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How to protect yourself against summer urinary tract infections

Risk of UTIs rises with dehydration, UT Southwestern urologist says

Maude Carmel, M.D., Associate Professor of Urology

DALLAS – Sept. 1, 2022 – Summertime means lots of opportunities for fun in the sun. But this year’s high temperatures also bring an increased risk of dehydration that can cause urinary tract infections (UTIs), said Maude Carmel, M.D., Associate Professor of Urology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. These common infections are marked by a burning sensation or pain with urination, increased urinary frequency, urinary urgency, and blood in the urine (a condition called hematuria).

“Patients can experience more UTIs during the summer due to inadequate fluid intake, especially in the historic heat waves we’ve been experiencing,” said Dr. Carmel, a urology specialist at UTSW, ranked No. 11 in the nation for urology care by U.S. News & World Report. “Dehydration is a leading risk factor for UTIs.”

It’s a common misconception that painful urination automatically signals a UTI, she added. Many other conditions can mimic the symptoms of these infections. Definitively diagnosing a UTI requires a urine culture; a urinalysis, or dipstick test, is not enough. Another common myth is that UTIs can be treated with cranberry juice. Although cranberry supplements can reduce some risk of infection, juice is too diluted to make a difference.

Dr. Carmel explained that anyone experiencing UTI symptoms should make an appointment to be examined by their primary care physician. If a patient has more than three UTIs diagnosed in a year, seeing a urologist could help to narrow down the cause with additional testing and evaluation of individual risk factors.

To reduce your chance of a UTI this summer, Dr. Carmel recommends taking these steps:

  • Keep yourself well hydrated by drinking at least two liters of fluid every day.
  • Urinate frequently – at least every three hours.
  • Avoid constipation.
  • Urinate after intercourse.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern, one of the nation’s premier academic medical centers, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 26 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 17 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The full-time faculty of more than 2,900 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in more than 80 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients, more than 360,000 emergency room cases, and oversee nearly 4 million outpatient visits a year.