As the summer season sets in, several women complain of experiencing urinary tract infections (UTIs). So, is it true that the risk of UTI in summer is high? Let’s find out.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most frequent bacterial infections in women, accounting for nearly 25 percent of all infections. While men can also experience UTIs, they are more prevalent in women. In fact, around 50–60 percent of women will develop UTIs in their lifetime. It occurs in any part of the urinary system, including the kidneys, bladder, and urethra. Despite being easily treatable with medication and home remedies, many women report an increase in UTIs during the summer season. This can be because of several factors, including dehydration, increased sweating, etc. Let’s find out what triggers UTI frequently in the summer and how to avoid it.

What is a urinary tract infection (UTI)?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of the urinary system, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. UTIs commonly occur when bacteria from the digestive tract enter the urinary tract through the urethra, leading to symptoms such as pain or burning during urination and frequent urination.

Symptoms of UTI

If you have a urinary tract infection (UTI), you are likely to experience these symptoms:

  • Strong, persistent urge to urinate
  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Frequent urination
  • Cloudy or strong-smelling urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain in your back and sides
  • Fever and chills
Woman with her hands between her thighs
Frequent urination is common in urinary tract infections! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Is UTI more common in summer?

The summer months, particularly June, July, and August, bring the warmest weather of the year. It is during this time that many individuals, both men and women, often find themselves grappling with urinary tract infections (UTIs). However, the Office on Women’s Health reveals women experience UTIs up to 30 times more frequently than men. Additionally, up to 4 in 10 women who get a UTI will suffer from at least one more infection within six months.

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UTIs can be more common in the summer due to various factors. Obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Mansi Sharma explains, “During warmer months, people tend to sweat more, leading to dehydration and reduced urinary output, which can concentrate urine and promote bacterial growth.” Moreover, as the heat and humidity rise, it is easier for germs to grow, elevating the risk of getting UTIs. Fortunately, most UTIs pose no serious threat and can be effectively treated with medication.

Other causes of UTI

UTIs are typically caused by bacteria, most commonly Escherichia coli (E. coli) from the gastrointestinal tract. These bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to spread and infect your bladder. The infection can then travel up and eventually infect your kidneys. Apart from this, poor intimate hygiene, holding urine for longer periods, and improper sexual practices can also result in UTIs. Additionally, certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or kidney stones, increase the risk of UTIs

Tips to avoid UTI in summer

If you also struggle with UTIs during the summer season, here are 12 tips you should keep in mind:

1. Keep yourself hydrated

Dehydration is common in summer and it can increase your chances of developing a UTI. So, drink plenty of water throughout the day to flush out bacteria from your urinary tract system. Dr Sharma suggests aiming for at least 8 glasses of water per day.

healthy drinks for heart
Keep yourself well-hydrated. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

2. Urinate frequently

Never hold urine for long periods, especially if you are already struggling with UTI. This can allow bacteria to multiply in the bladder. So, urinate whenever you feel the urge to avoid UTIs.

3. Wear breathable clothes

Sweating is common in summer due to the high temperature. So, choose loose-fitting, cotton underwear and clothing to allow air circulation. Breathable clothes help keep the genital area dry and prevent bacterial growth.

4. Wipe front to back

After you use the toilet, always wipe from front to back. Doing so can help you prevent the spread of bacteria from the anus to the urethra, reducing the risk of infection.

5. Practice safe sex

“To reduce the risk of UTIs and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), pee immediately after sex to flush out bacteria that may cause a UTI in summer or any other season. Moreover, use protection during intercourse,” suggests Dr Sharma.

6. Avoid irritants

Stay away from scented feminine hygiene products, harsh soaps, and douches, as these can disrupt the natural pH balance of the vagina and increase the risk of UTIs.

7. Stay cool and dry

Excessive sweating in hot weather can create a warm, moist environment that promotes bacterial growth. Always change wet clothes quickly.

8. Shower after swimming

“Chlorine and bacteria in swimming pools can increase the risk of UTIs,” says Dr Sharma. So, take a shower after swimming. This will help remove any bacteria from the skin and genital area.

Avoid these mistakes while taking a shower
Always take a shower after swimming. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

9. Apply heat

If you have a UTI and are experiencing pain and discomfort, you may apply a heating pad, a warm washcloth, or a hot water bottle to alleviate pain and soothe the symptoms of the UTI.

10. Drink cranberry juice

According to a study published by Elsevier Clinics, cranberry juice may help reduce the symptoms of UTIs by preventing bacterial growth. Do not forget to choose unsweetened cranberry juice.

11. Take probiotics

“Probiotics, found in yoghurt and other fermented foods, can help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut and urinary tract, reducing the risk of UTIs,” says the expert.

12. Avoid caffeine and alcohol

Both caffeine and alcohol can irritate the bladder and increase the frequency of urination, which can potentially increase the risk of UTIs. Limit your intake of these beverages, especially in hot weather.

So, follow these tips and avoid the risk of UTI!

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