Although most cases are women, we also come across men and seniors who are prone towards infection of the urinary tract or prostate. For the purposes of this article we will discuss infections of the lower urinary tract which occur in the urethra and the bladder. It should be noted that UTIs can become a chronic problem for many women resulting in a nearly constant need for antibiotics to keep the bacteria in check. There are a number of subgroups of women who are prone towards developing UTIs, these include:
- Pregnant women – UTIs are considered the most common infection in pregnant women and can place the fetus at risk of complication. Infections in pregnancy must be treated immediately in order to prevent such complications.
- Women in college – Frequent sexual activity is certainly linked to risk of UTIs and a number of studies have found college-age women are at increased risk.
- Women with extenuating circumstances – Such situations as neurogenic bladder, post-menopausal women with diabetes, poor health, vaginal dryness or previous UTI.
Why do UTI Infections Occur?
Guess what, every woman has a urinary tract infection! No urinary tract is sterile and that is a good thing. In a healthy urinary tract, a number of bacterial species act as its defenders. When the healthy bacteria are killed off then the tract is left defenseless and other, less friendly bacteria, can grow unchecked and a UTI occurs. The most common cause of UTIs in otherwise healthy women is E. Coli, a common bacteria found in the intestines, which has long appendages that attach to the bladder and urethral wall. There are a number of factors that can set the stage for bacterial infection of the urinary tract:
- Exposure to spermicide which can kill the normal flora of the urinary tract
- Chronic low-grade dehydration
- Previous antibiotic use
- Chronic stress
- Poorly functioning immune system
- A swing in urinary pH
A step by step approach to preventing urinary tract infections:
- Keep well hydrated. Your first defense from infection is a regular flow of urine. If you urinate on a regular basis, any bacteria that may be trying to colonize in the urinary tract may not have an opportunity to attach to the wall of the urethra or bladder. Keeping well hydrated will also prevent the pH of the urine from becoming hospitable to the unwanted bacteria.
- Add cranberry concentrate to your water. If you like sipping on something with a little flavor, try adding Cranberry Concentrate from Genesis Today to your water. This is a highly concentrated cranberry juice that is high in plant compounds that prevent adhesion of E. Coli to the lining of the urinary tract.
- Take a probiotic daily. Probiotics are encapsulated bacteria that help to colonize the intestinal system and urinary tract. One such probiotic formula appears to be especially beneficial for those who suffer with chronic urinary tract infections. This formula is called YC-7 by Sedona labs and is taken 2 capsules daily for the first week and then one capsule daily thereafter for 6 weeks. After this 6 week period we can switch to a more broad spectrum product called iFlora for maintenance which is taken 1 capsule daily.
- In situations where UTIs seem to occur after sexual intercourse, I would recommend taking a product that we will discuss in the following section, this product is a sugar called D-mannose. The recommended dose to prevent intercourse-induced UTIs is 1 teaspoon of D-Mannose mixed in water and taken orally after intercourse. Take another teaspoon of D-mannose 4-6 hours later. This can help to prevent a UTI from occurring.
When you have a UTI…
If you are reading this article then you likely either have a UTI or you are prone towards UTIs. For those who have not had a UTI, common symptoms include:
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Pain or burning sensation on urination
- Bladder pain (even when not urinating)
- Difficulty urinating
It is important to note that if the pain reaches the lower back or you have fever, nausea or vomiting it could indicate that the infection has moved into the kidney which is a much more serious situation. It is also important to note that children usually do not present with the same symptoms as adults. Often children can present with irritability, fever, lack of appetite and incontinence.
At the first sign of symptoms, it is important to begin right away to get the infection kicked before it has an opportunity to take hold. Follow the instruction below:
- D-Mannose – Mannose is the active sugar found in cranberry, now that this compound is available, cranberry has become nearly obsolete as it pertains to dealing with an existing infection. Cranberry is still of great value for people who are looking to prevent infection, however, if an infection exists then we recommend the mannose. Mannose works by preventing the E. Coli bacteria from being able to hold on to the bladder and urethra wall. It is not uncommon for people to see significant improvements within the first 24 hours of taking the D-mannose powder. Take 2 scoops for the first dose, then take 1 scoop every 3 hours. Often times the symptoms begin to subside within hours. It is recommended and this alone is all that people need to take care of the infection.
- Berberine – This is a plant chemical called a plant alkaloid that is present in many plants such as goldenseal, barberry and Oregon grape. This compound appears to prevent the bacteria from forming those long appendages that permit them to hold to the urethral and bladder wall. Berberine also appears to inhibit the first stage of bacterial development and has shown activity against a broad spectrum of bacteria, including the E.Coli. I recommend the Berberine 500 mg by Thorne research: 1 capsule three times daily.
- Potassium/Magnesium Citrate – The citrate helps to alkalinize the urine which can enhance the effect of other natural products such as berberine and mannose. In one study, sodium citrate improved symptoms of a UTI in 80% of the women in the study. The citrate salts can also protect from Candida infection in the urinary tract. Take potassium/magnesium citrate 2 capsules two to three times daily for 7 days.
It is important to note that in many situations with UTI infection, D-mannose is usually sufficient to correct the issue. I have given two other options that can be used in situations when you do not have access to mannose or you want to take an aggressive stance against the infection.