After the biting cold of the winter months, everyone waits for the summer and the relief it brings from the damp and cold. But the hot and sultry summer months can also be a pain in more ways than one. This is the season when infections spike. And, with the advent of the monsoon, the health risks also increase significantly. Of course, mosquito-borne diseases are the main dangers of this season. But there are many other health risks that often go unnoticed. One such danger is urinary tract infections, which surge during the summer months. The urinary system involves the kidneys, ureter, urinary bladder and urethra. The infection caused in this tract is termed as urinary tract infection (UTI). It is generally caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses.  Most infections commonly involve the lower urinary tract, i.e., the bladder and the urethra. Women are at greater risk of developing a UTI than men, which are a common occurrence in summer.

Risk of UTI in hot summer days

The summer months raise one’s risk of suffering from urinary tract infections (UTIs) due to dehydration as there are insufficient fluids in one’s body to flush out the bladder. Moreover, the warm days of summer are perfect for germs and bacteria to grow. According to Dr Suraj Lunawat, Urologist, Apollo Spectra Hospital, Pune, “Summer is an ideal season when the weather is warmer and it’s easier for germs or bacteria to thrive. Hot weather also causes dehydration which in turn leads to infrequent urination. Holding the urine for longer periods of time and lack of access to a clean bathroom may also contribute to UTIs. Taking a dip in a contaminated pool can also invite infection.” Citing other causes of urinary tract infections during the hot summer days, Dr Lunawat goes on to say that poor hygiene in the genital area as well as excessive sweating in the perineal region during sunny days can facilitate bacterial transfer from the rectum to the urethra (especially in females).

Blame it on E.coli

The most common bacteria linked to UTI is Escherichia coli (E. coli), and this is responsible for maximum infections. The bacteria is found naturally in one’s gut but the problem occurs if they enter one’s urethra. Women of any age group can suffer from it.

Symptoms that you need to look out for

It is important to be vigilant and seek treatment immediately if you notice any symptoms that may indicate urinary tract infection. Dr Lunawat says that the most obvious symptoms of this condition are “a burning sensation while urinating, cloudy urine, frequent urination, bloody urine, fever, a sudden urge to urinate, pressure in the lower abdomen, foul-smelling urine, pain in the pelvic region and abdomen, nausea and vomiting.” He cautions that untreated UTI can lead to fatal complications like pyelonephritis (inflammation of the kidney) or sepsis and stresses on the importance of timely and appropriate treatment which involves medication.

Importance of timely treatment

Dr. Sanjay Ingle Zonal Technical Head West and Consultant Pathologist Apollo Diagnostic, Pune,  says, “A UTI is diagnosed via urinalysis and urine culture which looks for evidence of infection such as white blood cells in the urine sample and isolation of pathogenic bacteria in urine as urine has many commensal bacteria in normal circumstances. These tests are to be taken if one has burning and pain while urinating. There is a higher risk of infection if one has diabetes or prone for stone formation. Skipping the tests can delay treatment and land you in trouble as infection can affect the kidneys also if not attended to. To minimize the risk of Covid-19, you can opt for at-home services wherein the urination sample will be collected from the house.”

What you can do to be safe

You can also do your bit to prevent this avoidable and unpleasant infection. Just take some extra case and you will be able to keep urinary tract infection at bay in summer.

  • To prevent UTIs, stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water.
  • You must also maintain good personal hygiene in your genital region to keep UTIs at bay.
  • Avoid holding your urine for a longer time.
  • Wash undergarments before using them.
  • Avoid using public toilets and swimming pools.
  • Don’t use chemical products down there.
  • Wear skin-friendly undergarments made from breathable fabric.
  • Have probiotics.

Extra precautions for women

  • If you are a woman, wipe from front to back after using the toilet to prevent bacteria from spreading from anal to vagina and urethra.
  • Change sanitary napkins from time to time after menstruation.
  • Avoid douching down there.

This post first appeared on The Health Site

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