Does Race Affect the Chance of Developing a Urinary Tract Infection? 

Urinary tract infections (UTIs), known for causing a painful, burning sensation and an increased urge to urinate, are the second most common type of infection. A UTI is also known as a bladder infection. 

As many as 60% of women will have a UTI in their lifetime, compared to just 3% of men. According to a self-reported analysis of American women, UTIs are prevalent in 24.2% of American Indian, 16.6% of white, 20.3% of Black and 18.3% of Hispanic or Latino women. 

So yes, race does appear to affect a person’s chance of developing a UTI. However, recent studies have shown that race isn’t as important to an individual’s risk as once believed. Instead, whether or not a patient has had a UTI before (repeated infections) and their gender are the most reliable risk factors for developing a UTI. 

Women are more susceptible to UTIs because their urethras are shorter than those in men. Women are also more likely to have repeated infections, indicated by two or more UTIs within six months or three or more within a year. People with diabetes and postmenopausal women have increased odds of contracting a UTI. Urinary tract infections are commonly treated with antibiotics, which help the body kill the causative bacteria. In patients with certain illnesses such as diabetes or kidney stones, a UTI can spread to the kidneys and become a life-threatening situation. 

Holding urine in the bladder for long periods of time allows bacteria the opportunity to grow, leading to a UTI.  If you need to use the restroom, don’t fight the urge to urinate. Your bladder is like a toilet, if you don’t flush it, unwanted refuse will build up, increasing your body’s chance of infection. Proper hygiene helps reduce your chances of having a UTI. In order to decrease the likelihood of bacteria in or near the bladder, it’s recommended that you: drink plenty of water, always wipe from front to back, use the restroom after sexual activity and wear cotton underwear.

If you’re experiencing a painful and frequent need to urinate, noticing cloudy or smelly urine or showing signs of fever, contact your doctor. And of course, if you ever see blood in your urine, contact your primary care doctor or urologist right away. 

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