HEALTH

Study: UTIs more frequent in women with increased sexual activity, alcohol consumption

BY Michael Johnsen

LINTHICUM, Md. Increased sexual activity and alcohol consumption were associated with an increased risk of developing urinary tract infections, according to new research presented at the 104th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Urological Association on Sunday.

From July 2001 through April 2005, researchers studied 181 women with their first UTI who presented to the student health care facility at the University of Florida. The control group consisted of 80 women attending the clinic without a UTI. A clinic nurse administered a survey that addressed lifestyle habits and dietary intake. Results showed that frequency and urgency were the most common symptom, and that UTIs were most commonly found in women who had increased sexual activity and recent alcohol consumption. The use of sanitary napkins during menstruation also increased the risk for a first-time UTI.

Co-existing chlamydia, gonorrhea and yeast infections did not contribute significantly to urinary symptoms.

“If you are experiencing urinary frequency and urgency, you should seek medical attention,” stated Anthony Smith, an AUA spokesman. “A woman experiencing her first UTI might not recognize these symptoms immediately. But, medical attention is necessary because UTIs can lead to kidney infection and even sepsis. So, it is important for women who notice these symptoms to seek medical attention.”

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HEALTH

Nationwide survey reveals that overactive bladder symptoms compromise womens’ lives

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO Recent results from a nationwide survey of women between the ages of 40 and 65 show that the symptoms of overactive bladder are compromising their sense of normalcy and making their complicated lives even more difficult to manage.

The survey, conducted for The National Association For Continence by Kelton Research and sponsored by Medtronic, compared women ages 40 to 65 who have experienced symptoms of OAB, which affect as many as 33 million Americans, to women in the same age group overall.

Both groups of women say that physical health is more important than emotional health when it comes to living a normal life. In fact, nearly 9-in-10 women in each group say that being healthy is a prerequisite to achieving a sense of balance in life – far more than those who report needing adequate levels of money or time to achieve balance. Unfortunately, just over half of women surveyed describe their health as normal, with OAB sufferers reporting feeling physically normal less often than women in this age group overall – 56% of the time among OAB sufferers vs. 71% among women in general.

Women with OAB also report lower levels of normalcy in other aspects of their lives, including their relationships with friends and family, emotional state, careers and social lives than reported by women overall. In fact, despite a trying economy, more than one in four (26%) women with OAB are more concerned about managing their OAB symptoms than saving for retirement.

An overwhelming majority (78%) of women with OAB who have sought treatment did so because they were frustrated with living with the symptoms – far fewer (38%) were motivated by physical discomfort. Unfortunately, almost half (49%) of women with OAB don’t think they’ll ever be able to completely control their symptoms.

Approximately 88% of women who have treated their OAB have turned to medication. But 25% are dissatisfied with how they are managing their condition.

“This data demonstrates that a considerable number of middle-aged women are frustrated with their OAB treatment,” stated Nancy Muller, executive director of NAFC. “There needs to be more public education so people are made aware of their options for OAB treatment beyond just medications. Clearly, there’s room for more engagement for discussion by primary care providers with their patients.”

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Kaiser Family Foundation: Patients hold off medical care due to cost

BY Alaric DeArment

MENLO PARK, Calif. A health tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation released Thursday finds that the recession has forced a majority of respondents to put off medical care due to the cost.

The nationwide telephone poll of more than 1,000 adults found that 42% of respondents substituted home remedies or OTC drugs for doctor visits, while 36% skipped dental care or checkups, 29% didn’t fill prescriptions and 18% cut pills in half or skipped doses.

A large majority of respondents, 59%, said healthcare reform is more important than ever, while 37% said it was unaffordable because of economic problems.

“Our polls suggest strong support for health reform, but the public can be swayed on the key details,” Kaiser president and CEO Drew Altman said. “There is still a tremendous opportunity for leadership, but also for interest groups to define the direction of the health reform debate.”

To pay for healthcare reform, 71% supported increasing taxes on families making more than $250,000 per year, but 28% supported increasing income taxes across the board. At the same time, 61% favored “sin” taxes on items such as alcohol, cigarettes, soda and junk food. Slightly more than half, 52%, opposed taxing money that employers put toward the most generous health benefits, and 62% those who have employer-sponsored health insurance opposed the idea.

Responses did, however, depend on political affiliation. More than 80% of Democrats and 60% of independents strongly or somewhat favored having a public health plan, compared to 49% of Republicans.

The foundation randomly contacted 1,203 adults aged 18 and older by phone and conducted the poll in English and Spanish. The poll had a margin error of plus or minus three percentage points.

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