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Preventing Urinary Tract Infections

Krista Giannak

Last updated: November 9, 2016 9:07 pm

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Your kidneys filter wastes at a rate of three ounces of blood per minute, and, when combined with excess water, produce one to two quarts of urine each day, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). 1 What happens when something goes wrong along the way? Learn more about urinary tract infection symptoms, treatment and prevention.

What Is a Urinary Tract Infection?

The urinary tract consists of two kidneys, two tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder called ureters, the bladder and the urethra. Urine travels from the kidneys through the ureters, where it is stored in the bladder and later released through the urethra. When bacteria that live in the bowels, enter the urethra or grow anywhere along the urinary tract, you may develop a urinary tract infection (UTI). 2

Women are four times more likely to develop a urinary infection than men, according to the NIDDK. Urinary tract infection risk factors include diabetes, immune system problems, spinal cord injuries and the use of a catheter. Anyone who gets a urinary infection is more likely to have a repeat infection, and one out of every five previously infected women have repeat infections. Therefore, preventing urinary tract infections is crucial. 3

Urinary Infection Symptoms

The NIDDK cites several urinary tract infection symptoms, including:

  • Frequent urination urges, even when you do not pass much urine
  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • Fever or chills
  • Urine that is cloudy, bloody, dark or particularly smelly 4

UTI Prevention

Preventing urinary tract infections includes managing risk factors and making some lifestyle changes. For example, the Mayo Clinic recommends avoiding women’s products that may irritate the genitals, as well as drinking cranberry juice. 5 Other UTI prevention recommendations include:

  • Drinking six eight-ounce glasses of water each day
  • Wiping front to back, especially after a bowel movement
  • Switching birth control methods if you use a diaphragm or spermicide
  • Keeping the genitals dry with cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothing
  • Drinking water and urinating after sex 6 7

For people who have to use catheters to drain the bladder, preventing urinary tract infections also includes using clean and correct catheter insertion and removal techniques, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These include hand hygiene, ensuring the catheter is secure, and properly training family members or caregivers to assist if necessary. In a hospital, staff must use sterile techniques and equipment to prevent infection. Importantly, the CDC notes that catheters should be used only as long as they are needed. 8

Some medications have UTIs as potential side effects. One such medication class is SGLT2 inhibitors. SGLT2 inhibitors are approved, along with diet and exercise, to treat type 2 diabetes. SGLT2 inhibitors include drugs such as Invokana, Farxiga and Jardiance. 9

A December 2015 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) safety communication warned of the potential risk of certain side effects while taking SGLT2 inhibitors which may require hospitalization. These include serious urinary tract infections, as well as diabetic ketoacidosis, a condition of excess acid in the blood. After reviewing data it received, the FDA decided to add new warnings and precautions to the labels of all of the SGLT2 inhibitors regarding diabetic ketoacidosis and UTIs. The FDA also recommended that, in addition to watching for urinary tract infection symptoms, patients and health care professionals should be aware of diabetic ketoacidosis symptoms. 10

Ketoacidosis symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Breathing difficulties 11

Urinary Tract Infection Treatment

Generally, urinary tract infection treatment involves an antibiotic. Doctors choose an antibiotic, based on which bacteria are causing the infection and whether the patient has any allergies. NIDDK recommends carefully following antibiotic prescription instructions and completely finishing the prescription. In addition, you should drink lots of water and urinate frequently. 12

  1. NIDDK. http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/urologic-disease/urinary-tract-infections-in-adults/Pages/ez.aspx. (Accessed May 27, 2016). 

  2. NIDDK. http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/urologic-disease/urinary-tract-infections-in-adults/Pages/ez.aspx. (Accessed May 27, 2016). 

  3. NIDDK. http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/urologic-disease/urinary-tract-infections-in-adults/Pages/ez.aspx. (Accessed May 27, 2016). 

  4. NIDDK. http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/urologic-disease/urinary-tract-infections-in-adults/Pages/ez.aspx. (Accessed May 27, 2016). 

  5. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-tract-infection/basics/prevention/con-20037892. (Accessed May 27, 2016). 

  6. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-tract-infection/basics/prevention/con-20037892. (Accessed May 27, 2016). 

  7. NIDDK. http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/urologic-disease/urinary-tract-infections-in-adults/Pages/ez.aspx. (Accessed May 27, 2016). 

  8. CDC. http://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/cauti/002_cauti_sumORecom.html. (Accessed May 27, 2016). 

  9. FDA. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm475463.htm. (Accessed May 27, 2016). 

  10. FDA. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm475463.htm. (Accessed May 27, 2016). 

  11. FDA. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm475463.htm. (Accessed May 27, 2016). 

  12. NIDDK. http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/urologic-disease/urinary-tract-infections-in-adults/Pages/ez.aspx. (Accessed May 27, 2016).