Florian Meier from the Adler-Pharmacy in Winterthur explains why bladder inflammation is a burdensome and frequently recurring problem for many women and what alternatives there are to antibiotics.
Any infection, which involves the urine-carrying organs, is referred to as a urinary tract infection, mostly due to bacteria. The bacteria reach the outer urethral opening by smear infection, that is by physical contact, and from there wander up to the urethra. If the bacteria reach the bladder then this is referred to as bladder inflammation or so-called cystitis.
If the inflammation persists untreated for an extended period, the bacteria can ascend to the upper urinary tract as far as the kidney, where they cause a pelvicalyceal system inflammation. The microbes can come either from the body’s own gut flora or can be transmitted from a partner during sexual intercourse. Women are far more frequently affected by bladder inflammation than men. This is due to the fact that their urethra is somewhat shorter than a man’s, meaning that bacteria only have to travel a very short distance in order to colonise the bladder. Inflammation of the urethra can often remain unnoticed, so long as it does not reach the bladder and does not provoke any symptoms.
Mostly, however, adults develop a painful or burning sensation upon urination as well as an urge to pass water with incomplete bladder emptying. As soon as the infection reaches the bladder lower abdominal pain also develops. What does not belong to the symptoms of such an infection, however, is any kind of vaginal itch or discharge. If the upper urinary tract or the pelvicalyceal system are affected, then fever and severe pain develop. However, even if these symptoms are present in a mild form, one can mostly recognise a urinary tract infection by the facts that the urine is turbid or discoloured and has an acrid, foetid smell.
On occasion, there may even be blood in the urine. Further, bacteria and white blood cells can be demonstrated in the urine.
Often, bladder inflammation may simply vanish without special treatment within three weeks just as a result of regular toileting. However, since the bacteria can disseminate to the kidney, it is not usually advisable to do nothing. If one does not immediately want to go to the doctor for it, there are several very good home remedies. However, it is important to know that, whilst it is certainly possible to alleviate the symptoms of bladder inflammation and shorten its course, there is no certainty that they will work for everyone and lead to the complete disappearance of the infection.
At the Adler-Pharmacy we advise patients to drink plenty and regularly. It is one of the best and most established home remedies, because it washes the bacteria out of the bladder. It should be at least two litres per day, and alcohol, coffee and citrus juices should be avoided, since these drinks can irritate the bladder. In addition to drinking plenty and washing out, one should also not avoid going to the toilet, even if it is unpleasant.
Careful and correct hygiene of the intimate areas are also very important. After urination, attention should be paid to wiping from front to back and not the other way around, as otherwise the flora from one’s own gut can reach the urethral opening. Furthermore, it is important to find a happy medium for one’s daily hygiene: insufficiently frequent bodily hygiene favours colonisation and growth of bacteria, whilst excessive showering destroys the natural acidic barrier of the vagina, which normally inhibits the entry of microbes.
We also recommend hipbaths, where one sits immersed up to the hips in approx. 36 °C warm water infused with common horsetail, camomile or sage.
Thereafter, hot water is added until the bath reaches a temperature of around 41 °C. In general, heat in the form of hot water bottles or heat pads applied to the lower abdomen helps to alleviate pain. Finally, there are several herbs and berries, which possess antibacterial and diuretic properties and are excellently suited for use as a tea. Bear berry leaves work especially well against microbes and inflammation in the region of the bladder and urethra and have thus proved to be particularly effective.
Juniper has particularly good diuretic properties and is thus ideal for flushing out a bladder inflammation.
Beyond this, there are extra kidney and bladder teas or – very convenient to take - dragées, which contain many medicinal plants such as birch leaves, nettle, liquorice and other constituents. Cranberry juice can also help reduce dissemination of the infection, since the active agent proanthocyanidin makes adhesion of the bacteria to the walls of the urinary tract more difficult. Huckleberries and bilberries also possess this agent.
Source: This is how to get rid of the inflammation, Florian Meier, Consultation Dr. Stutz, 12.2014