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Posted by on March 19, 2020

Just because its winters does not mean that you cannot be infected by a UTI causing a bug. A UTI, or a urinary tract infection is an infection of any part of the urinary tract, including the bladder, kidneys, urethra or the ureters. The ureters are the tracts that drain the urine from the kidneys to the bladder (an organ where urine is stored), and the urethra carries the urine from the bladder to the external genitalia.

In the winter season, the air can get dry and less moist, and the low moisture can lead to dehydration. Dehydration is one of the most common risk factors of UTI. Moreover, one ends up drinking less water in the winter months, in comparison, to the summer months. Drinking less water means that one ends up urinating less, and this allows bacteria to fester in the bladder instead of being washed away during micturition.

In women, the risk of UTI is higher due to the smaller urethra, and many women have repeat infections, occasionally, for years. In men, on the other hand, the risk of getting a UTI is much lower. Read on to know more about how to deal with UTIs in winters:

What are the symptoms of UTIs?

A UTI infection presents either with a high fever, an intense urge to micturate a lot, or pain with micturition. In addition, there can be lower belly pain and cloudiness of urine along with foul smell.

How are UTIs diagnosed?

There are a few investigations that are done in case of a UTI. In an uncomplicated infection, the basic tests can include: urinalysis and urine culture. A urinalysis examines the urine for the presence of pus cells, bacteria, white cells and red blood cells. Red blood cells are usually present in the urine in case of a kidney infection, and white cell count is raised in infection of any part of the urinary tract.

Urinary tract infections

A urine culture is done to determine what type of causative bacteria is present in the body. Results of a urine culture take a few days to come back, as the growth of the bacteria takes time. After a culture is obtained, the labs also perform a ‘sensitivity’ test on it, to determine what kind of antibiotic helps to kill off these bacteria. Urine culture and sensitivity tests, therefore, help in finding the right treatment for the infection.

In a complicated infection, or if the infection does not respond to treatment, there are some other investigations that are done. These include: An Intravenous pyelogram (IVP), ultrasound, cystoscopy and a CT scan. An IVP is a serial x-ray done after a dye is injected to highlight the structures of the urinary tract. It can highlight if there is any obstruction to the pathway of urine flow, or stones present in the urinary tract.

An ultrasound also helps to form an image of the kidneys, outline the structures and check for any abnormalities. Cystoscopy is a test with certain instruments, inserted from the urethra that are used to see inside the bladder. A CT scan is a more sensitive type of x-ray that gives more detailed images from the body.

These investigations help the healthcare provider determine what are the causes behind recurrent or complicated urinary tract infections, and prescribe appropriate treatment thereafter.

What is the treatment and management of UTIs?

Before diving into the treatment of UTIs , it should be kept in mind that they might not be very dangerous initially, they can become very painful very soon. In case of extreme pain, you should get admitted to a hospital at your earliest. Ziauddin hospital clifton can be a good option in this regard.

Antibiotics are the mainstay of UTI treatment. An antibiotic of choice is usually based on the results of a culture and sensitivity test; however, your healthcare provider can choose one that best for you before the tests come back. It is important that the directions of use be adhered to strictly before stopping the medicine, as incomplete treatment can lead to recurrence and antibiotic resistance.

Home remedies and alternative treatment for UTIs

A few steps can help lessen the discomfort of a urinary tract infection. The first and foremost is to drink plenty of water. Not only does a lot of water dilute the urine, it also helps to flush away most of the bacteria. Therefore, even in winters, try drinking at least two litres of water every day to keep these pesky infections at bay. It is also important to not hold the urine when you get an urge to urinate, as that can allow the bacteria to multiply and cause infection.

Avoiding the drinks that irritate the bladder is another way to avoid UTIs. A bladder infection can cause an intense urge to urinate again and again. This will only worsen with drinks that irritate the bladder—for instance, coffee, soft drinks, and citrus juices. Wait until your infection has cleared completely before you opt for these.

To minimize bladder discomfort, use a warm (not hot) heating pad to the lower abdomen. Heat from the pad will help lessen the discomfort from bladder pressure and soothe the area.

Many people also drink cranberry juice to prevent and treat UTIs. While there are some indications that cranberry products, either in the form of pills or juice have some properties that can help fight infection, there is no concrete evidence. If you feel it is helping you, then by all means, continue drinking it. Cranberry juice is not bad for health, except in certain conditions like intake of medication like warfarin, where it can interfere with the metabolism of the drug.

Changing undergarments daily and using cotton underwear are also helpful in preventing infections of the urinary tract, as bacteria can enter through the urethra and ascend up to cause disease.

Urinary tract infections can become toxic very soon if they are not treated in time. In case of toxicity symptoms such as dark coloured urine or blood in urine, you should visit a hospital with a multi-speciality panel as soon as possible. Taj Medical complex is one such facility and has multiple urologists working on its panel.