Urinary tract infections common for women
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I would appreciate it if you would share knowledge on the causes of urinary tract infections. I am a female who’s prone to this problem. — T.J.
ANSWER: You’re speaking of bladder infections. All women are prone to getting them. One reason is that women have shorter urethras than men. The urethra is the tube that drains urine from the bladder to the outside. Furthermore, the external opening of a woman’s urethra is in an area with lots of bacteria. The bacteria can enter the urethra and climb upward into the bladder with ease. And sexual relations massage bacteria into the female urethra. It’s no wonder that women are subject to many bladder infections.
Painful urination, frequent urination and a sense of urgency to empty the bladder are signs of a bladder infection.
Women who have frequent infections have a number of ways to prevent them. One simple way is drinking more fluids to keep the bladder flushed out. Daily cranberry juice prevents the most common infecting bacterium from holding on to the bladder lining and increasing the chance for bacterial proliferation. Another way to handle recurrent infections is to treat an infection longer than usual, taking an antibiotic for two to six weeks. Or a woman can have on hand an antibiotic to take at the first signs of infection. Emptying the bladder immediately after intercourse and then taking an antibiotic can stop a bladder infection from taking hold. And finally, some doctors prescribe a low dose of an antibiotic for their female patients who have one infection after another. The patients take it for months at a time.
The pamphlet on urinary tract infections explains how women and men get them and what they can do for them in a more detailed way. Readers can order a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue — No. 1204, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a cheque or money order (no cash) for $6 Cdn with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I had an ultrasound of my kidneys, and it showed I have cysts in them.
I am a 79-year-old female in good health. I take no medications except for eyedrops for glaucoma.
My doctor tells me that the cysts are nothing to worry about. Should I be worried? — L.J.
ANSWER: Listen to your doctor; you shouldn’t worry. Single or multiple small kidney cysts are found in many people, and they have no significance. They haven’t caused you a problem in 79 years, and they did not just show up in the recent past. They won’t cause you any problems in your next 79 years.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am an 88-year-old male. Last year, when I complained that, at times, I was getting short of breath, my doctor had me take an echocardiogram. The results indicated that I had mild to moderate insufficiencies. I haven’t seen this mentioned in your columns and thought that you might discuss this problem and how it is treated. — T.G.
ANSWER: An echocardiogram, also called an ultrasound, is a soundwave picture of the heart. It shows heart valves well, and it shows how they’re working.
Mild to moderate insufficiency of a heart valve is another way of saying that the valve has a leak. The heart has four valves. One valve is the aortic valve. Once the heart pumps blood out, it closes to prevent blood from coming back into the heart. With a leaky aortic valve, blood does re-enter the heart. A mild to moderate leak isn’t all that bad. It might not be the cause of your shortness of breath. I take it that your doctor doesn’t feel it’s significant, or he would have done something about it.
Hearts can have other kinds of insufficiencies, like an insufficient supply of blood. And valves other than the aortic valve can develop a leak. So I’m not positive that my answer is applicable to your case, but I think I have addressed the most likely issue.