August 23, 2019
Urinary tract infections ( UTIs) have a reputation for being more of a women’s health issue than a men’s. Given UTIs are four times more common in women than in men, this common assumption is not surprising. Women have shorter urethras than men, which make them more susceptible to developing UTIs—but this painful ailment isn’t gendered. Men are affected by UTIs as well, but often delay treatment because they don’t think men can get UTIs or don’t recognize the symptoms. Understanding the symptoms and treatment of UTIs is key to help men stay healthy and informed.
Accounting for around eight million doctor visits each year, UTIs are a common infection caused by a variety of factors. When bacteria (most commonly E. coli) enters the body through the urethra, it comes into contact with the lower urinary tract made up of the urethra and bladder. Here, the bacteria grow, and can move to the upper urinary tract when left untreated. This is cause for heightened concern, as the upper urinary tract includes the kidneys and ureters (the tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder.) Factors that can increase the risk for UTIs include:
• Consistent dehydration
• Recent urinary tract surgery
• Poor hygiene
• Catheter use
• A suppressed immune system
• Blockages in the urinary tract, like kidney stones or an enlarged prostate
UTI symptoms are hard to ignore. Usually, the discomfort alone is enough to bring people to the doctor. But because men might not have as much knowledge about or experience with the infection, may not recognize the following symptoms of a urinary tract infection:
• Frequent urination
• Strong need to urinate, but inability to do so
• Burning, stinging, or discomfort during urination
• Cloudy urine with a strong odor
• Blood in urine
• Low fever
• Abdominal pain
To diagnose a UTI, your doctor will assess the above symptoms and likely take a urine sample to check for the presence of harmful bacteria. Once diagnosed, your doctor can create a treatment plan that’s right for you. Typically, this includes a series of antibiotics taken over the course of five to seven days depending on the severity of the infection. They might also recommend the following supplemental treatment methods to expedite the recovery process:
• Drink plenty fluids. Though the painful urination can discourage adequate hydration, frequent, healthy urination will help flush bacteria from your system.
• Drink sugar-free cranberry juice. Studies show this lowers the bacteria count in the bladder. If the taste of cranberry juice isn’t for you, try cranberry supplements instead.
• Some over-the-counter medications are made specifically to ease the discomfort of UTIs. Be sure to check with your doctor and make sure this is the right option for you.
For people without medical conditions that compound the likelihood of UTIs, the infection is relatively easy to prevent. By maintaining appropriate sexual hygiene, drinking plenty of water regularly, and not waiting to use the bathroom when you have to go, you can drastically decrease your chances of contracting a UTI. Men who have chronic or prolonged UTIs, however, should be further evaluated by a doctor to rule out other possible conditions.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information on this web site is for general information purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or health care provider on any matters relating to your health.