Your urinary system consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. A urinary tract infection – UTI – is an infection in any part of your urinary system, however, the majority of infections involve the lower urinary tract — the bladder and the urethra.
UTIs are an equal opportunity inconvenience; more than half of women are diagnosed with a UTI at least once during their lifetime but men are susceptible too, as are children and especially the elderly. Frequent, painful or burning sensations during urination, as well as fever, blood or discharge in your urine, chills and disorientation are a few signs that you might have a UTI.
Most who develop UTIs are treated successfully with antibiotics, however, the chances of a UTI recurring increase the more UTIs you have. Antibiotics are most doctors’ first choice for treating a UTI, but even with antibiotics, UTIs can return months later, causing a cycle of infections and antibiotic treatment. To avoid this cycle many are turning to natural supplements to reduce risk of getting – and even treating – the infection. Here are the most popular supplements:
Many rely on cranberry juice or cranberry extracts as their first line of UTI defense. The scientific reasoning is that cranberries contain polyphenol, a powerful substance that interferes with the bacteria that often cause UTIs. Cranberry juice provides protection, but there also are dietary supplements in the form of extracts, powder, capsules and tablets. The jury is still out as to how effective cranberry supplements are in preventing recurrent UTIs, but many swear by them.
When it comes to UTIs, if cranberries pack a punch, then D-mannose provides the knock-out. In fact, the sugars in D-mannose are what give cranberry juice its natural antibiotic agents. Like glucose, D-mannose is a simple sugar that is derived naturally from fruits and some plants. What makes D-mannose effective is how it is absorbed in the body, making it an excellent option to prevent and treat infections in the bladder and urinary tract.
Vitamin C raises the acidity of urine, making your urinary tract a less desirable habitat for the microorganisms that cause UTIs. The antioxidant within vitamin C can also boost your immune system to fight off infection.
Overall, natural supplements seem to help prevent recurrent UTI infections, and they do not have the problems sometimes associated with repeated use of antibiotics. Of course, hygiene, diet/hydration, genetics, certain medications or medical treatments, and a number of medical conditions (including pregnancy and diabetes) can impact your susceptibility to UTIs. Talk with your doctor or nurse practitioner about how simple changes can make a big difference in preventing UTIs.
If you suspect you or someone you care for have a UTI, talk with your doctor to confirm the diagnosis and get treatment. At Urologic Surgeons of Arizona, our goal is to provide the best urologic care and treatment to patients with UTIs or a variety of other urological problems. To learn more about urinary tract health, call the office of Urologic Surgeons of Arizona at (480) 409-5060 to schedule an appointment, or request an appointment online.