Can Coffee Give You a Urinary Tract Infection?

Urinary tract infections -- or UTIs -- are common bacterial infections that affect your urinary system. The University of Maryland Medical Center indicates that UTIs are much more common in women than in men 1. In fact, 50 percent of women are likely to experience at least one UTI. Urinary tract infections have a variety of causes 12. Coffee s not a cause of UTIs. However, coffee should be avoided during treatment for a UTI.

UTI Causes

Urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria entering your urethra, ureters, kidneys or bladder. There are a number of risk factors that can increase your chances of developing UTIs. Being female, sexually active and using certain forms of birth control -- including diaphragms -- can lead to UTIs. Pregnancy and diabetes also place you at an increased risk for developing UTIs. Heavy antibiotic use, holding urine for too long, tumors, the use of irritating products -- such as cleansers or scented tampons -- and having prior UTIs can increase your risk of developing urinary tract infections.

Diagnosis and Treatment

You cannot treat UTIs on your own. Symptoms of UTIs include:

  • a burning sensation during urination
  • abdominal pain
  • cloudy or blood-colored urine
  • foul-smelling urine
  • the frequent need to urinate
  • passing small amounts of urine at a time
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • chills
  • a fever

If you have any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor or visit an urgent care or emergency facility. UTIs that go untreated can lead to kidney infections. Your doctor will take a medical history, perform a physical exam and require a urine specimen to diagnose a urinary tract infection 2. You will likely be placed on a course of antibiotics for one to seven days. You will also be told to avoid sexual activity and drink plenty of fluids.

Coffee and UTIs

Individuals with urinary tract infections are often asked to avoid caffeine products, including coffee. Coffee cannot cause a urinary tract infection, but it can intensify your symptoms 2. The caffeine found in coffee can irritate your bladder and cause bacteria to stick to the lining of your bladder. Caffeine can also increase your urge to urinate. As a result, you will experience more symptoms -- including burning and pain during urination. Coffee and other caffeine products should be avoided until all of your symptoms have subsided.

Fluid Intake and UTIs

If you are a heavy coffee drinker, it is important to get your fluids elsewhere while receiving treatment for urinary tract infections. Hydration is important while recovering from a UTI. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends consuming six to eight glasses of water per day 1. In addition to water, you can also consume clear liquids. One example of a clear liquid is cranberry juice. Cranberries are an antioxidant that can help prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of your bladder. Liquids are important in helping to cleanse and flush your kidneys naturally. Clear liquids can help to dilute your urine, making urination more comfortable.

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