My friends and I once went on a short trip some years back, on our way back I felt the urge to urinate but decided to hold it till we got home. Unfortunately, the 45mins journey turned into a 3hour long journey as we got caught up in traffic.
The slight urge soon turned into a desperate one. Once the traffic was behind us, my friends encouraged me to use the bathroom in any nearby fast food restaurant but I insisted on holding it till we got home for fear of contracting diseases from a public restroom.
Just as we got home and I saw the door leading into the bathroom, I lost voluntary control over my bladder and completely wet myself before I could even struggle out of my jeans.You know how you start peeing your pants once you get to the door or see the restroom (*embarrased).
Well, to cut the long story short, a few days later I noticed I was unable to hold my urine and was going to the baathroom every 30 minutes, my friends laughed it off saying it was the trauma of peeing my pants that caused it, but it only got worse and I developed this lower abdominal discomfort some days later. So I decided to take a urine test and the results revealed I truly had a urinary tract infection.
This personal experience made me really cautious and always eager to enlighten people about urinary tract infections especially the dangers of holding urine for too long.
It has been estimated that about 40% of women have a urinary infection at some point in their lives. UTI’s are more common in women due to the nature of our urinary tract.
The urunary tract is made up of the kidney, ureters, bladder and urethra. Urine is produced in the kidneys, transported via the ureters to the bladder where it is stored and voided through the urethra.
The kidney and ureter make up the upper urinary tract, but I would be focusing more on infection of the lower urinary tract (bladder and urethra).
Normally, urine is sterile ie, it contains no germs or bacteria, however, some organisms may find their way into the urethra and grow to cause infection when there is prolonged stasis due to holding your urine for too long.
Here are 5 signs that you may be suffering from a urinary infection;
- Pain during urination
This is medically termed “dysuria”. If you feel a sharp pain or burning sensation while urinating, it is most likely due to a urinary tract infection.
- Frequent Urination or inability to hold urine
Having to urinate frequently with inability to hold urine or feeling an irrestible urge to urinate only to get to the rest room and void a little amount of urine.
- Lower abdominal discomfort
Feeling lower abdominal tenderness or discomfort with an associated sensation of bladder fullness, ie you constantly feel pressed even though you just used the bathroom.
Raised body temperature, with associated chills , feeling of unwellness , headaches may occur though are more common with upper urinary tract infection (Pyelonephritis)
- Foul smelling urine/ Bloody urine
If your urine has a bad odour or pungent smell or if you see blood in your urine.
In some cases, there may be presence of vaginal discharge, this often signifies a pelvic inflammatory disease triggering the infection. Its important to note however that a urinary tract infection is NOT a sexually transmitted infection.
Poorly treated or untreated UTI may lead to kidney infection (Pyelonephritis) if left untreated .
If you have any of these symptoms, do not hesitate to see a doctor.
You would be asked some questions, examined and asked to provide a urine sample which would be tested for bacteria and appropriate antibiotics prescribed. Analgesics and urine acidifying agents may also be prescribed.
If you have had a UTI before or are worried about getting it again, you may take the following precautions;
- Avoid holding your urine for long periods of time.
- Drink lots of fluid, cranberry juice is said to offer some protection against UTI’s.
- Wipe from front to back when you use the toilet as bacteria from the faeces can get into the urethra and move upwards to cause an infection.
- Endeavour to empty your bladder after sexual intercourse to flush out adherent bacteria from the urethra.
So have you had a UTI before ? Please share your thoughts or experience.