Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are fairly common and most prevalent in females. The reason they are more common in females is basically because of the difference in anatomy between males and females. A bacterial organism is the most common culprit in UTIs; and a majority of the time the bacteria gets transferred from the lower bowel and into the opening of the urethra (this happens easier in females due to the proximity between the two). The bacteria then typically travels up the urethra and into the bladder. In severe cases, the bacteria can migrate up into the kidney(s) and cause an infection there as well. Some other common causes include: sexual intercourse and yeast infections. There are other factors that increase the likelihood of UTIs, but they are rare (at least from what I see). These include: pregnancy, menopause, diabetes, and resisting the urge to urinate. Other factors that I have seen contributing to a UTI or even preventing it from resolving are: a urinary pH (acidity/alkalinity) that is too high or low, not drinking enough clean water, excessive sugar consumption, intestinal infections, and/or a weakened immune system.

Most women are probably familiar with the symptoms of a UTI regardless of whether they’ve had one in the past. The most obvious is painful or burning urination. Other possible symptoms include: pressure in the lower pelvis, frequent or urgent need to urinate, needing to urinate at night, and a change in the color (usually cloudy or bloody) or odor of the urine.

The treatment obviously depends on the cause. However, there are some simple ways to get rid of a UTI quickly without actually knowing the cause. Keep in mind however; if there are complicating factors like intestinal infections, a weakened immune system, etc., it may not be so simple.

We are all familiar with cranberry juice as the touted cure-all for UTIs. Personally, I am not a fan of drinking large quantities of cranberry juice to help this condition. The reason is simply because of the amount of sugar in the juice. Although it may be natural fruit sugar (fructose), excessive amounts (usually necessary with a UTI) will compromise the bacterial balance in the intestinal tract and possibly weaken the immune as a result. Also, this compromise will allow for more pathogenic bacteria to grow in the gut, while the “good” bacteria (acidophilus, bifidus, etc.) diminish. Getting a cranberry juice concentrate and adding water is better although it may pose the same problem. Cranberry capsules or tablets are usually fine, because they don’t contain the fructose.

The active ingredient in cranberry juice that helps abate or eliminate UTIs is a simple sugar known as D-mannose. Although D-Mannose is a sugar, is does not act like the fructose in cranberry juice. D-mannose acts to essentially line the bladder and urethra, not allowing the bacteria to adhere to lining. As a result, the bacteria cannot gain a foothold and they are voided during urination.

Other natural treatments that may be necessary include specific botanicals that help combat bacterial (or other) infections, immune system boosters, probiotics, and substances that help raise or lower the pH of the urine. Also consider nutrients to help fortify the integrity of the epithelial cells that line urinary tract; such as vitamins A and C and nutrients required for collagen formation.

Generally speaking, UTIs can be overcome fairly easily. But if you get recurrent UTIs, you should probably look into the cause because you are most likely missing something critical. Lastly, if you get recurrent UTIs due to intercourse and treatments seem to fail, it may be prudent to have your partner checked.

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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