Women’s Health: Urinary Tract Infection
Posted on Oct 13, 2020
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are caused by bacteria (usually E. coli) in the urinary tract or bladder. These infections can be painful and cause symptoms like burning while urinating, urgency and increased frequency urinating, low-grade fever, and even low back pain.
From teens through middle age, the most common causes are overeating sweets, which causes an overgrowth of bacteria, and sexual transmission. In peri-menopausal women, I often hear “I have an urgency to urinate like I have a UTI, but my urine tests don’t show any evidence of infection.” In this case, the cause is due to the thinning of the estrogen-dependent lining of the outer urethra.
In Western medicine, UTIs are treated with a course of antibiotics. If someone suffers from recurring UTIs, the frequent use to antibiotics can cause an imbalance in intestinal gut flora and issues with digestion. Most of the time antibiotics can be avoided by using natural methods to treat UTIs. If symptoms get worse then a course of antibiotics may be necessary.
In Chinese Medicine most UTIs are considered to be damp-heat in the lower jiao (bladder). To treat damp-heat in the lower jiao we choose food, acupuncture points, and herbs that clear heat, dispel dampness, and promote urination. Acute cases often respond very quickly to acupuncture and herbs, sometimes in just a few days or even sooner. It is important for both sexual partners to get treatment at the same time to prevent passing the UTI back and forth. A man’s urethra is longer than a woman’s, so men can be carriers of infection long before they feel any symptoms.
During treatment for UTIs, it is important to:
- Avoid sweets completely.
- Eat a protein source at every meal to make the urine more acidic and less hospitable to bacteria.
- Wear cotton underwear to ensure that air circulates and prevents a damp environment.
- Abstain from sexual activity. If this is not feasible, both partners should shower before having intercourse to avoid further infiltration of bacteria into the urinary tract.
Prevention through Nutrition
- Staying hydrated flushes water through the kidneys and bladder making it more difficult for bacteria to grow and reproduce.
- Avoid foods that irritate the lining of the bladder such as alcohol, greasy and spicy foods.
- Eat & prepare diuretic and heat clearing foods such as asparagus, cranberry and watermelon. Diuretic foods will also help to flush the kidneys and bladder and clear heat which can ease symptoms associated with having a UTI.
- Consume probiotic foods such as kombucha, yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut. Probiotic rich foods can help boost the immune system to act a preventative against UTI’s. Eating fermented foods during an active infection can aid the body in fighting the infection.
During this phase of a woman’s life, estrogen decreases causing the lining of the outer urethra to thin and the muscles of the pelvic floor to become less resilient. Urine leakage when coughing, sneezing or laughing is very common. Urinary incontinence can start, only to become worse with age.
- Frequently eat seafood high in omega 3 like salmon, sardines, anchovies, mackerel and vegetables high in Vitamin C, like broccoli, brussel sprouts, leafy greens and bell peppers. If your fish and vegetable consumption is not frequent, take daily fish oil and Vitamin C supplements.
- Apply a small dab of estrogen cream to affected area.
- Do daily Kegel exercises to increase blood flow to the area and help with stress incontinence.
Filed in Current Health News
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