Running with Illness: Urinary Tract Infections

In terms of physiology, it is clear that many of the factors that weigh heavily on exercise performance-particularly hydration levels, blood-sugar levels, and cardiopulmonary status-are the same ones chiefly affected by certain disease states. Unfortunately, a lot of women, and some men, at one time or another will experience a urinary tract infection, commonly called a UTI.

As stated above, Urinary Tract Infections (UTI's) are of particular concern to women runners, UTI's can involve the lower urinary tract or, in more severe cases, the kidneys. Antibiotics generally resolve the problem in short order, but the after-effects may persist for a week or two beyond the resolution of symptoms. Keeping these at bay can be summed up in a word: hydrate.

Premature return to the roads for hard workouts could lead to relapse because of the stress of dehydration on the kidneys. Doctor's suggest starting back to running with only easy workouts for the first week or so, paying strict attention to fluid intake, and perhaps adding cranberry juice-shown in some studies to reduce recurrence of UTI's- to the diet.

Although not completely unavoidable, there are many things you can do to help prevent UTIs, and wearing proper running gear is a big one. You want to make sure the underwear you wear while running pulls sweat and moisture away from you, if not it will give bacteria a place to grow. There are also many alternative medicines you can use (see picture at the right) instead of prescriptions medicines, these "home type remedies" can reduce dehydration, and there are many "home type remedies" can help prevent getting them in the first place including the following:

  • Cranberry juice
  • Baking soda and water
  • Drinking lots of water

When To See A Doctor

Many women (and men) think UTIs are no big deal, and usually they are right, but it is important to know when you see a doctor.

If you have more than two urinary tract infections (or what you think are urinary tract infections) in 6 months, or more than three episodes in 12 months, see a doctor, says Kristene E. Whitmore, M.D., chief of urology and director of the Incontinence Center at Graduate Hospital in Philadelphia.

"It's critical that we get the message out to women that if they have recurrent symptoms, they need to check with their doctors and ask for a urine culture," says Linda Brubaker, M.D., director of the Section of Urogynecology and Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago. "Just because you have symptoms, it does not mean that you have an infection. There's a difference between having inflammation in your urethra, which can cause sensitivity and irritation, and having a bacterial infection. I've seen women who were eating antibiotics by the pound for years, and they never had an infection to begin with. Many women think that they have a bladder infection every month, but they don't."

Women doctors say that you should always consult a physician if you experience any of the following symptoms.

  • Blood in your urine
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Lower-back pain

You should also see a doctor if you've been diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and the symptoms don't start clearing up within two days.

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4 comments

Monk 8 years ago

Cranberry and blueberry juice is most common natural home remedy to use in treating urinary tract infection. As it has a lot of C vitamine it also makes bladder wall slippery so bacteria cannot stick to it.


Alycia 6 years ago

Contrary to popular belief, cranberry juice is NOT good for you when you have already contracted a UTI. The acid only wears more so on the inner lining of the urinary tract. Cranberry juice is very good for PREVENTING infections, but should not be consumed once infection has set in.


Emily 5 years ago

hot water with two tsp. honey, one tsp. cinnamon. Really good.


RV 5 years ago

Coconut juice is best for people with UTI

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