When are you most prone to UTIs?

At certain times you might need to take extra precautions


Emma Thornton
Qualified Nutritionist (ANutr)
@EmmaThornton
Ask Emma


30 October 2018

An introduction to the times and situations when UTI’s may be harder to avoid

I often talk about the positive steps you can take when it comes to diet and lifestyle factors, in order to help avoid UTI’s. 

‘Avoid refined sugar’ says she, or ‘drink plenty of water,’ and to be fair, these steps really can make a difference. However, aside from these, there are quite simply certain times or situations that can make us more vulnerable to infections; changing hormones or physical changes in the body, for example, are harder for us to have control.

However, don’t give up all hope just yet, we can still take some extra steps in order to overcome all the odds and keep those infections at bay. Firstly, I explain below when and why we may become more vulnerable to infections, and then I go on to explore some tips and solutions which may prove useful going forward.

1 - During the night

As mentioned, there are just certain times or situations that are harder for us to avoid, but if we can understand why we may be more prone to infections, then we can begin to take the necessary precautionary measures! So, there are a few conditions that the bad bacteria that give rise to UTIs or cystitis simply love, and believe me, they will take the opportunity to thrive if the opportunity is available!

1 - Time – that’s right, undisturbed time, preferably in a moist, warm environment. This might all sound a bit sinister, but this means by simply holding off going to the loo when you need, you could be putting yourself at risk.

2 - Stagnant urine – yes, that's right, unfortunately lots of old pee are the perfect breeding grounds for bad bacteria to populate. That's why it's so important to drink plenty of water to help keep yourself regular. 

So, therefore, an inactive bladder during the night can instantly put you at greater risk of contracting cystitis or a UTI. Bad bacteria can easily take the opportunity to set up camp, multiply and you end up waking up to a full blown UTI. To help avoid this scenario which so many of us dread, let me help you to stop those bad bacteria in their tracks with some of my tips below:

Top tips

  • Keep a glass of water by your bedside – Drink plenty of water throughout the day as well as some during the evening before bed time. Then, remember to empty your bladder one final time before bed and keep a fresh glass of water by your bedside which you can sip on as you need to throughout the night. These steps will help to flush you through and keep your urine dilute as possible
  • Go to the loo as and when you need - People often avoid going to the loo for a whole number of reasons; perhaps you feel you're too busy, too embarrassed, too worried about disturbing others, or more worrying still - too lazy! Whatever the reason, it's more likely to be doing you more harm than good if your avoiding it, so I urge you to go to the loo as and when you need, even if it is slightly inconvenient!

2 - During pregnancy

Many women find that they become more susceptible to UTI’s during pregnancy. Why might this be though? Strangely the process is very similar to that of an enlarged prostate causing UTI’s! Now that's a thought! Let me explain.

As an expanding uterus (or prostate for that matter) pushes into the bladder it can restrict its space. This can lead to a whole host of problems such as trapped pockets harbouring stagnant urine, or it can compromise the correct emptying of the bladder when it's time to go to the loo. Both scenarios mean infections are much more likely to take hold.

Top tips

  • Don’t be scared of liquids – Not just in pregnancy, but normally, many of us assume that as we drink more water we’ll automatically be running to the loo more often, when in fact the opposite is true. Contrary to popular belief, as you become dehydrated your bladder can actually become more irritated, and then those extra trips to the loo become more likely. Then, as you drink more, the opposite is true; your bladder gradually gets used to the increased volume and you'll most likely find that you're able to hold more before needing to go; plus, it helps to keep things regular and flushing through

3 - As a result of changing hormones 

We can also become more susceptible to infections as a result of changing hormones. Yet again, good old oestrogen may be somewhat to blame! Both around the time of our period, and during the menopause, levels of oestrogen drop off. Believe it or not, this can leave the lining of the urethra slightly thinner, more sensible and you've guessed it - more prone to infections.

Hormones are also thought to have an influence on the pH throughout the urinary tract, as well as the balance of bacteria (thrush is also often more likely during these times too), both of which can also contribute to infections, so extra precautions are often necessary due certain high risk times.

Top Tips

4 - As we get older

More generally, as we get older, unfortunately, for a number of different reasons we can become more susceptible to infections. Here I run through a few of the reaons why:

  • Our immune functions become depleted – As we get older our immune system doesn’t always work as well as it used to. This is to be expected to some degree as we age, however, changing diets (plus less water and more tea in many cases!), altered sleep patterns and stress levels can all add to the problem if we're not careful 
  • More exposure to bacteria – Unfortunately, as we get older the likelihood of hospital stays, the use of catheters, plus a more limited personal hygiene routine can all contribute to increasing our exposure to bad bacteria.

Top tips 

Then, at the first sign of an infection, act quickly and take Uva-ursi & Echinacea up to five times daily to help stop the symptoms in their tracks.

 

Article orignially published on 28/09/17 and updated on 30/10/18.

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