UTIs are caused by an invasion of bacteria into the urinary tract system. Bacteria that reside in the intestinal tract and in the vaginal canal can migrate into the urethra and work their way up to the bladder and potentially to the kidneys. Common symptoms of UTIs are: burning with urination, an increase in frequency and urgency, fever, pelvic pressure and/ or low back pain. Sometimes symptoms are a little more vague and can be confused with a vaginal infection or vice versa. We require are patients to come into the office so their symptoms can be evaluated along with a urinalysis which can be completed in the office. The urinalysis allows your physician to determine if your symptoms are associated with a urinary tract infection by evaluating for white blood cells, bacteria and blood. If the urinalysis is inconclusive then we will often send off to the laboratory for the urine to be cultured specifically for the presence of bacteria.
Once the UTI diagnosis has being made then treatment options are discussed. Usually an anti-bacterial herbal formula will be prescribed in addition to dietary restrictions. If symptoms are severe and there is suspicion of a kidney infection antibiotics may be prescribed. A more unique approach is taken with patients who have chronic UTIs or UTIs brought on after sexual intercourse. We always treat the intestinal tract to balance out the bacteria and yeast in the colon since this is associated with the cause. We often give dietary recommendations along with a specific colon cleanse that will re-balance out the intestinal flora for both cases but vaginal treatments may also be given to the women who have the UTIs associated with intercourse.
Interstitial Cystitis (IC) must also be mentioned in this section as we have seen women go a long time without being properly diagnosed. Symptoms of IC can be similar to a UTI. Burning with urination is very common in women who have IC. Some women may explain that it feels like they are urinating out glass the pain can be so severe. Also pelvic pressure is often associated with the diagnosis along with an increase in frequency and urgency. As the condition progresses individuals may wake often in the night to use the bathroom due to the inability of the bladder to expand to hold more fluids.
Interstitial cystitis is caused by a degradation of the bladder wall. Glycosaminoglycans help protect and shield the bladder wall from contact with the urine. The urine can reach the nerve endings which are responsible for causing the pain. Diagnosis can often be made by determining symptoms, negative urinalysis and cultures showing there is no active UTI . We will often start treating for IC at this point. A concrete diagnosis would be made through a cystoscopy and biopsy. In essence a camera is inserted into the bladder and a biopsy is taken to evaluate the tissue. THere are many successful natural treatment options. Typically because foods can be very irritating to the bladder wall, a proper diet is key. Food sensitivity testing is crucial to be able to identify which foods are most irritating to each individual. The test we use evaluates for over 90 different sensitivities . Once the foods that are creating more inflammation are removed we then add in herbal combinations to help repair the bladder wall.