The summer season is synonymous with beaches, ice cream, and swimming pools. But the summer season is also the peak season for urinary tract infections (UTIs). According to a study published in the Journal of Open Forum Infectious Diseases, there is an increase in hospitalizations for UTIs during the summer season and it's much higher in women than men . Mostly younger and elderly women are affected by UTI.
The researchers also noted that the overall rise in hospitalizations due to UTIs is associated with a surge in antibiotic-resistant bacteria which cause infections, especially during the summer months.
What Is Urinary Tract Infection?
UTI is a type of infection which affects the urinary bladder, kidneys, urethra, and ureters. Escherichia coli is the organism that causes UTI. Most urinary tract infections affect the lower urinary tract i.e., the bladder and urethra. The symptoms are burning sensation while urinating, a strong urge to urinate, cloudy urine, strong-smelling urine, and pelvic pain.
Around 50 to 60 per cent of women will experience urinary tract infections at some point in their lives . Post-menopausal women have a higher risk of UTIs due to low oestrogen, pelvic prolapse, diabetes, loss of Lactobacilli in the vaginal flora, and an increase in periurethral colonisation of Escherichia coli bacteria.
Reasons Why UTI Cases Are High In Summer
Dehydration is common during summers and it is the most common cause for UTIs during this season. Younger people are more likely to experience dehydration as they spend most of their time outdoors.
Women have a shorter urethra, which is why the bacteria travels easily from the vagina and rectum to the bladder. Drinking plenty of fluids will help to flush out the bacteria from the urinary bladder. According to a study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, women who drink 1.5 litre of water per day could cut their risk of UTI in half .
Researchers claim that drinking plenty of water increases the rate of bacteria being flushed out from the bladder, and also lowers the concentration of bacteria that enter the bladder from the vagina. This reduces the chances of bacteria that attach to the cells lining the urinary tract.
Note: Avoid drinking carbonated drinks, tea and coffee as they cause more dehydration.
2. Travelling in flight
While travelling in a flight, you are less likely to drink water and consume more carbonated drinks and alcohol served in flight. Both these drinks are full of sugar that increase the pH balance of your urinary tract, thus increasing the rate of bacteria .
In addition, aeroplanes cause body dehydration, so make sure to drink plenty of water while travelling by air.
3. Sexual activity
Sexual activity is another risk factor for UTI among women, especially younger women. According to the Urology Care Foundation, more sexual activity tends to happen in the summer and this increases the likelihood of more and more women contracting UTI. And so it's recommended to urinate after sex to help flush out the bacteria.
Swimming pools also play a role in increasing the risk of UTI infection during the summer. It is because swimming pools are a breeding ground for bacteria which may be due to the presence of urine in water, low levels of chlorine and people not showering before swimming, according to the Urology Care Foundation.
Bacteria tend to multiply fast in moist and wet places. So, change out of your wet bathing suits quickly.
Tips To Prevent UTIs In The Summer
- Wipe from front to back to prevent the bacteria from getting into the vagina.
- Urinating after sex will flush out the bacteria.
- Change your bathing suit as soon as you get out of the swimming pool.
- Keep your body hydrated by drinking water at regular intervals.