Does your diet increase the risk of recurring urinary tract infections?

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In a recent study published in JAMA Network Open, a group of researchers assessed the influence of behavioral risk factors such as diet, body weight, and lifestyle on the prevalence of urinary infections.

Study: Incidence of Urinary Infections and Behavioral Risk Factors. Image Credit: valiantsin suprunovich/Shutterstock.comStudy: Incidence of Urinary Infections and Behavioral Risk Factors. Image Credit: valiantsin suprunovich/Shutterstock.com

Background 

Urinary infections, increasingly prevalent with over 404.6 million cases globally in 2019, significantly impact life quality and can lead to premature death if not managed well.

Risk factors commonly caused by bacteria like Escherichia coli include age, sexual behavior, female anatomy, immune suppression, and contraceptive methods. Antibiotic misuse exacerbates pathogen resistance, complicating treatment.

Untreated urinary tract infections (UTIs) can cause severe complications like pyelonephritis, renal failure, and risks during pregnancy. Recurrences are common and are influenced by various lifestyle and health factors.

Diet and lifestyle play crucial roles in prevention, with proper nutrition, hydration, and healthy habits essential in reducing recurrence risks and improving immune resistance.

Further research is necessary to understand better and effectively address the complex interplay of factors influencing the incidence and recurrence of urinary infections.

About the study 

The present study, adopting a cross-sectional observational design, utilized a 39-item questionnaire to explore the frequency of urinary infections in relation to behavioral risk factors. Literature, expert opinions, and the target population's characteristics informed the questionnaire's development.

Distributed online between July and August 2023 through social media, WhatsApp, and institutional emails, the survey targeted employees and students across three Romanian university centers.

An emphasis was placed on anonymity and data protection to ensure participant confidentiality and accurate responses. Only individuals over 18 residing in Romania were included in the study, which received ethical approval from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Craiova.

The questionnaire's validation involved a pilot study with 170 participants, overseen by experts in urology, nutrition, and survey design. Adjustments were made for clarity and precision, achieving a Cronbach's α of 0.86 for consistency.

The study used Cochran's formula to determine a sample size of 601, ensuring representative data with a 95% confidence level.

Following data collection, 1033 valid responses were analyzed. The questionnaire's reliability was reaffirmed by a Cronbach α coefficient of 0.86. Descriptive statistics provided a baseline overview of the participants, while the chi-square test and correspondence analysis evaluated the impact of various factors on urinary infection frequency.

Multinomial logistic regression was employed to assess the influence of dietary habits on infection rates. The statistical analysis, ensuring significance at p-values less than 0.05, was conducted using XLSTAT and SPSS software, ensuring a thorough and reliable exploration of the study's objectives.

Study results 

In the study, researchers gathered 1,103 valid responses predominantly from women, who made up 80.1% of the participants.

Analysis of the anthropometric data revealed that 46.6% of respondents were of normal weight, predominantly women, whereas a significant proportion of male respondents were overweight or obese.

The study found that urinary infections were more common among women, a fact reflected in the gender distribution of the participants. Most respondents, 76.2%, were under 45 years old, and most hailed from urban areas, likely due to higher online activity in these regions.

Over 80% of the participants had postsecondary education or higher. In terms of employment, the largest group comprised those who commuted to work or worked in a hybrid mode, while a small fraction worked remotely.

The study found that individuals aged 26-35 were most prone to urinary infections, while those 18-25 reported the least.

It revealed a link between infection frequency and factors like sexual contact and showed that healthier diets, especially among women over 45, correlated with lower infection rates.

Further analysis using multiple linear regression showed that age, education level, weight, and urinary infection frequency significantly influenced dietary choices.

Younger individuals, rural residents, and those with lower education levels were more likely to adhere to an unhealthy diet. Additionally, underweight individuals and those with frequent urinary infections also tended towards less healthy dietary habits.

Sex and age were also significant factors in the frequency of UTIs. Women, especially in the 26–35 age group, reported more frequent infections.

In terms of treatment, many respondents first sought over-the-counter remedies, with some turning to medical consultation only after self-medication failed. Antibiotics and antifungals were common treatments, with antibiograms used frequently by those with recurrent infections.

The study also noted that common symptoms of urinary infections included frequent urination, burning sensations, and pain. Natural treatments like cranberry-based products and herbal teas were popular among respondents.

Sedentary lifestyles were linked to more frequent infections, highlighting the role of physical activity in preventing urinary infections.

Journal reference:
Vijay Kumar Malesu

Written by

Vijay Kumar Malesu

Vijay holds a Ph.D. in Biotechnology and possesses a deep passion for microbiology. His academic journey has allowed him to delve deeper into understanding the intricate world of microorganisms. Through his research and studies, he has gained expertise in various aspects of microbiology, which includes microbial genetics, microbial physiology, and microbial ecology. Vijay has six years of scientific research experience at renowned research institutes such as the Indian Council for Agricultural Research and KIIT University. He has worked on diverse projects in microbiology, biopolymers, and drug delivery. His contributions to these areas have provided him with a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter and the ability to tackle complex research challenges.    

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