The urinary tract is made up of several parts, all of which can become infected. Infections in the bladder is most common and this condition is known as cystitis. There is also urethritis, which is infection of the ureters or the tubes connecting the bladder to the kidneys. More serious is when infections move up into the kidneys, which we do not want to damage.

So what causes urinary infections?

Approximately 85% of Urinary tract infections (UTI’s) are caused by the bacteria e coli. Infections are generally more common in women for biological reasons as the opening to the urinary tract is in close proximity to the vagina and anus. Cross contamination of bacteria can occur from both these areas. It is possible for men to get UTI’s but it is less common.

What are the signs of a bladder infection?
  • Constant urge to urinate
  • Pain and burning on urination; urine often passed in small quantities
  • ‍Feeling of pressure on the bladder
  • Urine may have a strong smell or be slightly cloudy

You should go straight to your doctor if you get any combination of the following.  They can potentially indicate a kidney infection:

  • Severe back pain (around and just above hips)
  • Pink urine indicating blood in the urine – could also indicate presence of kidney stones
  • Fever
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • ‍Chills
  • Persisting infection not getting any better after 24 hours
  • Sudden severe onset of infection
  • Extra care should be taken if you are over 65 or pregnant
Are some people more susceptible to urinary tract infections?
  • Women in general – some women can get UTI’s monthly round their periods
  • Sexually active women
  • Menopausal women – oestrogen has a protective effect on the urinary tract and as levels drop with menopause women can become find they get frequent infections
  • Men can start to get urinary tract infections if the prostate becomes enlarged
What can you do if you have a bladder infection?
  • D mannose is a plant sugar that helps stop e coli from adhering to the walls to the bladder and helps flush them away.  You can buy d mannose over the counter as a supplement.
  • ‍Make sure you drink plenty of water
  • Avoid coffee, tea, fizzy drinks and alcohol
  • 1 tsp of baking soda (Bicarbonate of soda)  or bicarbonate of soda can help ease the stinging pain of a bladder infection, but it will not help get rid of the infection
  • Cranberry tablets or unsweetened juice can help with e coli similar to d mannose
  • Use a hot water bottle to ease the pain
  • There are several herbs that your naturopath/herbalist can help with for a bladder infection such as cornsilk, golden seal, andrographis and marshmallow

Always see a doctor if symptoms don’t improve or get worse after 24 hours.  A doctor can prescribe antibiotics.

When should you see a naturopath?

If you keep getting urinary tract infections you might like to look at prevention strategies or a naturopath can help you get to the root cause.  For example:

  • Bacterial load from the gut is causing frequent cross contamination a naturopath can help improve bacterial balance
  •  If hormonal imbalances are driving infections on a monthly basis this can be addressed
  • Women in menopause we can look at hormone balance
  • Working with prostate inflammation can help men with frequent infections