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How Summer Weather and UTIs go Hand-in-Hand

Summer is finally here and we can expect at least a few months of hot, humid weather. In many ways, this is a good thing. Summer means ice cream and swimming and lounging in the sunshine. It also means that the conditions are prime for bacteria to thrive both inside and outside of the body. According to research, summer is the season in which UTIs are much more common, especially in young women.

UTI is a urinary tract infection, a treatable condition that can develop in either the upper or lower urinary tract. The urinary tract includes the bladder itself, the urethra, the ureters, and also the kidneys. Seeing that approximately 40 percent of all women develop at least one urinary tract infection in their lifetime, it is essential that we gain awareness of the cause, treatment, and prevention of this condition.

One of the most common causes of urinary tract infections is the introduction of e. Coli bacteria into the urethra and, from there into the bladder. During the summer, several factors can contribute to an increased UTI risk, including:

  • Urination habits. During the summer months when many people are busy traveling, there may be more than a handful of moments in which one holds their urine for longer than is healthy. This can increase the risk of bacteria in the urinary tract.
  • Dehydration is also more common in the summer months. A lack of hydration means less dilution of the fluids being flushed from the kidneys and also less frequent urination that clear the urinary tract.
  • Bathing suits and wet suits. As if the heat and humidity were not enough of a factor for thriving bacteria, we also throw in ample time lying around in a wet bathing suit. This combination is a win-win for the microorganisms and a lose-lose for you.
  • Sexual activity doesn’t necessarily increase during the summer months but this is a contributing factor to UTIs that is often overlooked so needs to be mentioned. This risk can be significantly decreased by cleaning the genital area before and after sexual intercourse (both partners) and also by urinating after sex.

Treating the Average UTI

Signs of a UTI include a strong urge to urinate followed by little urinary output. UTIs also typically include burning or cramping upon urination. At the first signs of infection, it is beneficial to visit a healthcare provider. A simple urine test can quickly confirm a UTI. Antibiotic treatment typically begins immediately and clears the infection within a matter of days.

The longer a UTI lasts without treatment, the more challenging it can be to treat. Don’t wait to receive proper care. We’re here to help. Call UT Urology in Chattanooga at (423) 778-5910 to schedule your consultation and examination.

Can Kegels Really Help Stress Urinary Incontinence?

Urinary Tract Infections Chattanooga TNIt is estimated that as many as 1 in 3 women lives with some degree of stress urinary incontinence. If you accidentally leak urine when you a cough, laugh, sneeze, or exercise, you are one of them. Stress urinary incontinence is not a new condition; women throughout the ages have struggled with it. The problem is, the global conversation about incontinence conditions remains very hush-hush.

We can understand why you may want to keep your business to yourself. At the same time, we also want you to know that there is value in speaking to your Chattanooga urologist about stress urinary incontinence. You may be surprised at how easy it can be to improve your life. We’re talking about Kegels, a type of exercise you may have heard of, but know very little about.

Kegels have Value – and a Caveat

Research has demonstrated that Kegel exercises, also known as pelvic floor exercises, can be very beneficial to a woman’s vaginal health, as well as her intimate health. This is good news! The bad news is that research also confirms that only half of the women who engage in pelvic floor exercise do it right. Yes, that’s the caveat. Kegels can do a lot to improve bladder control, not to mention sexual sensation and vaginal dryness; but you have to know the proper technique.

Kegels get a Little Help

Biofeedback was an integral aspect of Kegels back in the early days of development. Patients of Dr. Arnold Kegel were measured for muscle strength before they began their Kegel practice. Then, they would return to the office for follow-up diagnostics. This would help Dr. Kegel determine proper performance, or recommend modifications in technique. During that time, biofeedback was obtained with a device called a perineometer. Later, EMG, or electromyography, was used to measure the success of pelvic floor exercise.

Today, biofeedback may be conducted in a few different ways. Some urologists perform an in-office assessment of pelvic floor muscles before commencing with Kegels, and will often work with specialized physical therapists to continue therapy much in the same way Dr. Kegel himself did. Another method involves the use of a convenient biofeedback device used at home on a daily basis. Some devices assess periodically, where others provide a continuous measurement of strength as it improves.

There is much to gain by strengthening the muscles across the pelvic floor. To learn more about urinary incontinence, Kegels, biofeedback, and other treatment options, call UT Urology in Chattanooga.

 

 






Are you Seeing Red?

Blood In UrineWhen you urinate, the last thing you expect is to see red. To notice visible blood in your urine can feel frightening, and may send you into a tailspin of investigative work. What could be the reason for blood in the urine? What might it mean for your health? Why are there no other symptoms to speak of? These are all normal questions, and they can be answered by your Chattanooga urologist.

Without causing unnecessary alarm, our first recommendation if you have observed blood in your urine is that you schedule an examination and consultation with us. The team at UT Urology has extensive training in conditions affecting the urinary tract, including the kidneys, bladder, and other structures. We are here to help you make sense of the mystery of hematuria and to provide treatment focused on the resolution of this problem.

When there is blood in the urine, what we want to determine is its source. There are three common areas from which blood cells may be released: the bladder, the ureters, or the urethra. You know the bladder as the container for urine. The ureters are the small tubes that attach to the kidneys and the bladder. The urethra is the tube through which urine is excreted.

Causes of Blood in Urine

There are several potential reasons for the release of blood cells into the urine. For this reason, it is important to see us for a thorough evaluation, whether or not hematuria is accompanied by other symptoms, such as discomfort or a strong and frequent urge to urinate. Some of the common reasons why one may see blood in their urine include:

  • Bladder infection, or urinary tract infection. Typically, burning upon urination will also occur, but not always, so don’t rule out this possibility.
  • Kidney infection. This condition may also cause fever and chills, or pan in the low back.
  • Kidney stones. Most people are aware that kidney stones are likely to cause intense abdominal or pelvic pain as they pass.

Lesser known reasons for hematuria include enlarged prostate, tumors (benign or malignant), and strenuous exercise. A comprehensive examination that includes urinalysis, bloodwork, and other screenings as needed will help us determine the underlying cause of blood in the urine, as well as the most appropriate approach to treatment.

At UT Urology, our primary concern is your comfort and health. Contact us at (423) 778-8765 to schedule your visit.






Do Cranberries Prevent Urinary Tract Infections?

Urinary tract infections (UTI) affect up to 60% of women over the course of their lifetime. These infections result in bothersome symptoms including frequent, painful urination, they lead millions of people to seek medical care and they cost billions of healthcare dollars each year. Is it any wonder then that we would hope to find some way to prevent recurrence of these infections? For many, that hope has been placed in the tart little berry that makes its appearance each Thanksgiving. But how effective are cranberries at preventing infection? What about all of the cranberry extracts that we see? As with so many aspects of medicine, the answers may not always be as simple as we would like.

Do cranberries prevent Urinary Tract Infections? | Urology in Chattanooga TNFirst, let’s talk about cranberry juice. Early on, several studies indicated that cranberry juice was effective in preventing recurrence of urinary tract infections. A class of chemicals called proanthocyanidins (PAC) found in cranberries are thought to keep E. coli (the most common cause of urinary tract infections) from binding to bladder cells. It seemed to make sense that drinking cranberry juice would prevent infections from recurring. However, PAC breaks down after 10-12 hours meaning people would need to drink cranberry juice twice daily to maximize the benefit. Furthermore, many studies show a lot of people just don’t like the tart taste of cranberry juice and stop drinking it (sorry, the sugar-sweetened 10% juice cocktail won’t cut it here). Finally, as more and more studies have been done, fewer of them have shown a benefit and, overall, the evidence for cranberry juice has been questioned. When taken as a whole, it seems more likely that cranberry juice doesn’t make much of a difference in preventing infections.
Cranberry Capsules prevent urinary tract infections | urology in Chattanooga TNWhat about cranberry extracts? There are studies that show benefits from capsules containing extracted PAC, especially in certain populations that are at high risk of getting new infections. Unfortunately, these extracts suffer from a lack of standard make-up. By that, I mean that the amount of PAC from one supplement to another varies greatly. For example, one study found that the amount of PAC across 7 different cranberry extracts varied by 30 times. So, one brand of extract contained 30 times the amount of PAC compared with another. With so much variability, it is very difficult to know whether these capsules can prevent infections. So, again, when we look at all of the studies together, it seems less likely that there is much of an effect.

What to do? Well, there are studies ongoing for both cranberry juice and cranberry extract supplements that may find particular doses are effective or that certain types of people may benefit, so stay tuned. There are other compounds such as d-mannose sugar that may prove to be useful as well. Women with recurrent urinary tract infections may benefit from a medical evaluation to see if there is an underlying urologic problem that may be causing recurrent infections. I often find in my practice issues such as complications from previous surgeries that can explain recurrent infections. It may even be that our over-use of antibiotics may precipitate infections by killing of normal, beneficial vaginal bacteria. There is at least some evidence that probiotics (essential doses of healthy bacteria) may provide benefit, though these studies are ongoing.

Colin M. Goudelocke, M.D.






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