Things You'll Want to Stay Away From If You Have a Urinary Tract Infection
Did you know that a woman is 30 times more likely to get a urinary tract infection (UTI) than a man? This is because of the difference in the length of the urethra - a woman’s urethra is much shorter than a man’s, making it much easier for bacteria to enter the bladder from the vagina and the anus.
Who Gets UTIs?
Anyone can get a UTI, but as we’ve already discussed, a woman is much more likely to get a UTI than a man. Further, once a woman gets a UTI, 4 in 10 women will have a repeat UTI within six months.
You’re also more likely to get UTIs if you:
- Have diabetes. Diabetes reduces your body’s ability to fight infections and can also cause weakening of the nerves, making it difficult for you to fully empty your bladder.
- Are sexually active. Sexual activity can move bacteria into the bladder.
- Have or recently had a catheter in place. Catheters drain urine into a collection bag and are often used during hospitalization or surgery. Unfortunately, they can also introduce bacteria into the bladder.
- Are pregnant. Pregnancy changes the bacteria in the urinary tract. Pregnancy can also make it more difficult to fully empty the bladder.
Treatment of UTIs
Treatment of UTIs typically involves a prescription for an antibiotic. The antibiotic prescribed, as well as the length of treatment, will vary based on several factors:
- The severity of the infection.
- Whether the symptoms and infection resolve with treatment.
- Whether you have a history of repeat UTIs.
- Whether you have problems with your urinary tract.
Treatment may also involve avoiding certain foods. This may seem strange, but certain foods may irritate the bladder, worsening the symptoms of UTI.
Foods to Avoid with UTI
When you’re feeling miserable, the last thing that you may want to do is avoid some of your favorite foods. However, doing so may improve your symptoms. Here are some foods to cut out - temporarily - that may make you feel better.
Ahhhh - everyone’s favorite morning beverage. Though it may help your energy levels, it may also make you run to the bathroom even more than normal. Why? Because the caffeine in coffee is a known bladder irritant. Substitute a mug of decaffeinated herbal tea for the morning cup of coffee until the UTI resolves and you may feel better (but slightly less perky…)
Soda may also irritate the bladder for the same reason as coffee - caffeine. The carbonation may also irritate the bladder. Triple whammy if you drink diet sodas and are sensitive to artificial sweeteners. Instead, opt for cranberry juice, plain water or decaffeinated herbal tea.
Chocolate contains small amounts of caffeine. Many people can handle eating chocolate when they have a UTI because you would need a considerable amount to equal a similar amount in a mug of coffee. However, if you are quite sensitive to caffeine, you may want to cut out chocolate when you have a UTI and see if your symptoms improve.
Does it seem like all the best foods are on this list?
Spicy foods may also be a bladder irritant. As Greatist says, “If it burns going in, it could burn coming out.” Instead of picking spicy foods, choose foods with other spices, such as thyme, rosemary and basil - or better yet, pick bland foods until symptoms resolve.
Citrus fruits like lemons, oranges and limes can worsen symptoms. Why? Because the acidity of these fruits is a known bladder irritant.
It isn’t just citrus that you should avoid - other fruits that may worsen symptoms include apples, peaches, strawberries, plums, grapefruits, grapes and pineapples.
Though artificial sweeteners may be an innocuous choice when cutting back on calories, they may wreak havoc on UTI symptoms. Studies indicate that these sweeteners are tough on those with chronic bladder issues, such as interstitial cystitis. Few studies indicate they are an irritant for simple UTIs, but it is worth cutting back when you have one to see if your symptoms improve.
The Bottom Line
A UTI should be treated by a medical professional and likely will require a prescription for an antibiotic. It may also be helpful to cut back on certain foods while healing from a UTI because these foods may worsen symptoms. Keep in mind that the list we provided is in no way extensive and you may notice other foods that irritate your symptoms - it is also worth cutting these foods out.
Are you bloated? Swollen? Take a look at some anti-inflammatory foods that could help!