The first time I ever heard of a urinary tract infection (UTI), it was my freshman year of college and my suite mate was doubled over in pain crying. The group girls from our hallway who assembled to help out in her time of need were convinced that we needed to call an ambulance. This was during the dark ages before smartphones and Wi-Fi in our dorm, so after tracking down the graduate student that lived in our hallway, she told us that it was probably a UTI and that our suite mate should go to the doctor or urgent care as soon as possible.
A few years later, when I was experiencing the same symptoms for the first time and was also doubled over in pain, it was only because of that experience that I had any idea of what was happening to me. I knew to get to a doctor immediately even though many of the websites I was frantically searching told me that my UTI could be cured by drinking lots of pure cranberry juice and resting.
My health classes in middle and high school didn’t talk about UTIs at all, and I have heard that same story from others as well. Here are some tips for detecting, treating, and preventing UTIs.
What are the symptoms of a UTI?
- It burns when you pee
- You feel like you need to urinate constantly, but when you go not much comes out
- When you do pee it is cloudy, strangely colored, and/or smells bad
- You feel sleepy and achy
How do I treat a UTI?
- If you think you may have a UTI, make an appointment with a health care provider right away. They will have you pee in a cup and if you test positive for a UTI, you will soon be on your way home with antibiotics to rest and get better very quickly.
- Your friend or the internet may tell you that you can cure a UTI at home, but most things like drinking cranberry juice or taking over the counter medicine are either preventative or meant to minimize your symptoms until you are able to see a healthcare provider.
How can I prevent getting a UTI?
- Pee after sex!
- Never hold it
- Always wipe from back to front
- Keep it clean down there with water in the shower or bath (no soap!)
- Drink real cranberry juice (with no added sugar) to prevent future UTIs. There are also cranberry pills available at any pharmacy.
- See a healthcare provider if you are getting frequent UTIs