Cystitis and urinary tract infections

A bladder infection is an inflammation or infection of the bladder or urinary tract.

The symptoms of cystitis

The symptoms of a bladder infection range from lower abdominal pain, more frequent urination, a feeling of urgency to urinate with or without results, incontinence, a sensation of incomplete emptying of the bladder after urination, to pain during urination and blood in the urine. Bacteria that can cause a bladder infection are intestinal bacteria. The bacteria typically reach the bladder through the anus via the vagina and then through the urinary tract. Therefore, hygiene after bowel movements and sexual activity plays a fundamental role. The bacteria can also reach the urinary tract through the intestinal wall. Therefore, intestinal health is very important. Inflammations of the intestines, caused by poor nutrition, intolerances, or allergies, affect the intestinal filter and make it more permeable to bacteria. These bacteria then infect the peritoneum and subsequently the urinary tract.

Some of the causes of cystitis

Urinary tract infections should be taken extremely seriously when they occur regularly, as they can progress to the kidneys and cause serious complications. An anatomical abnormality of the urinary organs can also lead to a reflux of urine and thus to a urinary tract infection. This is particularly common in children. The majority of these urinary tract infections occur in women, as they are anatomically more sensitive and susceptible. Pregnant women and those in menopause are particularly susceptible to bladder infections. This is because the vaginal mucosa becomes thinner in these cases, which is attributed to the decline in estrogen. In susceptible individuals, a weakening of the immune system due to a cold or an emotional crisis can also lead to inflammation of the bladder. Each of us has a weaker organ where disturbances can occur when the immune system is accordingly weakened. Men are also susceptible to bladder infections, but to a much lesser extent. However, the course of the infection is much more complicated in men, and the triggers of the inflammation are thoroughly examined. The use of catheters is often a cause of urinary tract infections as well.

Complications of a bladder infection can include the following:

  • Inflammation of the kidneys (pyelonephritis)
  • Blood poisoning (very rare)
  • Epididymitis in men
  • Scarring of the bladder
  • Unintended termination of pregnancy

The medication therapy for bladder infection includes:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Antispasmodics, which help the bladder to expel urine more effectively and suppress the pain caused by the decrease in muscle tone of the urinary tract due to inflammation.
  • Antibiotics

Bladder infections do not always require the use of medication.

Useful Tips and Strategies

Sporadic bladder infections can be treated as follows:

  • Cranberry is highly effective, especially the Canadian variant, as it contains a high number of active ingredients, both for acute bladder infections and for prevention;
  • Consuming large amounts of fluids, preferably tea made from bearberry leaves, which have anti-inflammatory effects on the urinary tract, combined with diuretic herbal preparations (e.g., birch leaves or horsetail). Bearberry leaves are better taken together with an alkaline powder;
  • Another treatment method is D-Mannose, a sugar that prevents bacteria from adhering to the mucous membranes of the urinary tract;
  • Probiotics, glutamine, lactoferrin, and zinc can help restore a damaged intestinal barrier;
  • It is also important to regularly empty the bowel. Therefore, it is fundamental to eat a healthy diet (fruits, vegetables, fiber). Additionally, consuming psyllium or flaxseeds can aid in bowel transit and have anti-inflammatory properties.

Using lubricant during sexual intercourse can prevent vaginal injuries and thus bacterial infection. This is especially important for menopausal women experiencing vaginal dryness. For individuals prone to bladder infections, it is important not to neglect genital hygiene and to keep the area clean with mild soap, especially after sexual intercourse and bowel movements.

It's also important to drink enough water. This helps to flush out the bladder and urinary tract effectively. During a bladder infection, it's also important to drink a substantial amount of water before going to bed. Although this may lead to nocturia (nighttime urination), it prevents the bacteria from staying in the urinary tract and bladder for too long.

Additionally, various homeopathic remedies exist for treating bladder infections. However, these are carefully chosen based on specific symptoms.

Dr. Roberta Olivotto

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