Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary Tract Infections

 Urinary tract infections can be classified by their location.  Infections of the lower urinary tract include cystitis (inflammation of the bladder), and urethritis (inflammation of the urethra).  Infection and inflammation move easily from the lower urinary tract to the upper due to the continuous mucous membrane shared by the bladder, ureter and kidneys. Once infection reaches the upper urinary tract, it presents as pyelonephritis (inflammation of the kidneys). 

 Women are more susceptible to urinary tract infections due to the shorter length of the female urethra, proximity to the anus, frequent irritation of tissue from sexual intercourse, and fragrances present in bath and beauty products. 

 In men, an enlarged prostate can often result in recurrent urinary tract infections. The hypertrophic prostate leads to retention of urine, and stagnant urine make for an excellent medium for bacteria growth.

 The elderly are particularly susceptible to urinary tract infections due to decreased fluid intake, incomplete voiding of the bladder, and impaired blood supply to the kidneys.

 Common predisposing factors in both men and women include:

  • Incontinence: Constant urinary residue in clothes breeds bacteria;
  • Incomplete emptying;
  • Obstruction of urinary flow;
  • Pregnancy;
  • Scar tissue;
  • Diabetes Mellitus: Vascular impairment of the kidneys is common in diabetics, and glucose in the uria feeds local bacteria;
  • Direct contamination from fecal incontinence;
  • Catheritization.

Cystitis

Bladder wall and urethra become inflamed, red and swollen leading to a reduction in the size of the bladder itself, pain, and possible ulceration of the bladder’s mucosal lining. 

Cystitis - Signs & Symptoms

  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Painful and burning sensations during urination;
  • Feelings of frequency and urgency;
  • Cloudy, smelly urine.

Pyelonephritis

Infection ascends the continuous mucous membrane from ureter to kidney.  In severe cases, inflammation compresses the renal artery and veins, obstructing urine from to the ureter.  If left untreated, this may result in ulcers, abscesses and necrosis of the kidney. 

Treatment includes antibiotics and increasing water intake. 

Pyelonephritis – Signs & Symptoms

  • Pain in the lower abdomen;
  • Dull, aching pain in the low back and flank area;
  • Systemic signs and symptoms, including fever, fatigue, and malaise;

Prevention & Treatment

Proper hygiene and adequate hydration are key measures that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of infection, or its spread later on.  If you suspect you may have a urinary tract infection, it’s important to start treatment as soon as possible; once bladder infections move into the kidneys they become a bigger and more dangerous issue. 

Antimicrobials, probiotics and herbs that specifically target the kidney and bladder are effective ways of fighting off infection, as is the supplementation of d-mannose.  D-mannose, a type of sugar related to glucose, has been shown to prevent certain bacterias from adhering to the walls of the urinary tract and causing infection. 

Chronic, recurring urinary tract infections may be due to food sensitivities. Naturopath Dr. Katarine Holewa can run food sensitivity and allergy panels that will help determine which foods to avoid and prevent recurring flares.

For further information or to schedule an appointment, contact the clinic at 250-590-5221.

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