Urinary tract infections (UTIs) occur when bacteria get in your urine and cause an infection anywhere in your urinary tract. The most common places of infection are your bladder and urethra (the tube that lets urine leave your body). In some cases, a UTI can also lead to a kidney infection.
A UTI can cause you inconvenience and make it painful to go to the bathroom. If left untreated, it can also lead to more serious conditions. Fortunately, most UTIs go away with the proper treatment.
Anyone can get a UTI, but you are more likely to get one if you have internal genitals. Roughly six out of 10 people with internal genitals will have at least one UTI during their lives. Having internal genitals also means you may get a UTI from some forms of sexual activity.
People with external genitals can get UTIs as well, but they are less common. This is because the urethra is longer in people with external genitals, and also farther away from the rectum.
Your risk for a UTI also increases if you have diabetes or are in menopause. Using some types of birth control, such as diaphragms or spermicidal foams, can also increase your risk.
Symptoms of a UTI include:
To diagnose you with a UTI, your provider will have you describe your symptoms and take a sample of your urine. Your provider may also perform a urinalysis to determine what type of bacteria is causing the infection.
A couple of days on antibiotics will usually clear up a UTI. Your provider will tell you how to take your antibiotics and for how long. Follow your provider’s instructions, even if your symptoms go away. Skipping antibiotic doses can make them less effective.
Can Cranberry Juice Treat a UTI?
It won’t treat one, no. However, drinking cranberry juice might help some people prevent UTIs, as cranberries may help keep bacteria from attaching to the cells in the urinary tract. If you want to prevent UTIs, ask your provider if cranberry juice is a good choice for you.
Having one UTI makes you more likely to have another in the future. To prevent them:
If you have three UTIs per year or more, let your provider know. You may need further testing to figure out why.