Alcohol & Urinary Tract Infections

By Janine Stevens

A urinary tract infection (UTI), also known as cystitis or a bladder infection, is a bacterial infection in the bladder or the tube that carries urine from the bladder, the urethra.

Symptoms

A frequent and urgent need to urinate could signal you have a UTI, especially if you can only expel a small amount of urine when you go. Also, if you experience a burning sensation when you urinate, or lower back and lower abdominal pain, you probably have a UTI.

Men rarely develop UTIs; therefore, if a man notices these symptoms, he should see his doctor for a sexually transmitted disease (STD) test.

Causes

Women develop UTIs due to the location of the urethra. Its close proximity to the opening of the bowel and vagina make it easy for bacteria from the bowel to infect the urethra. This commonly happens during sexual intercourse. It can also be caused by wiping from back to front.

Prevention

In order to ensure that bacteria is kept clear from the urethra, be sure to urinate before and immediately following sexual intercourse. Urinating will not only flush out the bacteria, but because urine is often acidic, it will clean the area of bacteria as well.

Treatment

Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics, typically to be taken over the course of a week. Do not stop taking the antibiotics when your symptoms decrease or disappear, as the infection may not be completely out of your system.

Also be sure to drink plenty of water and cranberry juice, as urinating often will flush out the infection and decrease your pain.

Alcohol & UTIs

Doctors do not recommend drinking alcohol while on any medication, but they do not indicate that mixing the two is harmful. Still, alcohol may speed up the excretion rate of the antibiotics, which could slightly decrease the effectiveness.

More importantly, alcohol use may lead you to forget to urinate before and after having sex.

Finally, alcohol can irritate the bladder, so be sure to take the appropriate steps toward optimum bladder health if you plan on drinking while you have a UTI.

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