5 tips for preventing bladder infections
1. Drink plenty of fluids, which will help to flush out the bladder. Cranberry juice (1-2 glasses a day) has natural chemicals that can prevent urinary tract infections in women (Strothers. Can J Urol 2002;9:1558-1562).
However, drinking a lot of fluids may be a nuisance if you’re already going to the bathroom at lot throughout the day (called urinary frequency, or polyuria) – a common symptom of MS. If you are having this problem, especially during the night (called nocturia), talk to your doctor. You may need treatment from your neurologist, a urologist or your family doctor. The available treatments include tolterodine (Detrol) and oxybutynin (Ditropan). If these aren’t effective, your doctor may administer Botox. A pilot study in people with MS with overactive bladder found that a Botox injection reduced urinary frequency and urgency, and reduced the need for incontinence pads (Mehnert and colleagues. J Urol 2010;184:1011-1016).
2. Take vitamin C. Vitamin C is acidic and accumulates in the bladder. Increasing the acidity of urine can slow the growth of bacteria in the bladder.
3. Urinate before and after sexual intercourse. This helps to flush away bacteria.
4. Wear cotton underwear. Synthetic materials can trap moisture, allowing bacteria to grow and spread.
5. Always wipe front to back. After urinating, women should always wipe themselves from front to back to avoid contaminating the urethra and vagina with bacteria from the colon.
Bladder infections require medical attention. If your doctor prescribes an antibiotic, take all of the pills at the specified times until all of the pills are gone (usually about 10 days). Stopping the medication early can lead to recurring infections.
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