There is new(ish) evidence emerging that recurrent UTIs, also known as chronic cystitis, are not always caused by a reinfection with a new pathogen but rather can be a relapse of the same pathogen.
It turns out that pathogenic bacteria have the ability to invade the cells of the bladder and live there in a dormant sleep-like state.
This is called an ‘intracellular bacterial community’.
In this state, the bacteria remain undetected by standard urine testing and unaffected by antibiotic treatment. They also remain undetected by our own immune system.
Now and again they can leave the cells, causing a relapse of the urinary tract infection.
For anyone who has read my own story, you may remember that repeated courses of antibiotics for chronic UTIs kicked off my interstitial cystitis a few years ago. Can antibiotics cause interstitial cystitis and chronic UTIs? For me, they have definitely played a big role.
This question has been at the back of my mind for a while and today I would like to take a look at some of the scientific evidence to answer this question.
The current gold-standard testing for UTIs involves culturing the bacteria present in a clean-catch midstream urine sample (MSU) in a lab dish.
On top of that, a dipstick test is often used to indicate the presence of infection markers in urine.
The guidelines for these testing methods have been established in the 1950s. With the discovery of the urinary microbiome, inadequacies of this method have come to light.
It turns out that urine is in fact not sterile and that many microbial species cannot be cultured in a lab.
Therefore, current testing for UTIs fails patients by missing infections.
Probiotics are ‘live microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host’ . Historically, probiotics have lacked credibility in the orthodox medical community but with recent scientific advances in the field of the human microbiome the therapeutic potential of different probiotic strains has been recognized.
In my last two posts I have looked into the urinary microbiome and how an imbalance of microbes in the bladder can predispose us to bladder conditions such as urinary tract infections, interstitial cystitis, overactive bladder and chronic pelvic pain.
Today I would like to take a look at several probiotic strains that have been studied for bladder- and genital health.
In last week’s post I talked about the urinary microbiota – the bacterial communities that have recently been discovered to be present in the urinary tract.
We know now that microbes that live in and on our bodies play a crucial role in health and illness. There are friendly and pathogenic microbes (bacteria, fungi etc.) plus opportunistic microbes that can become pathogenic when left unchecked.
When the delicate balance of good vs bad microbes is disturbed we become prone to an array of health conditions and infections. This is called a ‘dysbiosis’.
The human bladder and urine have long been considered to be sterile. Emerging evidence challenges this paradigm.
Recent advances in gene sequencing have made it possible to look at the human microbiome (the collective bacteria that live in and on our bodies) and more and more studies are showing an important link between the microbiome and our health.
Standard urine testing methods are limited in their ability to show the true bacterial composition of the urine and their main use is to show certain strains of bacteria that typically overgrow in urinary tract infections.
This week I’d like to outline a few hygiene concepts that have allowed me to never catch another UTI again.
If you suffer from recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs) or interstitial cystitis you need to know about biofilm infections.
More and more studies have demonstrated that pathogenic bacteria can persist within the bladder tissue and serve as a ‘reservoir’ for recurrent urinary tract infections.
Bacteria and fungi can make so-called biofilms and hide under them. This protects the bacteria from being discovered by our immune system or from being killed by antibiotics. It also makes it harder to discover them in a urine culture.
In my last blog post I looked at the ‘bladder-back-connection’. ‘Fix your Back, Fix your Bladder’ is part 2, in which I’m going to look at potential causes for back problems that affect the bladder and possible solutions.
To recap on the last post, I explained how the nerves connecting the bladder to the brain pass through the spine and that an injury to the spine can lead to damage or compression of these nerves.
The result can be bladder issues such as UTIs and interstitial cystitis.
If you are suffering from chronic cystitis or interstitial cystitis and you also experience lower back pain – read on. Lower back problems can be at the root of bladder problems. I call this the bladder-back-connection. Seem a bit far-fetched? Let me explain…