11 Tips for Optimum Bladder Health
Cystitis and Urinary Tract Infection can strike in both males and females, young and old. Every year, millions of adult females will suffer an attack to one degree or another in the United Kingdom. Around 10% of girls will suffer their first attack by the time they are 16 years old. Less prevalent in men, UTI tends to strike in older age and is thought to be related to prostate problems. Prevention is better than cure, so maintaining optimum blader health plays an essential role in the fight against cystitis.
So when Cystitis Strikes, what can you do about it?
Your Doctor will usually prescribe antibiotics as an immediate treatment, while waiting for the results of a urine sample. Which antibiotics are prescribed and for how long depend on whether your condition is Complicated or Uncomplicated and the type of bacteria found in your urine.
Drugs commonly prescribed for Uncomplicated UTIs include:
- Ceftriaxone (Rocephin)
- Cephalexin (Keflex)
- Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
- Fosfomycin (Monurol)
- Levofloxacin (Levaquin)
- Nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin, Macrobid)
- Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra)
A natrual approach when antibiotics are not an option
- Use D-Mannose - D-Mannose is a completely natural way to optimum bladder health. Rather than killing the bacteria causing the infection, D-Mannose will flush them out of your system. See Finding a Treatment for Cystitis for more information on how D-Mannose works
- Avoid acidifying foods - Anyone already suffering with bladder infections may refer to these as trigger foods: food and drinks which can intensify symptoms and the urgency to urinate. Fatty foods, chocolate, alcohol, orange and cranberry products are very acidifying. These foods can significantly increase urine acidity and aid bacterial growth, consequently aggravating the bladder and worsening symptoms. Try substituting acidifying food and drinks with more natural products that have an alkalising effect on the urine.
- Drink Water, normally - Drinking water helps to stabilize urine pH which can reduce the growth rate of gram negative bacteria if urine pH is too acidic. But to really affect most bacterial growth consider making your glass of water more alkaline by adding lemon juice or lemon barley. There are articles suggesting sufferers drink high amounts of water to flush bacteria out. But drinking gallons of water can be counter-productive and can even result in water intoxication. At that point we run the risk of upsetting our electrolyte balance by lowering sodium levels in the blood and causing brain cells to swell; this is a serious condition.
- Avoid Cranberry products completely - Yes, this was mentioned in point two, but because Cranberry is still considered a remedy by many, it needed its own number. Cranberry introduces hippuric acid, and can make symptoms much worse by acidifying the urine in the bladder and encouraging bacterial growth. Claims made for Cranberry juice in relation to UTIs are now frequently discredited by independent trials.
- Take a full body gender free approach to hygiene - Many women have probably seen articles telling them how to wipe the right way! While this is important, it's likely they already know how to do this and it probably isn't the cause of an infection. It's much more important for both men and women to exercise proper hygiene since bacteria can enter the bladder from many different sources. Wash hands in hot water and soap after toilet visits, handling raw meat, touching animals, touching door handles, handling raw foods or touching anything that may be contaminated by bacteria.
- Ensure raw meats are thoroughly cooked to reduce bacterial risk - As many as 1 in 4 chickens on supermarket shelves in the United Kingdom have been found to contain the E.Coli super-bug. "The levels of resistant E.Coli that we have found are worrying." said Mark Holmes of the University of Cambridge. [Source]
- Regularly clean your surroundings - bacteria can grow on any surface, particularly kitchens and bathrooms. Regularly replace products that come in to contact with the body. Toothbrushes, make-up sponges, flannels, etc.
- Sexual hygiene - use appropriate protection around intercourse. And remember that your partner's personal hygiene is just as important as your own.
- Go to the toilet when you need to go - holding on to the point where it becomes painful can damage the bladder further.
- Learn as much as you can about yourself - E.Coli, Bladder infections & Cystitis can occur for many different reasons, some preventable and others manageable. When attacks occur try to establish the cause. Is it normally after sex, a medical operation, have attacks become more frequent with age? Is it after a night of heavy drinking? Try to find a pattern. The more you know about the cause of the infection, the better the chance of prevention. Idenfifying the type of bacteria present in an established infection also helps with treatment. Ask your doctor which bacteria are present or consider paying for a private urine culture test.
- Talk about your problems - talking to trusted friends and family can help on many levels. 50% of all women and 25% of all men will contract some type of urine infection at least once in their lifetime. It's not something to be embarrassed by. It is very likely others in your social group or family are also suffering in silence.