I got my first urinary tract infection when I was 20 and living in Sweden. I didn’t know what it was and just kept going about my life until things started becoming unbearable and I found myself peeing blood. I needed some serious advice about UTIs.
I panicked and decided that enough was enough and that I needed to get myself to my doctor. This was before Google knew everything, so I did not have the advantage of looking up my symptoms online.
When I got to my local clinic an older male doctor listened to me describe my symptoms. He did not make any comments or ask any follow up questions, he just sent me off to get some labs after saying I probably had a UTI.
After the blood work confirmed the diagnosis he gave me a prescription for antibiotics for a pharmacy and that was it.
“I never got to see the actual results of the test. I was just told that they had confirmed that I had UTI which required treatment. No further advice about UTIs was given.”
No general advice about UTIs or how to avoid future UTIs or the fact that they could become a recurring thing. Lucky for me my mother is a pharmacist and she gave me advice about UTIs and on how to take the pills and the need for drinking lots and lots of water.
Advice About UTIs And Antibiotics, Or Lack Thereof
I remained on antibiotics for nearly a year, without follow up visits with my doctor. During this time I did not get a new UTI. About two months after I stopped taking the antibiotics the infection came back.
I was abroad in South America and had gotten an infected bug bite that had swollen to the size of a golf ball at the same time as getting a UTI. The Colombian doctor I went to see decided to go on offense, mostly to target the bug bite infection.
He was not interested in the symptoms of the UTI nor in my previous UTI history. He did not order any tests either. Again no advice about UTIs. He prescribed pills that were twice as strong as the ones that I had gotten before and a series of 5(!) shots of antibiotics over the period of one week.
I knew this was an extreme treatment and more antibiotics than one person should get in such a short period of time. I felt as if he was exaggerating the doses, but went along with it anyway.
“I surprised myself with my willingness to step into a random pharmacy, follow the male pharmacist behind a shelf and have him stick a needle in my butt, four days in a row.”
The fifth day I could not make myself go back. Both infections had cleared out in the sense that they were no longer bothering me and the bug bite was no longer visible.
Once again there was no follow up on the treatment. After this, I did not have an infection for over 5 years. But I was constantly worried that I was getting one and at the slightest pinch in those regions, I went for the cranberry pills.
My mother, and a friend who had previously given me advice about UTIs, recommended cranberry as they said it was good for stopping the infection before it happened. The pills had a very calming psychological effect, but I’m not sure they really stopped any infection.
The Return Of Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections
As I said, 5 years after the shots the UTIs came back and for a few years I had about four of them every year. I used the cranberry pills, but never went to see a doctor as I did not get a full blown infection as bad as my first one.
“The recurrent UTIs made me obsessed with drinking plenty of water and scanning my body to see how I felt and if a new infection was on the rise.”
I could sense the balance in my body being disturbed quickly and learned to spot the slightest indication of dehydration. I always went into full panic mode and drank plenty of water.
It seemed to me that the only two reasons for my getting UTIs were a lack of hydration or having sex with a new partner. Water intake is easy enough to manage, the link to sex has made me refrain from new partners unless certain it would lead somewhere long term. The fear of a new UTI outweighed the short term fun.
About a year and a half ago my urinary tract infections disappeared. I had made a lifestyle change where I stopped eating snacks and candy.
How I Turned Things Around – My Own Advice About UTIs
I had always had a hard time using willpower to change my eating and exercising habits. But I found a positive way that works for me.
Most of my bad eating habits were linked to snacking, and instead of just quitting the snacking completely I gradually changed what I was snacking on. From chips to popcorn to cashew nuts to macadamias and carrots.
This has worked for both building habits and changing them. I have simply replaced bad behavior with new habits that I enjoy more that the previous ones. Now I actually prefer popcorn over chips, cashews over popcorn and macadamias over cashew.
These days I eat almost no sugar and no fast carbs. I initially made the changes because my weight was way too unhealthy, and the end of UTIs was just an amazing side effect. If I had ever had advice about UTIs that indicated changing my diet would have such an impact on UTIs, I would have made the change years ago.
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