Nothing ruins a good time like a friendly visit from the Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Fairy. Anyone who has ever experienced a UTI, a.k.a. bladder infection knows of the teeth-grinding-white knuckle, want-to-punch-everyone-in-the-face pain that comes along with one. Did you know that UTIs are the most common health-care associated reported infection?
More than 50% of women will experience one in their lifetime (20% will experience more than one) and 10% of men will experience one. The reason men experience UTIs way less than women is because women have a shorter urethra that is closer to their…um…exit area. Yup ladies! The anatomy joke is on us again!
Note: If you’re already a “know-it-all” about UTIs and just want to get to the magical cure, skip down to the section labeled “Your Super Hero: D-Mannose“, you attention- deficit bums.
What are UTIs?
For those of you who don’t know, a UTI is an infection that attacks a part of your urinary system, which could include your bladder, ureters, urethra, and/or kidneys.
Approximately 90% of all UTIs are caused by E.coli sneaking its evil little way up your short urethra and into your urinary system. The shorter distance they have to travel, the more likely they are to infect. Hence why the whole, “women have a short urethra” thing really sucks.
Symptoms can appear in the following ways:
- A frequent desire to urinate, even after immediately having done so
- A feeling of straining toward the end of urination
- A feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder
- Pain and burning when urinating (I love how they word this. It can actually feel closer to peeing out razorblades.)
- A need to urinate several times during the night
- Urine that is cloudy or bloody (pink or red)
- Strong-smelling urine
- Pain in the abdomen or back
- Poor urinary stream (usually in men)
Why you get UTIs
If you get a UTI it doesn’t mean you’re a dirty slob who also likes to sleep around, which is what everyone seems to think. This infection is EXTREMELY common and can occur even if the wind blows a certain way. However, some believed causes are:
- Drinking tons of alcohol and/or caffeine (irritants to the bladder)
- Suppressed Immune System
- Not wiping front to back and/or poor hygiene
- Thong underwear
- Sexual Activity or a new sexual partner
- Being a woman
Current Treatments for UTIs
If you go to the doctor complaining of UTI symptoms, here’s what’s going to happen:
- You’ll be asked to tinkle in a cup (which you KNOW is so much fun) so they can test to see if you have a UTI.
- If you test positive for a UTI, they’ll immediately prescribe some form of antibiotics.
- Most likely they won’t test your urine to find out what kind of bacteria is present (unless you pay extra and request it), assuming that the UTI is caused by E.coli and assuming that antibiotics will cure you.
But here’s the rub on that pile of nonsense. Do you know what they use to test your urine??? A version of these test strips you can buy at any Walgreen’s, CVS, or drugstore: AZO UTI Test Strips. These handy little guys measure the levels of Nitrates and Leukocytes (white blood cells) in your urine, which go completely out of whack when you have a UTI.
So you can either pay a doctor $150-$200 dollars to use these, or you can use them yourself. Empowerment never felt so good…
Here’s the next rub that’s gonna piss you off (pun intended). Antibiotics are currently the only prescribed method of treating UTIs. However, because of how antibiotics work in your body (viciously murdering bacteria, guilty or innocent) it completely screws with your immune system: the very thing you need in tip top shape to fight UTIs.
Taking antibiotics will immediately knock the UTI right outta ya. BUT, they will actually make you more likely to get another UTI! Which means more antibiotics, which means more UTIs, which leads to you punching everyone in the face. And if you’re really lucky, you’ll also develop digestive problems and an awesome yeast infection to boot! Now you’ll really be a hit at parties!
Also, the more you use the antibiotics, the more likely you’ll be to develop antibiotic resistant bacteria… And then what will you doooo? Who will save you???
But Lana! What about cranberry stuffs?
I’m sure many of you have heard people say, “Drink tons of cranberry juice!!! Take cranberry pillzzzz!” Well ya see…there’s a bit of truth behind their recommendation, but there are a couple problems with it as well.
The main problem is that most cranberry juice you purchase at the store is like 60% water, 38% sugar, and 1-2% actual cranberry. Now listen to me people and listen to me good: Consuming large amounts of sugar, especially in liquid form with zero fat/fiber to slow it down, curbs immune system cells that fight bacteria. Now why would you want to do that when you’re trying to fight bacteria in yo bladder?? I just don’t know!
And if you’ve ever chugged pure cranberry juice with zero added sugar, I salute you. It is disgusting and painful. I do not recommend it.
The second problem is that you’re getting a whole bunch of other junk you don’t need by drinking cranberry juice (or taking cranberry pills) and very little of the key ingredient in cranberries that actually cures UTIs.
If only there was a way to get a super-concentrated form of that magical ingredient minus all the cranberry juice chugging!!!
The potential cure for UTIs
Oh wait, there is! That magical ingredient in cranberries (also in other fruits such as peaches, oranges, blueberries, etc.) is a sugar called D-Mannose. This little guy will be your hero and you can get him in concentrated form.
To sum up the highly scientific process of how this guy works, I shall use one of my famously horrible analogies. *clears throat*.
D-Mannose is a possessive stalker and E.coli is the carefree, problem-causing love interest who just wants to be free and do whatever it wants. When D-Mannose spies its love (E.coli) floating around free it thinks, “NO. THEMS MINE,” and grabs onto E.coli. No matter what E.coli does to try to break free, it just can’t! E.coli is stuck with ol’ possessive, stalkery, D-Mannose and has to go wherever D-Mannose goes. When D-Mannose is flushed out in your urine, poor E.coli is forced to go with it. Muhahah!
So that’s basically how it works in your body. Summed up: D-Mannose clears your bladder of the E.coli that’s causing your infection.
But Lana! You just went on a rant about sugar and now you’re telling me to take sugar pills? Are ya taking crazy pillz???
Now calm down folks! D-Mannose is like the fiber of the sugar world! You only absorb/metabolize less than 10% of what you ingest. That would be like swallowing 10 teaspoons of table sugar and only absorbing 1 teaspoon (you wish). This means no attack on your immune system, barely any extra calories, no sugar rush, and no increase in blood sugar levels (safe for diabetics, although I’d still verify with your doctor to make sure).
The Coolest Part of D-Mannose
Few Side Effects
Side effects of D-Mannose
- Loose stools
And here are the side-effects associated with using antibiotics:
- Yeast Infections
- Renal Toxicity
- Liver Toxicity
- Allergic Reaction
- White patches on tongue
- And let’s not forget more likely to cause reoccurring infections and
- The risk of developing antibiotic resistant bacteria
Keep in mind, the reported side effects for D-Mannose are extremely rare where the reported side effects for antibiotics are extremely common.
Annnnd… Some of the side effects associated with antibiotics can last for months up to years after stopping the dosage. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!
It’s Backed by Scientific Studies
Another bonus to D-Mannose is that it’s one of the few supplements with actual scientific evidence backing its effectiveness. So instead of some toothless hippy claiming that eating tree bark (how is he chewing tree bark without any teeth??) will cure cancer, you actually have scientists proving that D-Mannose really works.
Numerous studies have proven that D-Mannose has about the same cure rate as antibiotics with a fraction of the side effects.
And, the nutrition world categorizes cranberries as a “functional food”, specifically because of the D-mannose it contains. A functional food is a type of food that has a positive effect(s) on your health besides just its nutritional value. Bam!
You’ll Save Money
Annnnd…think of all the money you’ll save by diagnosing yourself (test strips) and healing yourself (D-Mannose). No costly trip to see a doctor, no costly antibiotics, and thankfully, no costly anti-fungal creams to deal with your post-antibiotic-induced yeast infection.
You’ll Save Your Body
Annnnnndddd….it won’t rip apart your insides, killing all the good bacteria in your body. Unlike…ahem…antibiotics. Which means you’ll be less likely to develop digestive issues, yeast infections, and/or become more susceptible to future UTIs.
- D-Mannose usually works best at the first sign of an infection. If you’ve had one for awhile and it’s kinda severe, this might not work for you.
- Do NOT continue taking D-Mannose if you are not seeing any improvement and are steadily getting worse. If that is the case, you must give in and see a doctor. An untreated UTI can head to your kidneys and then you’re reallllly screwed. I like to think of D-Mannose as a first step attempt to avoid using antibiotics. However, if it isn’t working, it’s time to pull out the big guns, a.k.a. see a doctor and get treatment.
- If your UTI is caused by something other than E.coli, D-Mannose will NOT work. But, seeing that about 90% of UTIs are caused by E.coli, you’re working with some good odds.
Because the studies are new on D-Mannose, there isn’t an “agreed-upon-perfect-dosage” or frequency. However, the loosely recommended dosage (and the amount used in the studies) is around 500-1000 mg of D-Mannose taken orally (either in powder form or pills) every 2-3 hours until improvement occurs. After you start seeing improvement, begin lowering the dosage gradually but continue taking for 2-3 days after all symptoms are gone.
Drink tons of water whilst taking D-Mannose, but wait a an hour or two after taking a dose to give the D-Mannose time to grab onto the e.Coli before it’s flushed out. The more you drink, the more you urinate, so the more e.Coli you’ll flush out of your system.
As with most supplements, I would not recommend taking on a daily basis if you are no longer seeing symptoms. But, you can totally take it as a preventative measure once and awhile if you’re going to engage in an activity that usually triggers a UTI for you.
The End. FINALLY.
WHEW, that was a long article. SEE WHAT I DO FOR YOU PEOPLE??? If you have any questions at all about this topic, please head to my Contact Page and ask away!
Here’s to a happy urinary system! 😀