Uri­nary tract in­fec­tions com­mon for women

Cape Breton Post - - LIFESTYLES -

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.

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