Your burning questions about bladder infections?

Teenage girl with headphones using mobile phone

Do you have a burning sensation when you pee? Then we’ve got a burning feeling that you have a bladder infection – but don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Bladder infections, officially known as urinary tract infections (UTIs), are among the most common reasons healthy teenage girls visit their doctor.

Luckily, most of the time, your body does a great job at fending off the microscopic evildoers that cause UTIs. But chances are you’ll probably have to deal with an infection at some stage – they’re so common that most people experience a UTI at least once. Read on and learn more about how to avoid UTIs and what to do if you do get one.

What is a urinary tract infection?

When bacteria get into your bladder or kidney and multiply in your urine, this can cause a UTI. Usually, the bacteria that get into your urethra are stray bacteria from your vaginal or rectal area. UTIs are not contagious, so you can’t catch one from someone else, or from a public toilet. That said, if you have a UTI you should definitely avoid sharing towels or underwear with anyone else.

How do I know if I have a urinary tract infection?

You'll know, we promise. You might pee frequently, feel pain and a burning sensation when you do, or have the urge to go but very little comes out. Your urine may look cloudy or bloody, or just smell gross. You might have some pain in your lower stomach area just above your pubic bone. Some girls even have a slight temperature and/or feel shaky and tired.

What can I do to prevent it from happening to me?

Prevention is better than the cure, so the old saying goes. Here are some tips to prevent getting a UTI:

  • Pee frequently. Don’t hold it in! Delaying going to the bathroom gives bacteria a chance to grow.
  • Always wipe front to back. Wiping in the wrong direction is common cause of infection, allowing stray bacteria from your vaginal or rectal area to enter the urinary tract.
  • Stay away from frequent bubble baths, which can sometimes cause irritation, as can wearing nylon underwear and staying in a wet swimming costume for too long. Avoid feminine hygiene sprays and douches, which can irritate the urethra.
  • Drink lots of water daily. That'll help keep your bladder active and bacteria-free.

What's the recommended treatment for a UTI?

If you have any of the above symptoms, you'll need to make an appointment to see a doctor right away. The symptoms will only get worse if you ignore them! Your doctor will ask you to provide a urine sample, which will help determine the right treatment for you. Usually, it’s an antibiotic. After a few days, you’ll feel much better!

One thing you can do to speed up healing on your own is to drink lots of water. This will control the amount of acid in your pee. Cranberry juice may also be helpful to clean out your bladder and boost your immunity. Avoid coffee, chocolate, fizzy drinks, spicy foods, and anything acidic. Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes. A hot water bottle may ease your discomfort a little and gives you a great excuse to cuddle up on the sofa watching TV. Now drink up!