Women and Chronic Bladder Infections

Some advice on the causes and possible cures for bladder infections.

by Linda B. • More.com Member { View Profile }

Infections of the Urinary Tract (UTI) are extremely common. UTIs are the second most common reason for physician visits, and account for about 7 million doctor visits each year. Symptoms of bladder infection include a frequent urge to urinate and painful at times, burning feeling in the area of the bladder or urethra during urination. It is not unusual to feel tired with pelvic or low back pain. Often women feel an uncomfortable pressure above the pubic bone. It is common for a person with a urinary infection to complain that despite the urge to urinate, only a small amount of urine is passed. The urine itself may look milky or cloudy, even reddish if blood is present.

Normally, a UTI does not cause fever if it is in the bladder or urethra, but presented with a fever may mean that the infection has reached the kidneys. This can be very dangerous when it reaches the kidneys and needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

UTIs usually occur when bacteria enter the opening of the urethra and multiply in the urinary tract. The urinary tract includes the two kidneys, ureters (tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder), the bladder itself, and the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the urethral opening). A UTI limited to the urethra is called urethritis. If the infection migrates to the bladder it is called cystitis. Women are more prone to UTIs than men, usually because they have shorter urethras, which therefore pass bacteria into the urinary tract more easily. Statistics show that one in every five women will develop a UTI during her lifetime. Although the estimated prevalence of UTI varies, all reports indicate a staggering number of female UTI sufferers: 5 to 10 million women. Overall 40 percent of women will have at least one UTI over their lifetime. After having one UTI, up to 20 percent will suffer from recurrent infections.

Also with women in post-menopause, estrogen and testosterone can affect immune factors in vaginal wall causing frequent bladder infections if levels drop to low. When estrogen or testosterone decrease, immune response declines as well, which allow bacteria to grow decreasing certain lactobacilli strains. This will affect the tissue or lining in the vagina causing atrophy, which in turn induces chronic urinary tract infections. Inserting 1/2 to 1 gram estrogen cream vaginally at night will resolve this problem and prevent UTI infections.

Bacteria causing infections in the bladder have a chemical attraction to bind to a certain sugar called D-mannose. D mannose is a monosaccharide sugar found naturally in fruits (cranberries, blueberries, peaches, oranges), which in reality is similar to glucose except in its three-dimensional form. There are reports on its therapeutic effect in the urinary tract where cranberry juice (containing much D-mannose) has the best beneficial action in urinary tract infections. It has been shown that during intestinal infections, the D-mannose in fruit competes with the mannose receptors on the cells in the gut and vaginal epithelial cells. This provides competition, which would allow the infectious bacteria to leave their binding sites and attach to the D-mannose in fruit and thereby, have a beneficial effect in reducing the infection or symptoms. Although D-mannose is found in cranberries naturally, they do not contain enough of this glycol-sugar to have the same effect. For this to work against the bacteria adhering to your bladder cell wall, you will need to take it in either powder or pill form to get the proper amount. Also, the cranberry extract contains proanthocyanidins that also prevent E. coli from adhering to the urethra or bladder wall. Cranberry extract also has a potent immune-stimulating effect.

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