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Written by

Kate Dyson

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Kate is a content specialist who is passionate about women's health. She's also mum to three kids, two dogs and unsurprisingly, a lover of wine.

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Glossary

For words you might want to know more

Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is the unintentional passing of urine. It's a common problem thought to affect millions of people. There are several types of urinary incontinence, including: stress incontinence – when urine leaks out at times when your bladder is under pressure; for example, when you cough or laugh.

Bladder weakness

Stress incontinence is usually the result of the weakening of or damage to the muscles used to prevent urination, such as the pelvic floor muscles and the urethral sphincter. Urge incontinence is usually the result of overactivity of the detrusor muscles, which control the bladder.

Gig economy

A 'gig economy,' is a free market system in which temporary positions are common

Why do I get more UTIs on holiday?

Going on holiday is your opportunity to relax and explore new destinations; but for some women, it's also the time they may find themselves facing an uncomfortable issue: an increase in urinary tract infections (UTIs). Why are some women prone to more UTIs when they are abroad?

What is a UTI?

Urinary tract infections are commonly known as UTIs, and are an infection that occurs in any part of the urinary system. This includes the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. Most UTIs are caused by bacteria, with Escherichia coli (E. coli) being the most common culprit. While anyone can develop a UTI, women are more prone to these infections due to anatomical differences, such as a shorter urethra.

Why is there an increased risk of getting a UTI while on holiday?

When we book our holiday the only thing we are thinking of is relaxation, time with family and friends and maybe seeing some sights. But if you are one of the unlucky bunch who experience an increased likelihood of developing UTI while on holiday, it can be a potentially miserable time.

It might seem perplexing that your UTIs tend to occur more frequently while you're on holiday, especially if you don't seem to experience them that often at home. However, several factors associated with travel can contribute to this increased risk. Let's explore some of the key reasons:

Changes in Routine:

Travel disrupts our daily routines, including our eating and sleeping patterns. These changes can affect our body's immune system, making us more susceptible to infections, including UTIs.

Dehydration:

During travel, especially when flying or exploring warmer climates, it's easy to become dehydrated. Insufficient water intake can lead to concentrated urine, which creates an environment favourable for bacteria to grow and multiply.

Changes in Bathroom Habits:

While on holiday, we may encounter unfamiliar bathrooms, public facilities, or even inadequate hygiene practices. These factors can increase the likelihood of bacteria entering the urethra, leading to UTIs.

Increase in Alcohol Consumption:

Many people tend to indulge in alcoholic beverages while on vacation. However, excessive alcohol consumption can irritate the bladder and increase urine production, which may contribute to UTIs.

Exposure to Bacteria:

Various aspects of travel, such as swimming pools, synthetic fabrics, sea water, and even hotel room amenities, can expose us to different bacteria. These factors may contribute to the risk of developing UTIs.

What can I do to prevent UTIs while I'm away?

So what can we do to prevent UTIs while we are on holiday - and get back some of that pain-free relaxation time we were hoping for?!

Here's some handy tips to maintain your bladder health while enjoying your holiday:

  1. Stay hydrated: Make a conscious effort to drink plenty of water throughout your trip. Aim for at least eight glasses (64 ounces) per day. Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption, as these can contribute to dehydration.

  2. Maintain good hygiene: Practice good hygiene by washing your hands frequently, especially before and after using the bathroom. Carry hand sanitizers for situations where handwashing facilities may be limited.

  3. Empty your bladder regularly: Don't hold your urine for extended periods. Make sure to empty your bladder regularly, as this helps flush out any bacteria that may have entered the urinary tract.

  4. Wear breathable fabrics: When it comes to clothing, choose breathable fabrics like cotton or linen. Synthetic materials can trap moisture, creating a warm environment that is conducive to bacterial growth.

  5. Don't sit in wet bathing suits: Sitting in a wet bathing suit for an extended period can create a damp environment that promotes bacterial growth. Change out of your swimsuit as soon as possible after swimming and give it rinse out with cold water to get rid of any nasties.

  6. Take precautions in pools and hot tubs: Unfortunately, pools and hot tubs aren't always clean and contaminated water can be one of the main reasons why you might be experiencing an increase in UTIs. This precaution is recommended because the presence of chlorine and other disinfectants in the water can irritate the urethra and disrupt the natural balance of bacteria, potentially leading to UTIs. If you really want to swim, ensure that you shower thoroughly as soon as you come out of the pool and remove any wet swimsuits as advised above.

Want to know how to manage recurrent infections? Here's our article, "Why can't I get rid of my frequent UTI?' to help!

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