Ask the Doc: Bladder Infections

Ask the Doc: Bladder Infections

I’m prone to bladder infections. What do you recommend? S.M.

Dear S.M.:

Since the distance from the skin to the bladder is quite short in females bacteria enter the bladder regularly. Under normal circumstances they are washed back out before they can attach themselves to the bladder wall and cause an infection. If an individual does not urinate frequently, which typically occurs when traveling or when attending a function where the restrooms appear to be unsanitary, an infection commonly results. Infections are also more likely to occur following intercourse, when bacteria can be pushed toward the bladder opening, or after a “bubble bath” during which bacteria can easily be carried into the bladder.

Preventive measures include drinking enough water to keep your urine pale (when the urine is not concentrated bacteria find it more difficult to reach the bladder wall), emptying every 2 to 3 hours while awake, emptying after sexual activity, avoiding bubble baths, getting out of a wet swimsuit promptly after swimming, and by wiping front to back carrying bacteria away from rather than toward the bladder opening.

During an infection the lining of the bladder becomes irritated. This makes it more “sticky” and easier for bacteria to attach, leading to another infection. Cranberries contain a substance that coats the bladder lining and lessens the likelihood of a second infection. Cranberry juice or cranberry extract capsules can be used.

Over 90 % of bladder infections are caused by a bacterium called E-coli. A simple sugar, D-Mannose is often effective in clearing them. D-mannose attaches to E-coli bacteria making it impossible for them to attach to the bladder wall. One-half teaspoon every 3 – 4 hours for five days is usually adequate to clear an infection. One-half teaspoon daily can be quite effective in preventing bladder infections, as can taking ½ teaspoon before or after sexual activity. D-mannose has no known side effects.

Uva ursi, or bearberry, is also quite effective in clearing bladder infections. Two capsules are taken twice daily for seven to ten days. Since it is most effective when the urine is alkaline, acidic foods should be avoided during treatment. Uva ursi should not be taken for prevention, as continuous use may result in liver toxicity. It is not approved for use in children or in pregnancy. It should be used with caution if a history of hypertension or liver disease is present.

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