Study: Some women at risk for urinary infections
August 15, 1996
Web posted at: 11:45 p.m. EDT
From Medical Correspondent Rhonda Rowland
ATLANTA (CNN) -- Women know all too well when they're
suffering from a urinary tract infection. There's pain,
burning and frequent urination. The symptoms can be
"By the time I'm aware, I have severe abdominal pain and very
much discomfort in my lower back and sometimes fever and
sometimes vomiting, which I usually end up in the hospital
with," Gabriela Martin said.
The question for women plagued by the infections is: What
causes urinary tract infections? Doctors have had some idea,
but a study in this week's New England Journal of Medicine
"Sexual intercourse appears to be a strong risk factor ... as
does the use of a diaphragm and spermicide use," Dr. Thomas
Hooton of the University of Washington said.
Hooton found if a woman has sex three times a week, she has a
three times greater chance of developing a urinary tract
infection than a woman who abstains. If a diaphragm and
spermicide is used, her risk is seven-fold.
"If you think about what goes on during intercourse with
women having a shorter urethra, any germs that are present in
the area can be pushed up into the urinary tract, and that's
where the infection often comes from," said Dr. Beverly Byrd
of DeKalb Medical Center in Atlanta.
Researchers also found urinary tract infections are more
common than previously thought.
"The incidence is quite high, higher than we estimated," said
Hooton, who said the women studied had, on average, one
urinary tract infection per year.
Doctors say there are things women can do to help prevent
infections like giving up caffeinated drinks and drinking
more water. Women with infections are treated with
antibiotics. (157K AIFF or WAV sound)
Cranberry juice has long been recommended as a home remedy.
Although a study found some benefit in elderly women, doctors
have yet to find any benefits for younger women.
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