An introduction to the times and situations when UTI’s may be harder to avoid
I often talk about the positive steps you can take when it comes to diet and lifestyle factors, in order to help avoid UTI’s.
‘Avoid refined sugar’ says she, or ‘drink plenty of water,’ and to be fair, these steps really can make a difference. However, aside from these, there are quite simply certain times or situations that can make us more vulnerable to infections; changing hormones or physical changes in the body, for example, are harder for us to have control.
However, don’t give up all hope just yet, we can still take some extra steps in order to overcome all the odds and keep those infections at bay. Firstly, I explain below when and why we may become more vulnerable to infections, and then I go on to explore some tips solutions which may prove useful going forward.
During the night
As mentioned, there are just certain times or situations that are harder for us to avoid, but if we can understand why we may be more prone to infections, then we can begin to take the necessary precautionary measures! So, there are a few scenarios bad bacteria simply love –
1. Time – that’s right, undisturbed time, preferably in a moist, warm environment.
2. Stagnant urine – the perfect breeding grounds.
So, as you can imagine, a bladder during the night looks quite appealing! Bad bacteria can easily take the opportunity to set up camp, multiply and you wake up to a nice UTI in place. Instead, let’s stop them in their tracks with some of my top tips below.
• Keep a glass of water by your bedside – Drink some water throughout the evening before bed time, empty your bladder before bed and keep a fresh glass of water by your bedside which you can sip on as you need to throughout the night. This helps flush you through and keeps your urine dilute as possible
• Consider your sleep routine – A longer sleep means more time to dehydrate, try and get in a good routine meaning you get the same amount of sleep each night. Aim for 7-9hours each night and try and go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time - even at weekends!
Many women find they become more susceptible to UTI’s during pregnancy. Why though? Strangely the process is very similar to that of an enlarged prostate causing UTI’s! As an expanding uterus (or prostate) pushes into the bladder it can restrict its space. This can lead to a whole host of problems such as trapped pockets harbouring stagnant urine, or it can compromise the emptying of the bladder. Both scenarios mean infection are more likely to take hold.
• Don’t be scared of liquids – Not just in pregnancy, but normally, many women assume as they drink more water they’ll be running to the loo constantly so it just isn’t worth it. Actually, as you become dehydrated your bladder can become irritated and those extra trips to the loo become much more likely. As you drink more, your bladder gets used to the increased volume and you can actually hold more before needing to go; plus, it helps to keep things flushing through
• Cranberry is your friend – The remedies available to pregnant women are often somewhat limited, but cranberry juice is a nice option. Cranberry juice may help prevent bacteria sticking to the lining of the urinary tract so can be useful to help prevent the occurrence of new infections. Be sure to pick a low sugar variety such as Biotta Wild Mountain Cranberry and drink alongside plenty of water.
As a result of changing hormones – PMS and during Menopause
We can also become more susceptible to infections as a result of changing hormones. Yet again, good old oestrogen may be to blame. Both around the time of our period, and during the menopause, levels of oestrogen drop off. Believe it or not, this can leave the lining of the urethra slightly thinner and more sensitive. Hormones are also thought to have an influence on the pH throughout the urinary tract, as well as the balance of bacteria (thrush is also often more likely during these times too) so extra precautions are often necessary.
• Support your hormones – Depending on your symptoms, supporting your hormones may help keep pesky associated symptoms at bay. Whether it’s heavy, painful periods as a result of PMS, or perhaps hot flushes as a result of menopause which are going hand in hand with those bladder issues, it might be time to try a remedy. Click on the links to read some more on Agnus castus or Menopause Support
• Support the balance of bacteria – By supporting the balance of good bacteria in and around the urinary tract, you can in turn, help keep the levels of bad bacteria at bay. Diet and lifestyle tips are important of course, and for an extra helping hand you might want to consider a probiotic specifically designed for women.
As we get older
As we get older, unfortunately, for a number of different reasons we can become more susceptible to infections:
• Our immune functions become depleted – As we get older our immune system doesn’t always work as well as it used to – changing diets (plus less water and more tea in many cases!), altered sleep patterns and stress levels can all have an influence
• Structural changes – As we age, structural changes can make infections a more likely occurrence too. The position of the bladder changing in the case of a prolapse can have an influence, lower levels of oestrogen as women go through the menopause can affect the structure of the urinary tract (making it thinner and more vulnerable to infection in some cases), plus, in men, the threat of an enlarged prostate can make cystitis more likely too
• More exposure to bacteria – Unfortunately, as we get older the likelihood of hospital stays, the use of catheters, plus a more limited personal hygiene routine all become more likely which may have an impact.
• Support the immune system – To help support your immune system and keep on top of infections, why not try Echinacea. Echinaforce can help maintain the body’s resistance to infections and may give you a little extra support
• Support yourself in other ways – Don’t suffer in silence, we have a number of herbal remedies which could come in handy. Menopause Support helps support your oestrogen levels during all stages of the menopause and Prostasan can help offer relief from symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Then, at the first sign of any symptoms of a UTI, take Uva-ursi up to five times daily to help keep your symptoms under control.