What could be causing itching, burning sensation when urinating
Ever gone to the bathroom only to feel a burning sensation when you are urinating?
This is a symptom that many women can relate with and a now obvious telltale symptom of a urinary tract infection (UTI).
While UTIs are an inconvenience and uncomfortable, they are incredibly common.
Inspite of the burning sensation, frequent urination and the pelvic pain that comes with the infection, UTIs can result in kidney damage if left untreated.
What Is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?
A UTI is an infection in any part of your urinary system- your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra.
Most infections however involve the lower urinary tract – the bladder and the urethra.
According to Tola Fashokun – a gynecologist at the Johns Hopkins Women’s Center for Pelvic Health and Reconstructive Surgery, the most common causes of urinary tract infection in women include:
Sexual activity: “Your method of birth control, or even the act of intercourse itself, can bring bacteria into the urinary tract,” says Fashokun.
A diaphragm can carry bacteria, while spermicide can change the bacterial makeup of the vagina.
Immune system suppression: “Any condition that weakens the immune system lessens the body’s defense to bacteria,” says Fashokun.
Voiding dysfunction: Conditions that make it hard to completely empty the bladder can raise the risk of a urinary tract infection.
These include spinal cord injury or neuropathy- a condition that affects nerve function.
Menopause : According to Fashokun , during menopause, your body’s pH levels change which alters the vagina’s bacterial flora (the community of microorganisms living in the vagina).
This change in bacterial makeup increases your risk of UTI.
Pelvic or abdominal pain
Frequent or painful urination
Feeling the urge to urinate even when your bladder is empty
Cloudy or reddish urine
Nausea and vomiting
Fever or chills
Lower back pain, a sign of worsening infection
You should see a doctor if you experience any of the symptoms of UTI, especially pelvic pain, urinary leakage, painful urination or a frequent urge to go.
Diagnosing one just requires a simple urinalysis. You urinate into a cup, and your doctor examines the urine for signs of infection.
A doctor can confirm a diagnosis and rule out other conditions that may be causing your symptoms.
According to Fashokun, the standard course of treatment is three to five days of antibiotics.
In case your infections keep coming back, your doctor will probably order a urine culture- a specific test for UTIs.
A culture identifies the bacteria causing your infection so your doctor can choose the most effective antibiotic to treat it.
How to Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
Dr. Fashokun explains some simple lifestyle changes that might help you prevent UTIs or help reduce the chance of bacteria entering the urinary tract, which is the main cause of UTIs:
Empty your bladder more often: Fashokun advises that empty your bladder at least every four hours during the day.
Don’t hold it when you feel the urge to go.
Urinating after intercourse can also help wash bacteria away from the urethral opening.
Practice safer wiping and cleaning: Wiping from front to back helps avoid bacterial contamination.
Avoid irritating feminine products with dyes, fragrances and parabens and instead, wash with water whenever possible.
“And don’t douche ever, unless a doctor says to,” says Fashokun.
Wear loose clothing: Women with repeated urinary tract infections should avoid tight-fitting clothes, including thongs.
Cotton underwear lets the skin breathe more easily than synthetic fabrics like polyester. If you can, try to have a few hours a day where you don’t wear underwear at all.
Switch your sanitary supplies: Tampons might be a better choice if you have recurrent UTIs because they keep the bladder opening drier than pads.
“The pads keep bacteria right up against your urethra,” Fashokun says. Using a tampon helps you stay dry, which limits the growth of the bacteria that cause UTIs. Women who use incontinence pads are also at increased risk of infection. If you do wear pads, be sure to change them often.
Try a different birth control: If you have repeated urinary tract infections, you may want to avoid using a diaphragm and spermicide, including spermicidal condoms.
Talk to your doctor about other birth control options that can lower your risk for UTIs.
The risk of a woman contracting one in her lifetime ranges from 40 percent to more than 50 percent.
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