Although anyone can get cystitis, including children, adult women are most commonly affected. Most women get at least one attack in their lifetime. For some women cystitis is a rare event, for others it happens four or five times a year. Cystitis is more common in sexually active women, during pregnancy and during and after the menopause. Common symptoms include an urgent and frequent need to pass urine (often with little or no urine being passed) and a burning sensation and/or a sharp pain when passing urine.
Other possible symptoms include blood in the urine, backache, loin pain, lower abdominal aches and generally feeling unwell.
Cranberry and D-Mannose
Some people report relief from drinking cranberry juice. Cranberries and their juice contain hippuric acid, which is known to prevent bacteria clinging to the bladder wall and helps acidify the urine, which can prevent bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract. Cranberries are also a rich source of D-mannose, a natural antibacterial sugar. D-mannose is also found in peaches, apples, other berries and some plants – and is closely related (in chemical terms) to glucose. Since it is a harmless natural sugar, it is safe for anyone, including young children and pregnant women. It is absorbed in the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract and never reaches the intestines, so it doesn't disrupt the normal bacterial growth in that area.
Although small amounts of D-mannose are made by our bodies, if we consume large amounts, it is promptly excreted into the urine, which is the reason why taking D-mannose helps heal and maintain a healthy bladder. Also due to the speed at which it is excreted in the urine, it can be safely taken by diabetics. Make sure you buy pure D-mannose with no fillers, additives or preservatives. Research has shown that E.coli likes to attach to D-mannose, which our body produces naturally as part of the walls of cells. This D-mannose is naturally present in the bladder and the urinary tract, providing the ideal docking ports for the E.coli. In this way, the E.coli can bury themselves into the bladder wall, making them very difficult to get rid of and can lead to repeated attacks of cystitis.
The theory is that, by providing a richer supply of the mannose in the urine, this could persuade the E.coli to attach to the free mannose instead of the cell wall mannose.
Here are some other self-help approaches to try.
• Limit your intake of sugary foods, refined carbs and alcohol.
• Drink at least eight glasses of filtered or bottled water a day to help flush out unhealthy organisms from the bladder.
• Increase your intake of cranberries and cranberry juice. Undiluted cranberry juice contains higher amounts of active ingredients, so choose this over presweetened juice for the best effects. However, this doesn’t work for everybody.
• Some people report benefit by making the urine LESS acidic by mixing a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda with half a pint of water. There are also over-the-counter remedies containing alklaising sodium citrate or potassium citrate, available in solutions or sachets. This too can make it harder for bacteria to thrive.
• Eat an organic, live yoghurt every day or take probiotics.
• Avoid too many acid-forming foods such as sugar and red meat and increase alkaline forming foods such as green leafy veg.
• Take 2 grams of vitamin C daily (in 500mg doses throughout the day). Vitamin C helps to acidify urine. As a result, the bladder is a less appealing environment for harmful bacteria to colonise. Vitamin C also reinforces the body's immune defenses.
• Supplement D-mannose, which comes in powder form (can be mixed into drinks) or capsule form. The dosage depends on the severity of the infection, so use according to the manufacturers guidelines. It can also be taken at a maintenance dose if you are a regular sufferer.
• Try a vaginal probiotic cream such as Biocare’s Intrafesh. To purchase, visit Totally Nourish.
• Make sure your multivitamin is yeast free and contains biotin.
• Take Lactobacillus acidophilus for at least 6 weeks – especially important for anyone taking antibiotics to treat an infection.
• Always wipe from front to back after going to the toilet to prevent bacteria from entering the urethra.
• Use only white unscented toilet paper to avoid potential dye reactions.
• Avoid potential irritants such as perfumed soaps, bath oils and vaginal deodorants at all times, as chemicals are strongly implicated in this condition. Don't douche.
• Urinate as soon as possible after sex to stop transmission of bugs into the bladder and always wash before and after sex.
• If symptoms are acute, avoid intercourse for at least one week as bacteria can be passed from one partner to another.
• Wear cotton underwear and loose clothing. Avoid tight fitting jeans, especially in hot weather.
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