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How do I prevent a bladder infection?

A burning pain in the bladder region and the urinary tract, the constant feeling of having to go to the toilet and the ominous feeling that it won't be the last time. Many people know what we're talking about: cystitis. But don't panic!

Table of contents:

  1. How does a bladder infection develop?
  2. Why are women more frequently affected by cystitis?
  3. How can you prevent cystitis?

How does cystitis develop?

A bladder inflammation (cystitis) can be caused by various pathogens. Bacteria are the primary cause of inflammation. In particular, Escherichia coli, which is normally found in the intestine, is responsible for around 80 percent of all bacterial bladder infections. These bacteria migrate via the urinary tract into the bladder and cause it to become inflamed. Burning pain when urinating, frequent urge to urinate and bladder cramps are the result. But viruses, fungi and worms can also be the cause of bladder inflammation.

Why are women more frequently affected by cystitis?

There are simple anatomical reasons why women are predominantly affected by bladder infections. Firstly, the urethra is significantly shorter in women (2.5 - 4 cm) than in men (20 - 25 cm in this case). This makes it much easier for bacteria to reach the bladder without being flushed out. Secondly, the opening of the urethra is closer to the anus in women than in men, making it easier for intestinal bacteria to penetrate.

Risk factors in young women include the use of hormonal contraceptives or a genetic predisposition. The frequent sexual activity of young women, known as "honeymoon cystitis", e.g. on their honeymoon or at the beginning of a relationship, poses a particularly high risk of inflammation of the bladder.

In many cases, the only treatment for acute cystitis is antibiotics. However, once the inflammation has been overcome, around every second woman gets another urinary tract infection within a year. But this doesn't necessarily have to be the case, as there are a number of things you can do to prevent it.

How can you prevent a bladder infection?

In general, you should drink plenty of fluids to flush out the bacteria. Emptying your bladder after sexual intercourse helps to get rid of any bacteria that may have entered. Long walks and wearing poorly ventilated and damp underwear can also trigger bladder inflammation. These vary from person to person. However, if you recognize a trigger, it is important to avoid it.

Specifically for people who often suffer from urinary tract infections, there are natural remedies such as cranberry extract, the sugar D-mannose and the amino acidL-methionine.

Cranberry

The Native Americans already used cranberry juice to treat urinary tract infections. It is believed that proanthocyanidin - the pigment that gives cranberry juice its red color - blocks the fimbriae (appendages of the bacteria with which they dock onto the cells). However, various studies show that it can be problematic to absorb the amount of proanthocyanidin required for such an effect by drinking cranberry juice. However, the use of concentrated extracts appears to be able to achieve positive effects.

D-mannose

The natural monosaccharide D-mannose is also suitable for preventing bladder inflammation, as it - similar to proanthocyanidin - prevents bacteria from docking onto the blood vessel walls of the bladder. Croatian researchers presented a study in the World Journal of Urology in which they found that the daily intake of D-mannose could significantly reduce the rate of recurrent urinary tract infections. The effect of D-mannose was comparable to that of nitrofurantoin, an antibiotic used to treat urinary tract infections. However, the side effects were significantly lower. The strict S3 guidelines on urinary tract infections also state that the use of mannose is recommended for recurrent bladder infections.

L-methionine

Another way to combat cystitis is to take the amino acid L-methionine. This lowers the pH value of the urine, making it difficult for E. coli bacteria to multiply.

The advantage of these natural remedies is obvious: no antibiotic tolerance develops in the problem-causing bacteria. In addition, unlike treatment with antibiotics, the body's "good bacteria" are not killed off.

Sources:

  • Kranjcec B et al. (2014) D-mannose powder for prophylaxis of recurrent urinary tract infections in women: a randomized clinical trial. World J Urol, 32:79-84 ff
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