taking-the-you-out-of-utiOuch! You feel like you’re peeing a stream of fire. Or you feel like you have to urinate all the time, but little comes out. What’s going on? When germs get into your urinary tract, they cause an infection called a urinary tract infection (UTI).

What is a Urinary Tract Infection?

Your urinary tract is actually your bladder, kidneys, and the tubes between them. Most UTIS are bladder infections, and isn’t serious if treated right away. However, if not treated in time, it can spread to your kidneys and cause kidney damage.

What Causes Urinary Tract Infections?

Germs that cause UTIs are found in your stool, and if they get inside your urethra, the tube that carries urine from your bladder, then they can get into your bladder and kidneys. Because women have shorter urethras, it’s easier for germs to travel to their bladders, and women are more likely to get bladder infections. Having sex can also transfer the germs. However, some women get frequent bladder infections without a known cause.

What Cures a UTI?

Unfortunately, the only way to truly cure an infection is by taking antibiotics. Other remedies can help prevent bacteria, or alleviate the symptoms of a UTI. Here are the top ways to stop a UTI before it begins, or, if you already have an infection, relieve the pain.

  • Take vitamin C supplements and drink cranberry juice. Both help keep your urine acidic. Acidic urine prevents bacterial from growing too rapidly. Vitamin C can also boost your immune system to help fend off infections.
  • Increasing your water and fluids helps flush out the bacteria in your system.
  • Pee before and after sex to minimize the risk of infections. You may also want to avoid sex toys, vagina sponges, and menstrual cups if you’re getting frequent UTIs as these can all attract bacteria.

When Should I See a Doctor for a UTI?

You’ll want to see a doctor as soon as you can to discuss treatment and receive a prescription for antibiotics. But if you are experiencing symptoms of a UTI and are pregnant, have diabetes, kidney stones, a fever and pain in your back under your ribs (where you kidney is located), or are over 65, call your doctor right away.