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URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS (UTIS)

AUGUST 19, 2018 / Posted by Dr. Anju Sodhi

So many of us have experienced the pelvic discomfort, the high frequency of urgency to urinate, the burning sensation of unproductive urination. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) plague men and women, though the latter tends to suffer more often than the former. Over 90% of UTI diagnoses occur in females. The prevention and treatment of UTIs is imperative to spare the kidneys damage, balance the microbiome of the urinary tract, and lead normal lives free of pain.

Most of the time, UTIs So many of us have experienced the pelvic discomfort, the high frequency of urgency to urinate, the burning sensation of unproductive urination. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) plague men and women, though the latter tends to suffer more often than the former. Over 90% of UTI diagnoses occur in females[1]. The prevention and treatment of UTIs is imperative to spare the kidneys damage, balance the microbiome of the urinary tract, and lead normal lives free of pain.

Most of the time, UTIs occur due to the introduction of Escherichia coli into the urinary tract. This may be transmitted by person-to-person direct contact or from the individuals anus to urethra[2]. UTIs that spread to the bladder or kidney may be caused by other invasive microbes and are usually contracted in medical settings such as inserting catheters.

One of the reasons women contract UTIs much more often than men is that women do not have a lot of space between the anus and the urethral opening. The normally present  E. coli in the fecal matter can easily migrate to the urethra if proper hygiene is not taken. Another reason is vaginal dryness. Vaginal dryness occurs during perimenopause and menopause due to the fluctuation of hormones. The vagina is very receptive to these hormonal fluctuations. As estrogen depletes, the ability to keep the vagina moistened lessens, sometimes too fast. Moisture from surrounding tissue are furthered dehydrated as the vagina seeks lubrication  This dryness effects the entire genitourinary region. When the urethral opening and urethra are slightly dried out, E.coli and other microorganisms are not flushed out as easily during urination. The dryness exposes a better matrix for the bacteria to latch onto and procreate. Luckily, simple and powerfully effective natural treatments can prevent and treat UTI.

Personal hygiene is a must. Whether you are male or female, ensuring proper cleansing around the urethra and anus is key. For females, after urination, ensure you urinate to completion and wipe away excess urine. During a shower, use warm water and body soap on a sponge or loofah to cleanse the area. Clean from front to back, minimizing the exposure of bacteria to the urethra. After exercising or getting sweaty, change undergarments to mitigate the amount of time you are exposing the genitalia to a damp environment. Use cotton undergarments as they absorb excess moisture form the genital region.

Bacteria in any infection consume excess sugars in their environment. If you are someone who experiences frequent UTIs, consider eating less sugar. This does not mean limit your fruit intake, but to limit excess processed sugars. Try adding less sugar to your morning coffee or using honey instead. Reduce the amount of acidic food in the diet, such as red meat, vinegars, soda, coffee, and tomatoes. This helps the body make more alkaline urine, which not only flushes harmful, non-resident bacteria out of the body, but also makes the environment inhospitable for them. Ensure adequate water intake to have regular urinations.

Herbs can also help reduce the occurrence of UTI. Cranberry extracts have been known about for ages. Small amounts of daily cranberry extract can modulate the pH and lubrication of the urethra for either sex[3,4]Achyranthes aspera is an herb that promotes kidney function, ensuring the proper fluid metabolism and further protecting the kidney from microbial attack[5]. Equisetum arvense and Tribulus terrestris are mild diuretics, opening urinary channels and also act as mild antimicrobials[6],[7]. Holy Basil, or Ocimum sanctum, has been long used as a urinary antibacterial agent and helps with neutralizing the acidity in the body[7].

Lastly, keeping a healthy gut and body biome assist in combating infections of all sorts. Take a daily probiotic, eat fermented foods, and remember to moderate acidic food intake. Again, ensuring proper intake will nurture a healthy body biome.

UTIs are painful, time-consuming, and can be quite embarrassing. Those who suffer from frequent UTIs may feel hopeless to control them. Using these simple techniques and herbs, urinary health can be achieved for men, children, and women.

References

  • [1] Sood A, Penna FJ, Eleswarapu S, et al. Incidence, admission rates, and economic burden of pediatric emergency department visits for urinary tract infection: Data from the nationwide emergency department sample, 2006 to 2011. J Pediatr Urol. 2015;11(5):246.e1-246.e8. doi:10.1016/j.jpurol.2014.10.005.
  • [2] Foxman B. Urinary tract infection syndromes. Occurrence, recurrence, bacteriology, risk factors, and disease burden. Infect Dis Clin North Am. 2014;28(1):1-13. doi:10.1016/j.idc.2013.09.003.
  • [3] McMurdo MET, Argo I, Phillips G, Daly F, Davey P. Cranberry or trimethoprim for the prevention of recurrent urinary tract infections? A randomized controlled trial in older women. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2008;63(2):389-395. doi:10.1093/jac/dkn489.
  • [4] Hess MJ, Hess PE, Sullivan MR, et al. Cranberries vs Antibiotics to Prevent Urinary Tract Infections. Arch Intern Med. 2011;46(9):0-2. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.777.
  • [5] Jayakumar T, Sridhar MP, Bharathprasad TR, Ilayaraja M, Govindasamy S, Balasubramanian MP. Experimental Studies of Ac h y ranth e s aspera (L) Preventing Nephrotoxicity Induced by Lead in Albino Rats. J Heal Sci. 2009;55(5):701-708. doi:10.1248/jhs.55.701.
  • [6] Carneiro DM, Freire RC, Honório TC de D, et al. Randomized, Double-Blind Clinical Trial to Assess the Acute Diuretic Effect of Equisetum arvense (Field Horsetail) in Healthy Volunteers. Evidence-Based Complement Altern Med. 2014;2014:1-8. doi:10.1155/2014/760683.
  • [7] Singh Sandhu N, Kaur S, Chopra D. Equietum arvense: Pharacology and Photochemistry – A Review. Asian J Pharm Clin Res. 2010;3(3):146-150. http://www.ajpcr.com/Vol3Issue3/3.pdf.

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