Posts Tagged ‘urinary infections’

Water, Wet and Wonderful

May 3, 2010

Water is one of life’s best elixirs; there are few things as available, inexpensive and health-giving —so drink up.

Even though it is readily available, tasteless and free, most Americans do not drink enough water. And water remains one of nature’s most perfect medications. In fact, water is the most essential component of your diet.

While you can live for several weeks without food, you can live only a few days without water. Water loss of three percent of the body weight or approximately two quarts without replacement can result in weakness and lethargy. A 15-20 percent water loss can be fatal.

Nearly half the total body weight consists of water. To ensure good health, the average person requires two to three quarts of water per day because this is the volume that is lost in perspiration, urine, feces and breath. Nearly half of the food we eat consists of water.

Water is necessary for nearly all bodily functions such as digestion, circulation, excretion, nutrient transmission and temperature regulation.

More specifically, there are thirteen ways that water works in the human body:

  1. Water quenches thirst. There is no better liquid to quench your thirst than water. Many people are incorrectly informed that you only need to drink water in hot weather. The truth is large volumes of water are lost through your breath in cold, dry weather. Although you can substitute other beverages such as colas, coffee and electrolyte drinks, there is no other drink that contains fewer calories and more nutrients than water. In fact, affricated beverages can act as diuretics and cause the body to excrete water and important chemicals like potassium.
  2. Water aids digestion. Water dilutes the acidity in the stomach and causes the release of enzymes necessary for digestion. Water is also a natural laxative and relieves constipation.
  3. Water cools the body during exercise. As the body heats up during exercise, the internal thermostat promotes perspiration. Internal body temperature can be decreased with the consumption of cold water. Cold water is best because it is absorbed into the circulation more quickly than warm water.
  4. Water promotes waste excretion. The kidneys are the paired organs used to remove metabolic bodily water material. Water is essential for these incredible filters to do their work and flush out the body’s waste products.
  5. Water carries nutrients to the cells. All of the body’s cells are bathed in a saltwater solution.  Blood moves nutrients to the cells and removes the waste products to the kidneys and liver. Water is necessary to maintain the blood volume to carry out these vital functions
  6. Water reduces kidney stones. If too much calcium, oxalate or uric acid is excreted in the urine, crystals will form and start the growth of kidney stones. The best treatment to reduce kidney stones is to drink enough water to keep the particles from hitting one another and starting the crystallization process
  7. Water lubricates the joints. The bones glide against one another with minimal friction because of a lubricant called synovial fluid. Drinking plenty of water increases the synovial fluid and reduces the wear and tear on the joints
  8. Water promotes good skin tone. Skin elasticity is maintained when the body is well hydrated.  Chronic fluid loss leads to dry, wrinkled skin.
  9. Water dilutes alcohol and relieves headaches. There is no better remedy for a hangover than several glasses of water. Water dilutes the alcohol content in the blood stream and decreases its effect on the brain and central nervous system alleviating headache and hangover associated with excessive alcohol consumption.
  10. Water decreases pre-menstrual fluid retention. Some women experience salt retention during their menstrual periods. This leads to excess water retention as well. Diuretics or water pills only offer a temporary solution. Paradoxically, you can promote salt excretion by drinking more water. As the water is passed through the kidneys, it excretes the excess salt as well as the excess water.
  11. Water is a diet aid. Drinking a glass of water before each meal leads to a sensation of fullness before you sit down to the table, thus acting as a natural appetite suppressant. Water helps the body metabolize stored fat. If there is not adequate water to rid the body of waste through the kidneys, then the liver must be called in to do the kidney’s work. If the liver is doing the kidney’s work, it cannot metabolize body fat and weight loss is slowed or stopped.
  12. Water is a natural relaxer. Water is an excellent way to wash away tension. Swimming induces a feeling of calmness and exhilarates the body, similar to a jogger’s high.
  13. Water aids pregnant women. A pregnant woman should be especially conscious of getting eight to ten glasses of water a day. Water will clear her system of added metabolic body waste contributed by the fetus. It will also help prevent dehydration that may result from morning sickness.

How much water is enough? The time-honored advice of drinking eight to ten glasses of water a day still holds true. However, the more you exercise, the more you need to drink. A good rule of thumb is to drink approximately one quart of water for each hour of exercise.

Drinking too much water is rarely a problem. Too much water, more than six quarts a day, can dilute body minerals and electrolytes producing lethargy, confusion and if not corrected, convulsions and coma. The treatment is simple: Decrease the water intake and allow the kidneys to flush out the excess.

Bottom Line: Water is truly the elixir of life.  So enjoy one of life’s greatest medicines and it’s free.  Drink up!

Urinary Tract Infections in Women-Taking the Burn Out of Urine

May 3, 2010

Urinary tract infections (UTI) are a serious health problem affecting 8.3 million Americans each year. 53% of all women have had at least one urinary tract infection during their lifetimes. Many women suffer from frequent UTIs. Nearly 20 percent of women who have one UTI will have another infection. This article will cover the causes, symptoms, and treatment of UTIs in women.

What are the causes of UTI?

Most infections arise from bacteria, Escherichia coli (E. coli), which normally lives in the colon. These bacteria gain access to the urinary tract through the urethra or the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.

An infection limited to the urethra is called urethritis. If bacteria move to

the bladder and multiply, a bladder infection, called cystitis, results. If the infection is not treated promptly, bacteria may then travel to the kidneys. A kidney infection is called pyelonephritis.

Microorganisms called Chlamydia and Mycoplasma may also cause UTIs in women, but these infections tend to remain limited to the urethra and reproductive system. Unlike E. coli, Chlamydia and Mycoplasma may be sexually transmitted, and infections require treatment of both partners.

Who is at risk?

In women the rate of UTIs gradually increases with age. Scientists are not sure why women have more urinary infections than men. One factor may be that a woman’s urethra is short, allowing bacteria quick access to the bladder. Also, a woman’s urethral opening is near sources of bacteria in the anus and the vagina. For many women, sexual intercourse seems to trigger an infection, although the reasons for this linkage are unclear.

Some women are more prone to getting a UTI than others. Women with diabetes have a higher risk of a UTI because of changes in the immune system. Any other disorder that suppresses the immune system raises the risk of a urinary infection.

According to several studies, women who use a diaphragm are more likely to develop a UTI than women who use other forms of birth control. Recently, researchers found that women whose partners use a condom with spermicidal foam also tend to have growth of E. coli bacteria in the vagina.

What are the symptoms of UTI?

The most common symptoms include a frequent urge to urinate and a painful, burning feeling in the area of the bladder or urethra during urination. It is not unusual to feel bad all over-tired, shaky, washed out-and to feel pain even when not urinating. Often women feel an uncomfortable pressure above the pubic bone. The urine itself may look milky or cloudy, even reddish if blood is present. Normally, a UTI does not cause fever if it is in the bladder or urethra. A fever may mean that the infection has reached the kidneys. Other symptoms of a kidney infection include pain in the back or side below the ribs, nausea, or vomiting.

How is UTI diagnosed?

To find out whether you have a UTI, your doctor will test a sample of urine for pus and bacteria. In the urinalysis test, the urine is examined for white and red blood cells and bacteria. Then the bacteria are grown in a culture and tested against different antibiotics to see which drug best destroys the bacteria.

How is UTI treated?

UTIs are treated with antibiotic medications. The choice of drug and length of treatment depend on the patient’s history and the urine tests that identify the offending bacteria. The sensitivity test is especially useful in helping the doctor select the most effective drug. The drugs most often used to treat routine, uncomplicated UTIs are trimethoprim (Trimpex), trimethoprimlsulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra, Cotrim), amoxicillin (Amoxil, Trimox, Wymox), nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin, Furadantin), and ampicillin (Omnipen, Polycillin, Principen, Totacillin). A class of drugs called quinolones includes four drugs approved in recent years for treating UTI. These drugs include ofloxacin (Floxin), norfloxacin (Noroxin), ciprofloxacin (Cipro), and trovafloxin (Trovan).

Often, a UTI can be cured with I or 2 days of treatment if the infection is not complicated by an obstruction or other disorder. Many doctors ask their patients to take antibiotics for a week or two to ensure that the infection has been cured. Most doctors suggest that drinking plenty of water helps cleanse the urinary tract of bacteria. During treatment, it is best to avoid coffee, alcohol, and spicy foods.

Recurrent Infections in Women

Women who have had three UTIs are likely to continue having them. Four out of five such women get another within 18 months of the last UTI. Many women have them even more often. A woman who has frequent recurrences (three or more a year) can take low doses of an antibiotic such as TMP/SMZ or nitrofurantoin daily for 6 months or longer. If taken at bedtime, the drug remains in the bladder longer and may be more effective.

Additional steps that a woman can take on her own to avoid an infection:

I. Drink plenty of water every day.

  1. Urinate when you feel the need; don’t resist the urge to urinate.
  2. Wipe from front to back to prevent bacteria around the anus from entering the vagina or urethra.
  3. Take showers instead of tub baths and avoid bubble baths.
  4. Cleanse the genital area before sexual intercourse.
  5. Avoid using feminine hygiene sprays and scented douches, which may irritate the urethra.
  6. Use cotton underwear as synthetics will trap bacteria.

Bottom line: UTIs are one of the most common infections occurring in women. The diagnosis is easily made and most women can be cured with a single course of antibiotics. Others need low-dose daily medication to control their infections.

Cystitis-How To Leave Home Without It

April 13, 2010

What does sex, bubble bath and thongs have in common?  Answer: They may all be causes of cystitis.  If you are a woman who has ever suffered from cystitis then you will know just how debilitating and miserable it can be, you you can perhaps take comfort from the fact that you are far from alone.  It seems that at last 20% of women have had an attack at some point in their lives, and 20% of those will get more than one episode a year.

There is certainly no mistaking the feeling it brings, which usually starts with a strong sensation of needing to urinate.  When you try to go, it either burns horribly, or nothing seems to come out.  You may have a full, uncomfortable sensation in the bladder, plus an aching back and stomach and a general feeling of being unwell.  The most common cause is an infection caused by bacteria.  It isn’t only a female problem but far more common in women than men.  The reason is that the internal plumbing of women is much shorter than in a man and the relationship of the rectum which is usually the source of the bacteria is closer to the urinary tract in women than in men.

A bacteria, called E. Coli, is usually the culprit.  Since E. Coli coming from the rectum can reside in the vagina and then can have easy access to the urethra or the tube that transmits urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.  This is why it is beneficial for women to wipe from front to back when they use the restroom.  If you swipe the wrong way, you can move the bugs from the rectum into the vagina and then into the urethra.  Another recommendation is to switch from nylon or synthetic underwear to the cooler cotton briefs which discourage the growth of bacteria.  Also, thongs and G strings may be very sexy but they are bad news for cystitis sufferers as the string is an effective way for bacteria to hitch a ride from your bottom to your bladder.

Another suggestion is to change the bacterial flora of the gastrointestinal tract.  This can be accomplished by regularly eating yoghurt which contains the good bacteria lactobacillus or acidophilus.

It is also crucial to drink large quantities of water to flush away any bacteria.  Also, it is recommended that sufferers of frequent cystitis go the toilet when you first feel the urge.  The longer you hold in urine, the fuller your bladder is, with more potential for bacteria to grow and proliferate.  Using bubble baths or irritating soaps around the vagina should also be avoided as these agents can upset the delicate balance of acidity and alkalinity in your skin so that bacteria can flourish.

It also appears that sexual intercourse, promotes moving bacteria from the vagina into the urethra.  This then starts the process of bacterial multiplication in the bladder and creates the symptoms of cystitis.  Therefore, it is important for women who get cystitis after intercourse to urinate frequently after sexual intimacy to wash the bacteria out of the urethra so they don’t become permanent residents and create an infection.

For years doctors have recommended cranberries of a method to reduce the attacks of recurrent cystitis.  Initially, it was thought that the cranberries were a source of acid and this prevented cystitis.  Now research has shown that the cranberries contain chemicals that help stop the bacteria from sticking onto the bladder wall.  Because cranberry juice can be quite high in sugar, you might prefer to take one of the cranberry supplements that are available.

Beating back an attack

The first practical step is to consume 2 glasses of water every 20 minutes for the first three hours.  This will help you ladder to flush itself out, and sometimes is enough on it s own to prevent further problems.  If not, gulp down a few glasses of cranberry juice.  Sipping a glass of water with a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda stirred into it may help the burning sensation when you urinate.

If these simple measures don’t relieve your symptoms in a day or two, you may need to see your doctor and take a short course of antibiotics.  Failure to treat the infection can result in a much more serious kidney infection.  Also, if you have more than 3-4 infections in a 12 month period you will want to see your doctor to be sure there isn’t something else more ominous causing these infections.