Treat cystitis naturally
The urinary system is structured in a way that it frees the body of waste products. The urine - which is sterile and usually free of bacteria and viruses and which contains waste products - reaches the bladder through the two ureters from the kidneys. The ureters are about 20 to 25 cm long. The muscles in the urethral walls contract and relax to push urine down from the kidneys.
Causes of a cystitis
Usually, the urine flow and the beneficial bacteria (probiotics) that live in the urinary tract prevent infection from taking over. The prostate in men also produces secretions that slow down bacterial growth. The body's immune system reduces the risk of infection in both men and women. If these defense systems are not available or fail, the bacteria can attach to the bladder wall and cause irritation. Urinary tract infections are a serious health problem that affects millions of people every year.
According to researchers at the medical school of the Washington University (WU) in St. Louis, 90% of all urinary tract infections are caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), a microorganism that lives in the digestive tract. Since E. coli is excreted by the body through bowel movements, E. coli bacteria are located around the anus.
There is only a short distance between the anus and the urethra, through which urine is excreted from the body. So it is relatively easy for E.coli bacteria to reach the urethra. E. coli penetrates the protective layer of the superficial cells that line the bladder and causes the typical symptoms of a urinary tract infection.
Factors that can increase the risk of a urinary tract infection are:
- Wrong wiping from back to front after bowel movements, whereby the E.coli bacteria is transported towards the urethra and can easily penetrate them. Because the urethra is much shorter in women and the opening is closer to the anus than in men, cystitis is much more common in women.
- Insufficient fluid intake, which means that the reduced urine flow can't effectively rinse out the "bad" bacteria.
- Insufficient number of "good" bacteria in the urinary tract, often due to antibiotic therapy, therefore reduced protection.
- Sexual intercourse and delayed urination after sexual intercourse. Women are more prone to urinary tract infections caused by intercourse, hence the term "honeymoon cystitis".
- Diaphragm for contraception exerts pressure on the urethra, spermicides change the pH of the vagina.
- Hormonal changes in the menopause cause the lining of the bladder and urethra to become thinner and therefore weaker, making it more susceptible to infections.
- During pregnancy, the bladder may compress. This means that the urine stays in the bladder for too long, allowing the bacteria to cause irritation and inflammation.
- Riding a bicycle or riding a horse can cause a urinary tract infection due to the pressure on the urethra.
- Urinary catheters that are inserted into the urethra also increase the risk of an E. coli infection.
Symptoms of cystitis
When E. coli bacteria enter the urinary tract, multiply themselves and enter the bladder upwards, the usual signs and symptoms of a urinary tract infection appear with some or all of the following symptoms:
- Painful, burning sensation in the urinary bladder and/or urethra when urinating
- Frequent, urgent need to urinate (often at night)
- Despite the urge to urinate, only a small amount of urine is excreted
- Abdominal pain
- Milky, cloudy or reddish urine
- Putrid, strong urine smell
- Fatigue, lethargy
- Blood in the urine (sometimes, but not always)
- Incontinence (inability to hold back urine)
- Possibly painful intercourse
- Uncomfortable pressure over the pubic bone
- Fever and chills, which may be a sign that the infection has reached the kidneys
- Lower back pain or abdominal pain (sometimes on the side)
If symptoms such as chills, nausea or pain in the middle of the back appear, then this may be a sign that the infection has already reached the kidneys. In this case, you should definitely contact a doctor. Kidney infections require antibiotics to prevent potentially permanent and life-threatening kidney damage.
However, most urinary tract infections can be safely treated without antibiotics - only with D-mannose. One should therefore recognize the early warning signs of a bladder infection and take D-mannose immediately in order to naturally nip the urinary tract infection in the bud.
Treatment of cystitis
Occasionally, irritation caused by a urinary tract infection disappears without specific treatment by drinking lots of water. However, if the infection persists for more than 2 days, it is important to take measures to contain the infection. If the bacteria gets up to the kidney through the urinary tract, it can lead to a kidney infection, which is much more serious.
The most common medical treatment for urinary tract infections is an antibiotic therapy, which usually lasts a week. This is aimed at killing the bacteria that cause the infection and can have many side effects. Antibiotics usually work against a broad spectrum of bacteria and thus also kill health-promoting bacteria in the intestine, vagina and urinary tract. This fact can make the person more susceptible to future infections, not only in the urinary tract, but also in other areas of the body (e.g. yeast infections in women).
If antibiotics are taken excessively, bacteria can also become resistant to these drugs and find a way to survive. This means that antibiotics don't always work against cystitis.
Disadvantages of an antibiotic therapy
Unfortunately, antibiotics with a broad spectrum of activity have the disadvantage that they kill not only the harmful bacteria, but also the health-promoting bacteria in the intestine, vagina and urinary tract.
The relationship between the urinary tract and fungal infections is so common that many doctors prescribe antibiotics along with a vaginal anti-fungal cream. Eliminating helpful bacteria can even lay the foundation for a vicious cycle of urogenital infections and leave a woman vulnerable to recurrent urinary tract infections and fungal infections.
The second possible complication is interstitial cystitis (IZ) or chronic inflammation of the bladder wall. IZ occurs when antibiotics survive the targeted bacteria and their presence ignites the bladder lining. Properly prescribed therapies against urinary tract infections are therefore very short, in order to avoid this problem.
There is a better way. Instead of relying on antibiotics, you can take a holistic approach that strengthens your bladder against invading bacteria. You can also prevent urinary tract infections by implementing some simple lifestyle changes. Learn to recognize the symptoms of a pending infection and take immediate action with natural means.
How can you prevent cystitis?
The body has various mechanisms to reduce the likelihood of a bacterial infection such as E. coli. Urine has a natural pH level that prevents bacterial growth. Normal urination flushes out bacteria that try to rise through the urethra. The inside of the bladder has natural antimicrobial properties, and when bacteria start to multiply, the immune system begins to send out more infection fighting white blood cells.
When the body's barriers fail and bladder infection develops, it is important that you either fight the bladder infection with an effective home or natural remedy, such as D-mannose, or - if you can't avoid it - take an antibiotic. If bacteria, such as E. coli, rise in the urinary tract, it can lead to a serious kidney infection.The most important factor for overall urinary tract health is drinking plenty of pure, fresh water every day (8 - 10 glasses of water). This increases the urine flow, keeps the bladder clean and prevents the overgrowth of harmful bacteria.
- Urinate when you need to urinate - do not resist the urge to go to the bathroom.
- Wipe from front to back to prevent bacteria from entering the urethra.
- Shower instead of taking baths - avoid hot tubs and jacuzzis.
- Clean the genital area before and after sexual intercourse and let your partner do the same.
- Women should avoid hygiene sprays that could irritate the urethra.
- Use only white, unscented toilet paper to avoid possible color reactions, or better still - a bidet.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods that can further irritate the bladder.
- A diet rich in naturally fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kefir nourishes the healthy, beneficial bacteria in the body and protects the urinary tract from intruders.
- Do not eat sugar or other sweeteners. Sugar affects the body's ability to fight infections. The worst sweets are probably those with high fructose, e.g. lemonades.
- Support your immune system by eating an organic, holistic diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Wear cotton underwear or underwear with a cotton crotch. Plastics retain moisture and form a breeding ground for bad bacteria.
- Do not sit in a bubble bath or use soap on sensitive urethral or vaginal tissue. In general, you should take a shower rather than a bath and rinse your genital area with clean water, which is sufficient for cleaning. If you want to take a bath, make sure that there are no detergent residues in the tub.
- If you are going through menopause and suffer from frequent urinary tract infections, discuss the possibility of a vaginal estrogen with your doctor.
- If you suffer from recurrent urinary tract infections, it is worthwhile to investigate the possibility of food allergies. A food diary helps identify problematic foods. Allergic reactions can cause swelling and inflammation in the urethra and bladder, which makes treatment of urinary tract infections considerably more difficult.
- The most reliable test for food allergies is the self-test, which can help identify allergens and end frustration with recurrent urinary tract infections. Start by avoiding the major food groups that cause allergic reactions: dairy, gluten/wheat, soy, corn, eggs and citrus (see Allergy Elimination Diet).
- Manage stress by using a stress reduction technique like meditation or yoga, or simply take about 20 minutes off a day for yourself.