Winters not only exacerbate colds and respiratory infections, but research-backed data show an increased prevalence of urinary tract infections (UTI) in the winter, as well. Read on to know what experts like urologist in Karachi say is the link between cold weather and UTIs:
Why is the incidence of urinary tract infections higher in winters?
There are a host of reasons why kidney and bladder health suffers during the cold. According to consultant urologists, an influx of patients with urinary tract infections occurs as the kidneys are overworked in the winters. Likely, this is attributed to less sweating in the winters, as well as cold diuresis, which produces more urine. As the frequency of urination increases, those with overactive bladders are affected most.
In addition, there is an increase in the consumption of caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea in the cold weather, with inadequate hydration. Caffeinated products induce diuresis—increased production of urine—and if one is not drinking enough water, this can be troublesome for the kidneys and the bladder.
Alternatively, cold weather aggravates pre-existing bladder conditions like urge incontinence, residual urine, and excessive nocturnal urination.
What are the symptoms of urinary tract infections in winters?
As with any urinary tract infection, the symptoms are:
- Increased urination
- Cloudy urine
- Inability to completely empty the bladder
- Burning sensation while urinating
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Foul smell of the urine
- Blood in the urine in extreme cases
How to prevent recurrent urinary tract infections in the winters?
Experts recommend small lifestyle changes that can help in preventing and exacerbating urinary tract infections in the winters. These include:
- Hydration, hydration and hydration: one thing that people of all ages should do in the winters is increasing their intake of water during the winter. Unlike the summers, one doesn’t feel thirsty much in the winters. Consequently, one ends up drinking less than the recommended amount of water daily. As mentioned before, drinking less water is associated with UTIs; therefore, combating UTIs starts with flushing the toxins through the urinary system by drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water every day.
- Increasing the intake of vitamin C: this vitamin is an antioxidant and an immune booster. For prevention of urinary tract infections, it works by increasing the level of acidity in the urine which eradicates the disease-producing bacteria from the system. Sources rich in vitamin C include fruits like oranges, tomatoes, grapefruit, and pineapple.
- Wearing cotton underwear: breathable fabrics like cotton do not allow moisture trapping and growth of disease-causing bacteria that can infect the urethra and ascend to cause infection.
- Not holding the urine for long periods: it is understandable to not go to the toilet during the cold weather. But urinary stasis by holding the urine for long can increase the risk of bladder irritation, bladder infection, and urinary tract infection.
- Improving personal hygiene: thorough cleaning of the genitalia after voiding is mandatory to avoid recurrent urinary tract infections.
- Consuming cranberries: cranberries have long been used for better bladder health. Cranberries and their extract are considered natural remedies for bladder infections. Cranberries are rich in proanthocyanidins, which prevent the attachment of microorganisms like coli. E. coli is the most notorious organism for recurrent urinary tract infections and the use of cranberries can, therefore, reduce the incidence of infestation by this organism.
- Increasing intake of D-mannose in the diet: in individuals with active UTI, D-mannose, a sugar derivative, is often recommended as a nutritional supplement. Like cranberry extract, D-mannose prevents the attachment of coli to the wall of the urinary bladder. They are particularly helpful in women with recurrent UTIs. The dosage of this needs adjustment by a urologist in Lahore.