What is Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?
Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s) are a serious health problem affecting millions of people every year. It is a common infection and occurs when bacteria enter the opening of the urethra due to various causes. From there they travel up the urinary tract and multiply. Women contract more bladder infections than men. Although doctors are unsure why, they believe it is due to the shorter length of the urethra. Although bladder infections aren’t serious if treated quickly, they can cause damage if left untreated. Some patients experience recurrent or chronic bladder infections.
The body has natural defenses to help prevent bacterial infections; however, sometimes the bacteria grow faster than the body is able to kill it. This is especially true when a patient has a compromised immune system or other chronic medical problems.
Causes for Recurrent or Chronic Bladder Infections
There are numerous causes as to why some patients are more prone to bladder infections. Kidney disorders or bladder problems can cause urine to not drain properly causing a buildup in the bladder. When buildup occurs, it offers a perfect place for bacteria to flourish. Kidney stones or stones in the bladder also increase the risk for chronic bladder infections.
Low levels of estrogen in women and testosterone in men can contribute to an increased number of urinary tract infections. When levels are low, the urinary tract weakens allowing for an increasing number of bladder infections to occur. Many female patients report an increased number of bladder infections after sexual intercourse. This may occur due to the bacteria being pushed into the urethra or if there is slight damage to the urethra, allowing bacteria to thrive.
When diagnosed with a UTI most people are treated with antibiotics. This usually kills the infection effectively. However, it can leave the bladder prone to even more bacterial invasion. Research indicates that 10 to 20 per cent of women return to their doctor with a new bladder infection within 12 months of being treated with an antibiotic. The reason for this may be that these medicines do kill off the “bad” bacteria causing the infection, but they also destroy the “good” bacteria (probiotics) that we all have in our system which we need to fight off infections. Also, anything else that weakens the immune system, such as stress, diabetes, or a poor diet, increases the likelihood of a urinary tract infection.
Helpful hints for prevention of Urinary Tract Infections
- Drink at least 6-8 cups of purified water every day.
- Drink cranberry juice daily. Cranberry juice prevents bacteria from clinging to the linings of the bladder and urethra.
- Natural diuretics that help flush out infection include watermelon, celery, or parsley (fresh or as juices). Eat a diet rich in these vegetables.
- Avoid refined sugar products as they depress the immune system and encourage the growth of bacteria.
- Also, some food allergies can cause recurring bladder infections. Common allergies include cow’s milk, citrus fruit, and wheat. Elimination or reduction of food allergies may be especially important if you have recurrent or chronic problems.
- Eat one cup (250 ml) unsweetened Greek yogurt or other cultured product or use probiotics every day. These foods help return “good” bacteria to your body.
- If antibiotics are needed, increase all of the above guidelines including probiotics through the course of the therapy.
Discuss your health in depth with your doctor to figure out what else can be done to eliminate these troublesome infections altogether from your life which should be devoted to living it the way you want to and not be bogged down with these constant health frustrations.
Are you suffering from Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)? Please call us and set up an appointment with our integrative physician.
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