Women's Wellness With the Natural Nurse

Urinary tract infections (UTIs)—many people are unfortunate enough to understand the symptoms personally, since they have all experienced it themselves!
By Ellen Kamhi PHD, RN, AHN-BC

UTI Symptoms
Symptoms can vary depending upon the severity of the infection and the strength of the individual's immune system, and may include painful urination, burning, tenderness, dull aches, chills, fever, lower back pain, and nausea. The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reports that the incidence of UTIs increases after menopause, probably due to estrogen depletion, bladder or uterine prolapse, and the increased use of pharmaceutical drugs. Fewer men fall victim to UTIs, but they experience many of the same symptoms.

Cause

Under normal conditions, a thin film of urine remains in the bladder after urination, and bacteria are removed by organic acids produced by the mucosal lining. If there is any kind of interference in this mechanism, such as an infection, stress, or holding urine too long, a urinary tract infection can result.

Types of UTIs

There are two general types of UTIs: Lower UTI in the bladder and urethra (most common) and the more serious Upper UTI which effects the ureters and the kidneys.

Treatment Goals

One treatment goal is to stop the progression of infection from the lower to the upper areas. In a severe infection, antibiotics are necessary to avoid a more serious kidney infection, although antibiotics can cause adverse effects, including a secondary yeast infection, as well as repeated UTIs due to the development of resistant strains of bacteria.

Lifestyle Choices to Decrease UTIs

There are many lifestyle choices that can help you avoid getting a UTI.

• don't hold urine in—go to the bathroom as soon as you feel an urge

• use toilet paper from front to back

• wash hands before leaving a bathroom—bacteria contaminates bathroom fixtures

• avoid irritating the area with highly perfumed products

• wear loose cotton underwear

• perform the Kegel exercise for the pelvic floor every day
 

The Kegel exercise keeps the pelvic floor muscles toned, increases circulation, improves lymphatic flow, and helps to deter the development of prolapsed bladder.

Natural Therapies

Cranbery Studies have proven that cranberry is quite effective in preventing bacteria from adhering to mucous membranes. Cranberry's efficacy was touted in the widely respected Cochrane Database in January 2008. Both the natural fructose found in cranberry and specific proanthocyanadins have been shown to block bacteria from being able to wrap appendages around the edges of the bladder lining. It’s best to use pure cranberry capsules, or unsweetened cranberry juice. Commercial cranberry juice with lots of sugar or, worse yet, 'sugar-free' cranberry juice with artificial sweeteners is not recommended to help a UTI!

D-Manose Another helpful supplement is D-mannose, which acts as a 'decoy sugar' and attracts microorganisms away from the bladder lining. Together, D-mannose and cranberry can work as a dynamic duo to support urinary tract wellness. It is important to use enough D-mannose. Many studies focus on the dosage range of 4000 to 5000 mg for best results. However, some products offer only 250 to 1000 mg per dose, which may not be enough to be effective. Nature’s Answer UT offers a combination of D-mannose and cranberry with no added sugars, flavors, or preservatives.

Herbal Support In addition to cranberry and D-mannose, other herbs have been used traditionally in societies around the world to support urinary tract health. These include: Oregon grape root, couch grass, juniper berries, golden seal, uva ursi, garlic, hawthorne, and parsley.

Kegel Exercise Intructions:

To learn to contract the muscle strengthened by the Kegel exercise, attempt to stop your urine flow while using the toilet. Once you have learned to contract the muscle, practice it regularly by contracting and releasing several times, any time you have a spare moment. Sitting or standing positions work equally well.