Myths about Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

There are a number of myths about UTIs (urinary tract infections) that continue to persist, which is why we will address some of the common ones in today’s post. Continue reading to see if you still believe some of these myths and discover the facts about urinary tract infections and how to treat them.

MYTH: Only women get UTIs.

Perhaps due to the fact that women get UTIs more than men is the reason that this myth still exists, but it’s not correct.  What is true is that women are naturally more at risk of developing a UTI because of their anatomy.  The bacteria that generally cause UTIs to live in the colon and rectum and the short length of the female urethra means that the opening is close to these areas, which makes women more vulnerable to developing an infection.

FACT: Men, women, children, and even pets can get UTIs.

The surprising truth is that men, women, children, and even your furry friends can all develop a urinary tract infection. UTIs are more common in men who have not been circumcised or have health issues such as incontinence, prostate cancer, or urinary tract stones. While UTIs are not necessarily common in children, girls younger than 12 and uncircumcised boys younger than three months old are at the highest risk of developing urinary tract infections during childhood. And yes, female dogs, like female humans, are more at risk of UTIs due to their anatomy.

MYTH: Antibiotics are the best solution to getting rid of UTIs.

You pick up the prescription your doctor gave you for a UTI from the drugstore and look at the instructions which say to “take this medication twice a day for 10 days, take it with meals to avoid an upset stomach and do not drink alcohol”.  You want to cry.  You’ve tried this before and it did not help.

FACT: Antibiotics are no longer a sure cure for UTIs.

Antibiotics used to be one of the best weapons in your doctor’s medical arsenal for killing bad bacteria and restoring you to good health. Unfortunately, because antibiotics have been overprescribed, bacteria have developed more advanced defense systems, so these drugs do not always clear up the infection and they may increase your risk of antibiotic resistance. And the fact is that taking them up to 10 days can increase your risk of developing a yeast infection or infectious forms of diarrhea.

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MYTH: Younger women are more likely to suffer from UTIs.

When you’re young and sexually active, it certainly seems as though this is true. But the reality is that younger women typically have UTI “episodes” which clear up relatively quickly, whereas older women are more likely to be living with chronic UTI symptoms that don’t go away.

FACT: Age and lack of hormones make older women more vulnerable to chronic UTIs.

When women start experiencing menopause, they celebrate the fact that they will no longer experience the dreaded inconvenience of the “period”. But what our mothers never told us was that other things start to happen which may actually make you feel worse. The lack of hormones causes vaginal dryness, which opens up our entire system “down there” to malfunction, allowing bacteria to wreak havoc everywhere. So older women are continually plagued with burning, need to urinate frequently, and other unmentionable symptoms. And it’s impossible to distinguish if it’s a UTI or something else. Worse, their doctors are as confused as they are. So, they basically have to live with these symptoms or figure it out for themselves.

MYTH: Drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry pills can get rid of UTIs.

This is the oldest “wives’ tale” out there. And the reason that it has been around for so long is that some women report that they get relief from UTI symptoms. However, scientists and experts have not been able to prove that this is true (nor has Ocean Spray, although they have tried).

FACT: Cranberry does not prevent or cure a UTI.

According to the University of Michigan School of Medicine, “pure cranberry juice, cranberry extract, or cranberry supplements may help prevent repeated UTIs in women, but the benefit is small. It helps about as much as taking antibiotics to prevent another UTI. And there is no proof that cranberry can cure a UTI.”