Got a Urinary Tract Infection? See your pharmacist!
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common among women. While the symptoms are troublesome, UTIs usually clear up without complications when treated promptly. Read on to learn how to recognize and prevent UTIs, and find out how your pharmacist can help if you have one.
How do I know if it’s a urinary tract infection?
Common symptoms of uncomplicated UTI in women include the following:
- Strong urge to urinate, often resulting in only a small amount of urine
- Pain or burning sensation when urinating
- Pain in the lower abdomen
In addition to these symptoms, urine may appear cloudy, have a strong smell, or contain traces of blood.
If the symptoms below are also present, it is likely a more serious kidney infection, in which case it is important to see a doctor immediately:
- Fever higher than 38.5°C
- Back or side pain
- Nausea or vomiting
How to reduce your risk of getting a urinary infection
Here are a few tips to help lower your risk of contracting a UTI:
- Drink fluids regularly so you urinate regularly. Go to the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge to urinate. As urine flows, it flushes out any bacteria that may have spread into the urethra (the tube that connects your bladder to the outside of your body).
- Always wipe from front to back after urinating or after a bowel movement. Stools and the anal region contain bacteria that can cause infection if allowed to spread into the urethra.
- Empty your bladder after sexual intercourse. Skin-on-skin contact can lead to bacteria entering the urethra.
- If you experience vaginal dryness, use a lubricant during sexual intercourse, to avoid irritating the urethra.
- If your vaginal dryness is related to menopause, talk to your doctor. Estrogen supplements may be an option.
- Avoid using feminine hygiene products like vaginal douches. These products can irritate the urethra. The inside of your vagina does not require cleaning.
Is cranberry juice effective against UTIs?
What about cranberry juice? Cranberry juice should not be used to treat UTIs. Some studies have shown that concentrated cranberry juice or cranberry supplements have a modest preventive effect, but they would have to be consumed in unreasonable amounts. If you are taking medication, especially anticoagulants, talk to your pharmacist before consuming any cranberry products.
Suspect you have a urinary infection? Talk to your pharmacist.
If you think you have a UTI, consult your pharmacist without delay. In many provinces across Canada, including Québec, pharmacists can prescribe antibiotics to treat uncomplicated urinary infections in women. You will need to meet certain criteria to be eligible for this service. If you do not, your pharmacist will refer you to a health professional who can help.