Vaginal thrush and urinary tract infections affect women daily. It is important to treat these infections as soon as possible. Let’s take a look at the causes, symptoms and treatment of these common infections.
Vaginal thrush also known as female candidiasis is a common infection which affects women. It is causes by a yeast infection in the vagina and the surrounding area. Candida lives in certain parts of the body harmlessly such as the skin, mouth and the vagina. The body produces bacteria which help to keep the candida under control. However, sometimes due to illness or stress, the candida will increase and the body will not be able to prevent this, thus causing vaginal thrush.
Women are also prone to vaginal thrush if they use antibiotics, take contraceptive pills (containing oestrogen), are pregnant or have diabetes.
The most common symptoms for vaginal thrush include:
- Vulvar itching and redness
- Thick white or watery discharge
- Pain during sex
- Pain during urination
Over the counter treatments such as topical anti-fungal creams can be used, however if they do not prove successful after 14 days please consult your doctor for further treatment. He/she may do a simple and painless swab test taking a sample of the cells from the vagina. The prescription can be oral cream or pills. One pill is usually enough to clear up the bout of thrush.
There are certain things that can be done to ease and/or prevent thrush
- avoid using scented soaps, bath salts and vaginal deodorants
- use hypoallergenic condoms instead of latex condoms and lubricants if they cause irritation
- avoid wearing tight fitting clothes made from nylon
- wear loose fitting clothes and cotton underwear
Vaginal thrush is nothing to be embarrassed about and most women experience it at least once in their lives. As mentioned above, it can be diagnosed and treated easily.
Urinary tract infections are very common in women and involve the bladder, urethra, ureters and kidneys. These are the organs that urine passes through before being flushed out of the body. An infection occurs when bacteria enters the urine. It usually begins at the opening of the urethra and moves upwards towards the urinary tract (kidneys and ureters). Infection in the upper urinary tract causes symptoms such as nausea, chills and vomiting.
The main cause of this infection stems from what is known as E. coli. These are bacteria which live in or nearby the colon and around the anus. This bacteria moves from the anal area to the opening of the urethra either by incorrect wiping (back to front instead of front to back) or through sexual intercourse.
Urinating usually helps to flush the bacteria out of the body, however if there is too large a quantity then this will not help.
The people who are more at risk of this infection include those who suffer from kidney stones or conditions which do not allow proper emptying of the bladder such as spinal cord injuries, postmenopausal women as they have lower levels of oestrogen and thus vulnerable to UTI’s and those with weakened immune systems who suffer from diabetes and/or HIV/AIDS.
The symptoms of lower urinary tract infection include
- Inflammation and irritation of the lining of the urethra and bladder
- Pain and/or burning whilst urinating
- More frequent urination
- Urine can smell bad, be cloudy and contain blood
- Lower abdominal pain or pressure
- Low fever and chills
The symptoms of upper urinary tract infection include:
- Possible symptoms of the lower urinary tract infection
- High Fever
- Shaking and/or chills
- Pain in the back or on the sides
If you or someone you know have any of these symptoms, consult your doctor immediately for treatment. These symptoms usually start improving 24 hours after treatment.
Preventative measures which can be taken:
- Wipe from front to back after a bowel movement
- Empty the bladder regularly and completely, especially after sexual intercourse
- Drink lots of water
- Drink cranberry juice regularly as research shows that it can help prevent UTIs
Please do your best to avoid these infections by taking note of the above guidelines. However, do not worry if you do get one, as they are easily diagnosed and treated.