Over 20 percent of women experience cystitis, or inflammation of the bladder, at least once a year. Cystitis usually leads to a urinary tract infection (UTI). If not treated early and properly, a UTI may become chronic and spread to the kidneys. That is very serious, so here are some suggestions for early treatment and even prevention.
What Causes Cystitis/UTIs?
Cystitis is almost always caused by fecal bacteria, usually E. coli, that migrate up the urethra and into the bladder. There, they attach to the cells of the bladder, multiply, and cause severe pain with urination as well as a constant urge to urinate.
UTIs are frequently associated with sex. However, cystitis is not a sexually transmitted infection; sexual activity simply facilitates migration of bacteria into the bladder.
Considering that E. coli and other bacteria almost routinely migrate into the bladder, it's a wonder that we are not perpetually suffering with cystitis or UTIs.
We don't because the overwhelming majority of bacteria are washed out with urination. For an infection to occur, bacteria must stay in the bladder by anchoring themselves to the bladder's cells, much as oysters and sea urchins anchor to rocks and coral.
Preventing Urinary Tract Infections with Cranberry
It is a common recommendation that to prevent UTIs, you should drink copious amounts of water to increase urine flow, as well as cranberry juice. The thinking is that cranberry juice makes urine more acidic and less hospitable for the bacteria.
The surfaces of fecal bacteria are dotted with special substances called "lectins," which form strong bonds with mannose, galactose, and other sugar residues on the surfaces of cells lining the bladder.
Cranberry juice contains substantial quantities of alpha D mannopyranoside, a derivative of the sugar D-mannose. This attaches to the lectins of the bacteria, thus preventing their attachment to the bladder wall.
In one test-tube study, urine from either mice or humans given cranberry juice acted as a deterrent to the attachment of bacteria to bladder cells. Another study found that 16 ounces of cranberry juice per day eliminated cystitis in 73 percent of 44 women and 16 men.
Other Steps to Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
- Drink plenty of water, three liters or more per day. Flush out those bugs.
- Urinate after sex as soon as possible.
- Drink eight ounces of cranberry juice a few hours before and after sex or any other activity that manipulates or puts pressure in the pelvic area, such as riding a bicycle. Ocean Spray provides both the pure juice and the cocktail, which is one-third juice. I recommend the pure juice. At the first hint of burning urination, drink eight ounces of cranberry juice, and repeat in three to four hours.
If you have a problem recurrent UTIs, you should consider using a quality probiotic supplement and/or lactic acid yeast.
Many doctors fail to realize that the human body is not just a bunch of separate organs and systems. Every cell in the body is interconnected and communicates through the nervous, circulatory, and lymphatic system.
More to the point, infectious bacteria can easily migrate from the lower bowel to the urinary tract or vaginal area by way of the lymphatic system. All types of toxic substances move throughout the body.
The best method for maintaining a healthy colon includes regular bowel movements and good intestinal flora. Many of the strong antibiotics given for recurrent bladder infections kill off good bacteria in the colon allowing harmful, more virulent strains to dominate the area.
Urinary tract infections can't be treated solely by working with the lower bowel, but it is one area that must be healthy if you want to avoid recurrent problems.