Now that the cold winter days are approaching, the chance of catching a Urinary tract infection will be on the rise as well. Urinary tract infections affect up to half of all women over the course of a lifetime and are responsible for eight million doctor visits each year.
The reason why women are more prone to urinary tract infections (UTI) than men is partly because their urethras are shorter. Adult men, on the other hand, have a bacterial growth inhibitor injected directly into their urinary system by their prostate glands.
More than 90% of all UTIs are caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), which is normally found in your intestinal tract, but problems only arise when this ordinary bacterium is present in high numbers in places where it shouldn’t be—like your urinary system. Note that this is NOT the same E. coli associated with killer outbreaks in unsanitary food processing plants—it is a mutant variety, probably created by antibiotic overuse in our country. This E. coli is typically a normal part of your gut flora and typically is accidentally transferred to the bladder through lapses in optimal hygiene.
When normal E. coli gets into your urinary tract and multiplies, you experience the usual signs and symptoms of a UTI:
- Burning with urination
- Frequent urges to urinate
- Lower abdominal pain or aching
- Cloudy urine
- Blood in your urine (sometimes, but not always)
Remember to always seek a doctor to get the proper diagnosis. If you develop lower back pain with fever, this could be a sign of a kidney infection, which is a serious condition requiring medical care. Seek your doctor immediately if the symptoms do not clear up and you develop kidney pain.
Your doctor will commonly prescribe antibiotics to fight your Urinary tract infection. If this is the case, we strongly recommend you take a high quality probiotic along with the antibiotic treatment in order to restore and support your gut flora.
NATURAL TREATMENTS FOR YOUR BLADDER TROUBLES
The homeopathic approach is used by many as a first choice of treatment. To be most effective, it should be combined with natural measures such as increasing your fluid intake. If your problems with UTIs are chronic, seek professional homeopathic support. A well-chosen Constitutional remedy will address the issue at a deep level because it incorporates not only your physical, but also your emotional and mental states. Remember, how you feel and how you think, will all affect you at the physical level. Over time, symptoms should show signs of being less severe and shorter-lived, and the gaps in between infections should get progressively longer.The following homeopathic remedies can be helpful in easing a recent, mild to moderate bladder infection. Here too, if the symptoms do not match or if you are unsure it is best to consult with your homeopath.
Cantharis- is the most widely used natural medicine for urinary tract infections. It covers the typical symptoms of frequency and urgency, with a cutting or burning pain, and the urine may even feel hot as it comes out-typically drop by drop. It may have a little blood in it. The pain may be excruciating. Don’t panic yet-try Cantharis, but if your natural remedies don’t work and you have a substantial amount of blood, go see your doctor.
Arsenicum album- also treats burning pains, but is more suitable for pain that is more distressing during the night and early hours of the morning. Burning sensations feel temporarily eased by contact with warmth, for example, when taking a warm bath or holding a warm compress to the sore area. Symptoms also include shivering and feeling chilly.
Pulsatilla- works well if pain, discomfort, and the urge to urinate are more distressing when lying down at night. This remedy is especially helpful if a UTI results from being in chilly, damp surroundings, and if ignoring the urge to urinate for even a short time brings on slight urinary incontinence. Although you may feel chilly, warmth in any form makes discomfort and distress worse. Symptoms also include feeling weepy when ill, with a noticeable need for sympathy and attention.
Staphysagria- should be taken if symptoms develop after sexual intercourse, or after being catheterized for surgery. There may be an inability to empty the bladder fully, and urine is likely to look concentrated and dark in colour. There are also strong stinging sensations after passing water.
TIP: WEAR LOOSE CLOTHING
Avoid wearing clothing and underwear that hugs the body too tightly, such as tights, jeans, and leggings, and underwear made from synthetic materials such as nylon. They do not allow for good ventilation around the genital area.
You’ve probably heard that drinking cranberry juice can be helpful in supporting a healthy urinary tract. Cranberry juice helps treat and prevent urinary tract infections because it contains a plant nutrient that makes the infection slide right on out instead of sticking to the walls of your urinary tract. It’s really sour, though. Sugar-sweetened commercial cranberry juice is not a great idea because sugar weakens your immune system. Some people can handle unsweetened cranberry juice from the health food store. Mixing it with a sweet juice like organic apple juice can make it go down easier. If you still don’t care for this mixture, cranberry capsules are a good option.
Your diet should also be taken a look at when suffering from a bladder infection. Eat natural diuretics such as watermelon, parsley, and celery, or make a juice out of these foods. Ginger and garlic, which can be added to vegetable broths, have powerful antimicrobial effects. Restrict your sugar intake while battling an infection, as it can feed bacteria. Spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol can aggravate symptoms and should be avoided. Drink plenty of water, 2-3 liters a day, to increase your urinary output.
TIP: USE A CASTOR OIL PACK
Castor oil packs can be used to treat UTIs with associated bladder cramping or pelvic discomfort. Apply castor oil directly to the skin and cover with a soft piece of flannel and apply heat (such as hot water bottle) for 30-60 minutes. The anti-inflammatory action of castor oil acts as pain relief.
If you get frequent urinary tract infections, consider the following:
- Take a cranberry supplement regularly.
- Use a high potency probiotic.
- Wipe front to back (women), wear cotton underwear.
- Be sure to drink plenty of water to keep your bladder flushed out.
- Eat foods that will create a more alkaline urine.
I hope that you found these hints helpful and wish you a great and of course, healthy winter. If you have any questions or comments about this article, homeopathy, or any other of our offered services and products, please contact us at (519) 603-0505 and we will be happy to talk to you. Or, to book an appointment, please call us or go online to www.kwhomeopathicmedicine.com
Irene Schwens, DHMHS, C.Tran.