When speaking about urinary tract infections, we usually speak about bacterial infections. Fungi (a.k.a yeasts or mold) are different organisms from bacteria and they can cause infections such as thrush in some parts of the body. Fungal infections in the vagina for example are a well-known condition. But can there also be fungal infections in the urinary tract?
Last week I had a look at how hormones affect the urinary tract. Changes in the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone and even the ‘male’ hormone testosterone appear to affect urinary tract symptoms.
Oral contraception affects hormone levels in the body and may therefore also affect urinary tract symptoms.
Other contraception may not affect hormones but may have an impact on the urinary tract in other ways.
Today I would like to take a look at what we know about different forms of contraception and bladder health.
Today I’d like to take a closer look at the role of hormones on bladder health. Hormones have been known for a while to play a role in lower urinary tract symptoms such as UTIs, interstitial cystitis and stress incontinence. Hormones may be the reason why women generally seem to be more prone to bladder problems than men and also why some symptoms may get worse at certain times of the month.
Last week I talked about the theory that some cases of interstitial cystitis may not be IC per se, but rather a mast cell activation disorder affecting different systems in the body.
Today I would like to offer a couple of natural options that may help to reduce mast cells or at least their effects in the body.
In many cases of interstitial cystitis, mast cells are raised in the bladder and play a big role in the unpleasant symptoms of an IC flare. Modern medicine likes to put names on symptoms but sometimes this may not describe the real issue well.
Interstitial cystitis is often a diagnosis of exclusion and similar to syndromes such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) it is a functional disorder with an array of symptoms. The condition in itself could even be a symptom in itself. In the case of raised mast cells the question is whether it is really IC or could it be mast cell activation disorder (MCAD)?
Both emotional and physiological stressors seem to trigger flares of interstitial cystitis in some patients. For me that was certainly the case. Therefore, I’d like to have a look at why stress can trigger interstitial cystitis flares.
Stress may be one of the biggest culprits of modern life when it comes to triggering chronic illness. The problem seems to be that there is an evolutionary mismatch between the body’s stress response and what we perceive as being stressful.
Mast cells have long been reported to be raised in patients suffering from interstitial cystitis. Mast cells are a type of cell that are usually associated with allergies. Today I’m going to take a look at the relationship between interstitial cystitis and mast cells.
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.