There are two types of infections that commonly affect a woman’s genital area—Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), and Yeast infection. Though the symptoms and causes of both infections are the same, they are altogether different. You should always seek the help of a doctor once these infections set in.
What Is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?
A UTI is an infection that affects the urinary system of the body, including the urethra, bladder, ureters, and the kidney. Women are more susceptible to UTI than men due to their body structure.
What Are the Causes of a UTI?
A UTI is mainly caused by bacteria, though fungi and viruses can also be the reason. UTI’s can be of two types—lower tract infection involving the urethra and bladder, and upper tract infection involving the ureters and the kidneys.
Any factor that can irritate the urinary tract can cause a UTI:
- Weak immune system
- Diabetes that is not properly controlled
- Long-term catheter use
What Are the Symptoms of a UTI?
The symptoms of a UTI depend on which part of the urinary system is infected. If the lower tract is infected, then the symptoms often involve abdominal pain, along with frequent, painful urination. Urine from an infected lower tract is typically cloudy, and has a strong odor.
Upper urinary tract infection involves the kidney. It is considered to be more dangerous, as there is a chance for the bacteria to enter the blood. The symptoms of this type of infection include fever, nausea, and chills. However, what most distinguishes this type of infection is pain in the upper back in sides, indicating an infection in one or both kidneys.
How is UTI Treated?
For UTI treatment, your doctor will typically do a urine culture, to determine the type of infection. If the infection is caused by bacteria, the doctor may recommend antibiotics—oral antibiotics for lower tract infection, and intravenous antibiotics for upper tract infection. If the infection is caused by a virus, then the doctor will recommend antiviral medication.
4 Ways You Can Help Prevent a UTI
- Drink plenty of water : Drinking plenty of water ensures that your urine gets diluted, and that you urinate more frequently. This will help flush out the unwanted bacteria from the body. In addition to water, you can also drink cranberry juice, as it is considered to be effective in preventing UTI’s.
- Clean your genitals from front to back : Cleaning the genitals from front to back, especially after urination and bowel movements, ensures that the bacteria in the anal region does not spread to the vagina and urethra. This helps in preventing UTIs to a large extent.
- Clean after intercourse: Make sure that you clean your genitals properly after intercourse, ideally as soon as possible. Also, drink a lot of water to flush out bacteria.
- Avoid products that irritate the genitals : Female products like deodorant and powder can irritate the genital area. Similarly, try to avoid douching and bubble bath as much as possible to prevent the occurrence of a UTI.
What is a Yeast Infection?
Yeast infection is an infection that affects the vagina and vulva. It is a very common type of infection, and affects 3 out of 4 women. Otherwise called Vaginal Candidiasis, a yeast infections occur for a variety of different reasons, including oral sex.
What are the Symptoms of Yeast Infection?
Yeast infections have very distinct symptoms that are easy to recognize from other kinds of infections. These symptoms include any or all of the following:
- A burning sensation while urinating
- Itching of the vagina followed by redness and swelling.
- A white, odorless vaginal discharge resembling cottage cheese.
- Watery vaginal discharge
What Are the Causes of Yeast Infection?
As we mentioned earlier, the causes of a yeast infection can be many and varied. All women have a balanced mix of yeast and bacteria in their vagina. If this balance is disturbed, an overgrowth of yeast occurs, which results in a yeast infection.
The main reasons for this yeast overgrowth include:
- Hormone tablets or contraceptives that increases the estrogen level in the body
- Use of antibiotics that can disturb the natural vaginal components
- Diabetes which is not controlled properly
How is Yeast Infection Treated?
Yeast infection treatment is typically administered through antifungal medication. Your doctor will prescribe an oral tablet, a topical cream, or a suppository, depending on the severity. The duration of the treatment also varies accordingly.
How to Prevent the Occurrence of Yeast Infection?
Except in the cases of pregnancy and hormone therapy, it is possible to control the occurrence of yeast infections. By taking any of the following precautions, you can drastically reduce your chances of infection:
- Always wear neat, clean cotton panties that allow air to pass through
- Avoid tight-fitting clothes like pantyhose, especially during humid weather
- Avoid douching, as it can remove the good bacteria from the vagina
- Avoid using scented pads and tampons.
- Avoid unnecessary use of antibiotic
Though they are often lumped together, UTI and vaginal infection are not the same thing. Both infections affect different systems of the body, and should be treated in a different manner. That said, eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water keeps you fit and helps you to fight the infections.
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