If you’ve ever suffered with a UTI, you know and dread the feeling. The ache below your belly, maybe back pain too, and the unmistakable feeling of needing to pee this second and again in another few minutes–all being torture because it burns like crazy. And sex? Forget it.
There’s no mistaking a urinary tract infection (UTI, a.k.a. cystitis). Half of all women will get one at some point in her life.
The cause? In 90% of cases it’s a bacterium called Escherichia coli (E. coli.), which escapes the bowel.
Certain conditions increase your risk of E. coli running amok. Including: diabetes, pregnancy, a number of partners (or lots of sex), antibiotics, birth control pills, or poor hygiene.
Although most UTI’s are not serious, the pain can drive you to your doctor fast, where you are likely handed a prescription for an antibiotic, standard medical treatment.
Antibiotics can work, but they also kill off beneficial flora, causing other problems, including yeast infections and worse – antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as Clostridium difficle, a particularly nasty bug that can land you in the hospital with unrelenting diarrhea.
C. difficile releases a toxin that can damage the intestines. A client of mine recently phoned me after just such a digestive nightmare sent her to the hospital. Antibiotics for a UTI lead to her C. difficile infection. It took months to recover.
Antibiotics rarely clear UTI’s for good. Fortunately there are effective natural options. Be sure to check in with your doctor when trying out alternatives.
The most powerful urinary tract infection treatment is D-mannose, a fruit sugar. If E. coli is the cause, D-mannose can wipe it out in a day or two. D-mannose keeps E. coli from sticking to bladder walls; bugs are washed away with each trip to the toilet.
D-Mannose is effective when you’re dealing with E. coli, says Jonathan Wright, MD, a doctor who specializes in non-drug therapies. He recommends ½ -1 tsp every 3 hours, and more frequently if necessary. You can take a daily preventive dose.
If your symptoms don’t abate within 24 hours, call your doctor. Around 10% of UTI’s are from bacteria other than E. coli, in which case D-mannose doesn’t work.
Many women reach for cranberry juice when they feel a bladder infection coming on. Unfortunately juices are full of sugar, which feed bad bacteria and yeast. Instead, consider cranberry extract, a concentrated preparation in capsule form. Two, 500 mg capsules deliver the same dose of infection-fighting anthocyanins as seven 8 oz glasses of cranberry juice, and no sugar.
Probiotics, in particular those in the lactobacilli family, are a researched preventive. Taking probiotics or enjoying fermented foods such as sauerkraut or yogurt, regularly feeds beneficial bacteria that fight infections in the gut and urinary tract.
- Drink water until your urine is pale.
- When you need to pee, go. Don’t wait.
- Take vitamin C.
- Eat plenty of antioxidant-rich veggies.
- Drink herb tea blends with uva ursi.
- Cut the sugar, wheat, corn and other potential allergens.
- Take fish oil or cod liver oil to reduce inflammation.
- After elimination, always wipe front to back.
- Sit out the next hot tub party.
UTI’s are a pain. Fortunately there are ways to prevent and even treat them that don’t cause harm. Be sure you work with your doctor.
Linda L. Prout, MS, is a nutritionist, speaker, and author of Live in the Balance, The Ground-Breaking East-West Nutrition Program. She has been a nutrition consultant for more than 25 years including at the Claremont Resort and Spa in Berkeley, CA and the Six Senses Spa in Turkey. Her East-West nutrition philosophy influences her nutrition plans and presentations for individuals and organizations around the world via email and Skype. www.lindaprout.com
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