When it comes to urinary tract infections (UTIs), a lot of attention is given to the bladder, kidney, ureters and urethra. Whilst this is important, it is not the full picture. Not when it comes to resolving frequent urinary tract infections, especially.
What is a Urinary Tract Infection?
A UTI is an infection in any part of the urinary tract, and all the parts mentioned above are found within. It is typically caused by an overgrowth of bacteria (usually E. coli).
Women get more UTIs than men, and there are a couple of theories for this; one is because they have a shorter urethra making it easier for bacteria to travel to the bladder, and another is when women have their periods and wear a pad and/or tampon these can encourage bacteria to grow.
If a UTI does not resolve after three days, it is important to see a doctor when antibiotics may be required, as a UTI can become extremely serious if it moves from the bladder to the kidneys. But it is always a good idea to send off a urine sample at this point to know what type of bacteria it is to ensure only one course of antibiotics is given - to help clear up the infection the first time.
UTIs & The Immune System Link
Because of the over-prescribing of antibiotics leads to bacterial antibiotic resistance and the subsequent lowering of important healthy bacteria species in the gut when taking antibiotics - it is important to address the true cause of a UTI to avoid this vicious cycle, especially if they are recurrent.
There is lots of emerging studies demonstrating that a weakened immune system is what can allow a UTI to develop in the first place and, if not resolved, can enable the UTIs to reoccur over and over again.
Your immune system could be totally normal but just have taken a dip from being overworked and then may let a UTI take hold; however, there are also people living with autoimmune diseases whose immune system is not optimal. This means they stand a greater chance of developing UTIs, especially recurring ones. Some examples of common autoimmune diseases include coeliac disease, graves disease, Hashimoto thyroiditis and multiple sclerosis.
Tackling Recurrent UTIs
With patients who are struggling with UTIs, I first take a look at their case history and try to understand what could be causing them on a personal level. However, in all cases, I will focus on optimising the immune system as much as possible for each individual.
Some of the supplements I find supportive include UTI-specific probiotics, D-mannose and zinc, and I also like to lean on herbal medicine, with one popular herb in my practice being uva ursi.
Do you struggle with recurrent UTIs? If so, please drop me an email if you are interested in using naturopathic nutrition and herbal medicine to prevent their reoccurrence to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will get back to you within two working days.