Why your doctor is wrong about chronic UTIs

conventional doctors often prescribe antibiotics for recurring urinary tract infections

By Dr. Sarika Arora, MD

Any woman who has experienced a UTI remembers the pain, burning and urgency it causes like it happened yesterday. And women who suffer from frequent UTIs begin to fear they’ll never escape from their suffering.

Unfortunately, recurrent UTIs trigger another pattern: conventional doctors usually jump right to antibiotics to solve the problem.

Trust me, there’s a better way.

Antibiotics?

Urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract and multiplying in the urethra, bladder, ureters or kidney. This causes abdominal pain, burning sensation and the frequent urge to pee — the most common symptoms of a UTI. An antibiotic that wipes out the disruptive bacteria can solve the problem quickly.

But when women have frequent UTIs, conventional doctors may push for long-term antibiotic use. This is a problem for two reasons:

1. Bacteria become resistant to antibiotics. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria can lead to stronger populations of troublesome bacteria.

2. Antibiotics eliminate even the good bacteria that you need. When antibiotics are prescribed, they wipe out the good bacteria along with the bad. This means that healthy vaginal flora and intestinal flora are disrupted. An imbalance in good bacteria often leads to yeast overgrowth in the vagina and intestines.

This is why there are much better options for UTIs than getting your prescription filled every couple of months.

Cranberry juice can help — or hurt

Many women ask me if cranberry is really helpful when it comes to UTIs. The answer is yes. As long as you choose your cranberry carefully!

unsweetened cranberry juice helps with recurring urinary tract infections

Here’s how it works. There are tiny sticky “fingers” on certain bacteria that cause them to attach to your urinary tract and cause infection. But cranberry contains powerful compounds that prevent bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract. This makes the painful bacteria pass right through. They can’t find a place to hang on and flourish.

Yet, OceanSpray and other widely available cranberry juices are full of sugar. So they will likely make things worse. Sugar feeds unhealthy bacteria and yeast, leading to yet more painful symptoms.

I suggest drinking unsweetened cranberry juice. It’s true that unsweetened cranberry juice is very bitter. But try mixing pure cranberry juice with water, green tea or herbal tea.

How to prevent recurrent UTIs

Before accepting a long-term course of antibiotics, try the holistic approach. Here’s what I recommend to my patients to prevent recurrent UTIs:

1. Drink lots of water! The more you can flush your system, the more likely you are to push the bacteria out.

2. Add pure cranberry. You can drink pure cranberry juice diluted to reduce the bitterness. You might also experiment with concentrated cranberry capsules taken with lots of water.

3. Include a probiotic in your daily routine. A high quality probiotic re-populates your digestive system, vaginal system and whole body with healthy bacteria. The more healthy flora you encourage, the less likely it is that disruptive bacteria and yeast can reproduce and cause symptoms.

4. Consider extra vitamin C. Vitamin C helps to boost your immune system and can tip the balance if your body is on the edge of infection. I recommend 500 mg twice daily.

You have options when it comes to chronic UTIs. Do what’s best for your whole body.

For more information on UTIs, read our article about stopping urinary tract infections.
References

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejm199810083391516

http://sci.rutgers.edu/dynarticles/7_November_2001@Cranberry_UTI.htm