Bladder infections, irritation and painful urination or urine leakage can all come from bacteria in your system. Bladder diseases include: Cystitis - inflammation of the bladder; Urinary Incontinence - loss of bladder control; Overactive Bladder - a condition which causes the bladder to squeeze urine out at the wrong time; Interstitial Cystitis - causes pain and frequency, with an urgency to urinate; and Bladder Cancer - the fourth most common form of cancer in men and the sixth in women, in the US. The risks of developing this form of cancer can come from exposure to workplace chemicals such as benzidine and beta-naphthylamine used in the dye industry, textiles, printers, diesel fumes, smoking and family history. Some diabetic medicine such as pioglitazone has been linked with an increase of bladder cancer. Not drinking enough fluids can be another factor.
The most common symptoms of bladder cancer can include blood in the urine that is visible to the naked eye or microscopic hematuria. Either consistent or intermittent it is still a sign that you should get a thorough check up. Although bladder cancer is usually painless, this disease can cause a burning sensation when urinating, an increased sense of urgency to urinate and possibly stomach, back or bone pain around the bladder, or sudden unexplained weight loss. Dark brown, yellow or red urine is also a warning sign.
Bladder health can be affected by urinary infections, kidney and bladder stones. Bladder catheters left in place too long can raise the risk of cancer cells forming. A bladder infection is a type of urinary tract infection (UTI). This refers to an infection in any part of the urinary tract, such as the bladder, kidneys, ureters or the urethra. In most cases bladder infections are acute, occurring suddenly. They can also, however, be chronic, recurring over the long term. Bacteria that enter through the urethra and move to the bladder cause infections. In normal circumstances the body removes bacteria by flushing them out during urination. Sometimes bacteria attaches to the bladder walls and multiplies. This habit of multiplying can overwhelm the body’s natural cleansing efforts and result in an infection.
Most bladder infections are caused by Escherichia coli - or E.coli - which is naturally present in the large intestines. Stool particles entering the urethra from the surrounding skin can cause bladder infections. Women are more prone than men to this type of infection. Men are also susceptible to UTI’s, however it is more common in older men, who can develop noncancerous enlargement of their prostate gland. The prostate wraps around the neck of the bladder, in the spot where the urethra connects to the bladder. Enlargement of the prostate can choke the bladder neck making it more difficult to urinate. If the bladder does not empty properly, bacteria gains a hold and multiplies, causing infections. Further dangers of bladder infections for men can include:
• Being immobile for long periods
• Not drinking enough fluids.
• Being uncircumcised
• Fecal incontinence
• Anal intercourse
There are other dangers for both men and women which can irritate the bladder. Many foods can become potential irritants, so it is a good idea to become familiar with these troublesome dietary items. Caffeine is a strong diuretic, which increases the amount of urine you make.
• Caffeine stimulates the bladder muscles which increases the “urgency” feelings
• Chocolate, tea, protein bars and weight loss products can have hidden caffeine.
• Over the counter medications can be culprits of bladder irritation.
• Alcohol is another diuretic and can prompt urgency.
• Artificial sweeteners in diet sodas and diet foods have also shown to be irritating.
• Acid fruits and juices - citrus, pineapple, sour grapes and tomatoes
PhD Naturopathic Doctor
Metro Integrative Pharmacy
cdc.com, Draxe.com, Mayoclinic.org, cancer.org
Advice for the protection of bladder health:
One of the best methods of preventing a weak bladder and untimely leakage is not only to avoid food triggers but also to do Kegel exercises. If a weak pelvic floor is the root of your issues, especially an overactive bladder, these simple exercises can help to improve muscle tone and help reduce instances of bladder spasms. Don’t wait until the last moment to schedule your trip to the bathroom, and although this may sound trivial, it helps to regularly empty the bladder. Check the color of your urine, cloudy, dark or strong-smelling urine can be an indicator of health issues that need to be addressed, or that you are dehydrated and not urinating frequently enough. L-arginine is a type of amino acid that helps with detoxification and fights inflammation. It can help sooth an overactive bladder, since it contains antibacterial properties which inhibit the growth of bacterial due to the amino acid converting to nitric oxide. Probiotics are important in bladder health. Metro Integrative carries a good selection of specific probiotics to help support bladder and urinary tract health. Quercetin is another antioxidant that plays an anti-inflammatory role in bladder health. Garlic is an antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, and we have a selection of supplements that will not leave you with “garlic breath.” Cranberries have shown to help prevent UTIs and can be taken regularly along with D-Mannose, which has shown to help prevent certain types infection causing bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract. Another herb that has shown to be effective in urinary tract health is uva ursi, or bear’s grape. It works well to eliminate UTI pain and symptoms, such as urgency. It has antibacterial properties from its main bioactive – arbutin - which creates a metabolite called hydroquinone glucuronide, which prevents bacteria from adhering to the tissue, giving relief. This herb is available in tincture form in a product called Urinary System Support, along with the herbs Horsetail and Corn Silk, both of which help relieve and prevent kidney and bladder stones, inflammation of the prostate and bedwetting, as well as UTIs. For the prevention and treatment of bladder cancer, AHCC has shown great promise in extensive studies carried out in Japan (see www.ahccpublishedresearch.com).
Please come into Metro Integrative for assistance in selecting the best products for maintaining a healthy bladder. Our certified practitioners are available to discuss this or any other health issues about which you might be concerned.
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This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition. The information in this article is for educational purposes only.