Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) / Bladder Infection (Cystitis)
Symptoms include Urinary urgency, urinary frequency, painful urination. These are relatively common symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI), although only about half of those who acquire a UTI are symptomatic. People most prone to UTIs are women of childbearing age.
The major components of the urinary tract include the following: kidneys, bladder, urethra, and prostate (in males). A UTI may involve any of the above structures. If it involves the kidneys, it is termed an upper UTI; if it involves the others, it is a lower UTI. Bladder infections can also cause lower abdominal pain, fever, chills or visible drops of blood in your urine. In 90% of cases, UTIs are caused by the Escheichia coli (E. Coli) bacterium, a certain number of which are necessary in our intestines for proper digestion. E. coli, however, doesn’t belong in the urethra or bladder. Normally, the bug lives at the end of the digestive tract. It can get easily swiped forward to the opening of the urethra, which is the tube that goes up to the bladder. In women, this tube is much shorter and closer to the rectum. Inadequate sexual hygiene is responsible for many UTIs. Women who suffer from recurrent bladder infections, however, should be tested for the presence of other bugs, especially Chlamydia trachomatis, a sexually transmitted disease that typically doesn’t cause any symptoms in men. Another common irritant to the urinary tract is synthetic estrogen, in the form of birth control pills or postmenopausal hormone support. If you are on the pill and suffer from frequent UTIs, you need to find another form of birth control.
Other factors that can increase your chances of getting a bladder infection include pregnancy, diaphragm use and diabetes.
Avoiding an Infection as always, disease prevention is the best approach to health management. Since many UTIs flare up after sex, especially with a new partner, good sexual hygiene is the first step toward prevention. Here are some basic tips to remember: Wipe from front to back every time you use the toilet. Try to avoid using perfumed soaps or lotions on your genital area because they may irritate your skin and make you more susceptible to a bladder infection.
Make sure your partner has clean hands, fingernails, mouth, private parts, etc., before engaging in sexual activity. Try to empty your bladder before and after sex, to help wash bacteria away from the bladder. Drink plenty of fluids, especially pure water, which helps encourage frequent urination. Fluids also help dilute the urine, which makes it less attractive to bacteria, and keep the mucous membranes (which includes the bladder) moist and healthy. Try to drink a cup (8 oz.) of water for every 25 lbs. of body weight daily, ideally between meals so as not to dilute digestive enzymes. Wear loose clothing that isn’t too tight around your genital area, and choose 100% cotton underpants, or at least lingerie with a cotton crotch.
A naturopathic approach to treating someone with an UTI/Bladder infection usually involves a referral to a medical doctor for anti-biotics. If the infection can be caught in the first 48 hours, aggressive treatment with probitoics, anti-microbials, cranberry extracts and a modified elimination diet may be successful in treating those with an UTI, however if symptoms are not at least 50% better in 24 hours, anti-bitoics may still be necessary to avoid the infection spreading to the kidneys.