Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s)
Urinary Tract infections (UTI’s) are infections of the urinary system, most commonly of the bladder and the urethra( the tube that passes urine from the bladder to the outside of your body). They are caused when bacteria enter through the urethra and grow and multiply. Most commonly, the bacteria associated with UTI is E. Coli (Escherichia coli) which normally lives in your intestines. Up to 80% of all UTI’s are suffered by women and about 50% of all women will experience a UTI at least once in their lifetime. And if these statistics weren’t shocking enough, 20-30% of women will experience recurrent UTI’s!!!
UTI’s are not gender or age specific, anyone at any age can fall victim to their nasty symptoms. So, if you think you may be dealing with the nasty effects of a UTI, these are some of the more common symptoms you may be experiencing depending on where in the urinary tract the infection is:
- You have a strong and persistent urge to urinate
- It burns when you urinate
- You need to urinate frequently, and when you do, you only pass small amounts
- Your urine is cloudy or coloured red, bright pink or brown
- Your urine smells funky or strong
- If you are a woman, you may experience a pain in the centre of your pelvis
There are a few reasons that make us more susceptible to a UTI and taking note of them will go a long way to help us manage the incidence of these infections. For women, the burden of responsibility is greater and they need to make sure that their personal hygiene is good. Always wipe from front to back after urinating and also always void the bladder after intercourse. It’s important to wear clean cotton panties as these allow the body to breathe. Similarly tight fitting pants and underwear can exacerbate the problem. For us ladies, hormones are not always our friends and UTI’s are most common around menstruation and menopause (we just can’t win!) Some women react to certain contraceptives so it’s important to always use lubrication and to find what contraceptive method works for you. Being pregnant also increases the chances of UTI’s (seriously!?)
Most commonly, UTI’s are treated using antibiotics but minor, uncomplicated UTI’s can be treated by a range of home remedies and supplements.
- Stay hydrated - it might feel odd to drink more water when you are already running to the loo more often, but drinking enough water is one of the easiest ways of preventing and treating a UTI. By drinking more water, urine is diluted and passes through the urinary system faster, making it difficult for bacteria to colonize the walls of the urinary organs and cause an infection.
- Empty your bladder - as soon as the urge strikes! This helps to reduce the time bacteria stays in the bladder and reduces the potential for bacteria colonize to urinary tract.
- Cranberry - in juice or tablet form has been found to help clear infections and speed up recovery time. It has antioxidants that have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. African Cranberry Concentrate has no preservatives, no sweeteners and is caffeine free. I usually prescribe this as a daily maintenance supplement as well as an acute treatment. Flordis Ellura capsules provide 36mg of proanthocyanidins, the dosage shown to prevent bacteria attaching to the urinary tract walls. These are derived from concentrated cranberry juice powder. Ellura has clinically been shown to reduce the frequency of recurrent UTI’s
- Don’t forget your probiotics - especially lactobacilli sp. These help lower the pH of the urine, making conditions less favorable for bacteria. Metagenics UltraFlora Women’s is a 50:50 blend of lactobacillus rhamnosus and lactobacillus reuteri . These probiotics help maintain a healthy vaginal microflora and support the entire urinary tract. Vibrant Health U.T. Biotic provides 25billion probiotics from 7 strains that have been singled out as been helpful in maintaining urogenital health. This wonderful product also provides a hefty dose of cranberry extract as well. A double win in my opinion!
- Take a dose of D-Mannose - this is a simple sugar that is thought to block certain bacteria from growing in the urinary system. When you consume D-Mannose it is eliminated through the kidneys into the urinary tract where it attaches to the offending bacteria that may be there. As a result the bacteria cannot attach to the cells of the urinary tract walls and can’t cause infection. NOW D-Mannose 500mg has been one of my favourite products in the treatment and prevention of UTI’s. Another firm favourite is Vibrant Health U.T. Vibrance. It’s labeled as a “crisis intervention” formula and this tag rings particularly true! It is a blend of D-Mannose and other botanicals that stop the adherence of bacteria. They work together to eradicate E. Coli from the urinary tract and help prevent burning, painful urination.
The best advice I can give for the treatment of UTI’s is to prevent them from happening in the first place! Drink lots of water and follow the simple steps discussed. If you are worried about your urinary health, don’t suffer the burn and discomfort in silence, drop in and chat [031-2665397] with us!
Yours in health,
Dr Monique Olivier