While undergoing chemotherapy, the side effects of treatment may sometimes cause you to experience dehydration or make it harder for your body to fight infection. Both of these things can lead to patients experiencing urinary tract infections, or UTIs.
Although this indicates that chemotherapy treatment can make you more prone to these infections, the good news is there are measures you can take to help minimize the risk. Here are eight ways you can combat UTIs while undergoing chemo. However, if you still develop a urinary tract infection despite your best efforts, please notify your doctor so you can get the proper treatment immediately.
8. Wear Cotton Underwear
Cotton underwear allows airflow to the genital area, which helps keep the area dry. Other fabrics, including nylon and Spandex, trap moisture and heat that can lead to bacteria growth. Change your underwear daily, and always wash new underwear before wearing to remove dyes and chemicals that may irritate your vaginal area. These can also lead to urinary tract infections.
7. Opt For Loose Clothing
Similarly, loose clothing allows airflow to your skin, which can help keep your skin dry and fight bacteria growth. Try not to wear clothes that are tight in the groin area, as they can trap heat and moisture. If you wear pajamas while you sleep, try to wear breathable fabrics in loose-fitting styles.
6. Drink Cranberry Juice
Cranberry juice can help make your urine acidic, and cranberries contain chemicals that prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract. The bacteria becomes more likely to be flushed away by urine.
5. Take Vitamin C
Vitamin C is also believed to acidify urine, which helps prevent UTIs by limiting the growth of bacteria. Urine naturally contains chemicals called nitrates, which bacteria can convert into different chemicals called nitrites when it enters your urinary tract. The presence of nitrites can indicate a UTI. Urine that is acidified converts the nitrites to nitrogen oxides, which are toxic to bacteria that cause UTIs.
4. Drink Plenty of Water
Try to drink at least six to eight glasses of water per day, which keeps you hydrated and increases your need to urinate throughout the day. This extra fluid dilutes your urine and helps flush out your bladder, therefore flushing out bacteria.
3. Don’t Put Off Using The Restroom
Water that doesn’t move grows stagnant, and that’s more or less what happens inside your bladder if you habitually “hold it” for long periods of time. The urine in the bladder can potentially be holding germs, and thus giving bacteria a home. Some doctors recommend using the restroom every four to six hours if you’re prone to developing urinary tract infections.
2. Maintain Proper Hygiene
Bacteria that gets into your urethra can come from your vagina or your rectal area. This is why it is important to wipe from front to back after using the restroom: to avoid drawing fecal matter to your urethra. Pat your vaginal area dry after urination to help keep the area clean. If possible, try washing with mild soap and water after bowel movements.
1. Avoid Creams, Lotions, Feminine Sprays, or Oils
Refrain from using feminine products around the vaginal area. Scented douches, creams, sprays, powders, and deodorants can be potentially irritating and lead to infections. If you have hygiene concerns, consult your doctor.
It’s important to remember that UTIs are not your fault. Some cases of infection may be easier to prevent than others. But adopting these practices will not only help you fight the risk of a urinary tract infection; they can also help you feel hydrated and fresh, which can help you feel better overall.
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