How to cope if you continue to have urinary tract infections
Photos: Courtesy of Sophie, Rime and Liz (LR)
Although more than 60% of women and others with a vagina will suffer from a urinary tract infection (UTI) in their lifetime, almost a quarter of them will be abandoned by their primary caregivers, resulting in will lead to misdiagnoses, invasive procedures, and chronic disease.
A short film, The UTI documentary, produced by health historian Dr Agnes Arnold-Forster, offers insight into a conversation between women of different ages who have lived through chronic and recurrent UTIs.
These include Liz, 30, whose experiences were not taken seriously until she was hospitalized and consulted with a private specialist; Sophie, 22, who had back-to-back UTIs for six months as a student and Rime, 28, whose experience moving from GP to A&E and back again has led to deep mistrust towards the UK health care system and to double spending. the prescription price of antibiotics purchased online.
Arnold-Forster is not surprised by their treatment. “I changed my title to ‘Dr.’ at my GP’s office and it made such a big difference, “she says,” which is obviously like a terrible accusation of how doctors treat people normally. “
The main hope of their documentary is to start a conversation about the challenges people living with chronic diseases – namely UTIs – face in the healthcare system. Here, Arnold-Forster and three other chronic UTI sufferers featured in the documentary offer the advice they would give each other at the start of their journey.
FORM YOUR OWN COMMUNITY
Throughout history, Arnold-Forster says building communities has been a common way to learn more and seek support for chronic disease. “Where traditional medicine has failed, [women] had to rely on each other, ”she said. “While it doesn’t provide clinical relief, a solution, or a cure, at least what it does is build a support network and an emotional community that enables them to deal with something that is otherwise intractable.”
Other contributors, like Liz, whose mother Jill is also featured in the documentary, recommend reaching out to those closest to you. “When I started telling my friends, mom and family about it, I suddenly realized I wasn’t alone,” Liz says. “So just talk, because I think people think it’s an embarrassing thing and it’s not. It’s private to a degree, but a lot of us go through it.
It was a similar case for Sophie, who found a close friend of her openly talking about UTIs. “I was in college for women and non-binary students, so a lot of people had UTIs because it’s so common,” she explains. “I had never really talked to her, but she was like ‘Oh my God I have another urinary tract infection’ and I was like, you gotta try D-mannose [a dietary supplement thought to ease symptoms]. “
NOT ALL TIPS WORK
Although most of the advice given by healthcare professionals, such as “pee after sex,” “drink more water,” or “try cranberry juice” can be beneficial for occasional UTIs, it is relatively helpful. unnecessary for chronically ill people.
Sophie says that puts the blame on those who are suffering: “I don’t know what other illnesses you think you can prevent by your own will. Usually, no one makes you feel like it’s your fault, but with UTIs it definitely is.
Instead, most of the women interviewed in the documentary found most of their information about antibiotic dosages, supplements, and home remedies useful through forums and other online communities. Liz warns you that you have to be selective about what you try: “A lot of home remedies can numb the symptoms for a while,” she says. “But they don’t clean the infection side and that can lead to chronic UTI then.”
FOLLOW YOUR SYMPTMS
Rime’s mistrust of healthcare professionals has led her to be hyper-vigilant about her own UTI symptoms so that she can anticipate when she will need help without depending. from his general practitioner.
“I would say everyone should find a pattern in their UTIs. Notice patterns and consistency, and document when you start to feel each symptom, ”she says. “A lot of it will be trial and error, so this is important, especially because in the beginning you will have to depend on GPs and the medical industry to help you understand what is going to work. . “
COME AND PREPARE
While there’s no cheat code to make sure your GP takes your chronic urinary tract infection seriously, Arnold-Forster says it’s important to be prepared before your appointment.
“The thing to do is to go armed with the evidence to make sure you know exactly what you’re talking about and that you can speak in terms that they will understand, even if that means doing a lot of research yourself,” she says. . “Another thing that is really crucial is that a lot of people in the UK don’t realize that you are allowed to seek a second opinion. If your GP doesn’t take you seriously, you have every right to ask. to talk to someone else Just because you don’t pay for it doesn’t mean you aren’t entitled to good care.
The UTI documentary will be published as part of the Healthy Skepticism Film Festival from September 24 to 26.