Treating Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Acupuncture and UTIs
Over the last few decades, acupuncture has become ever more mainstream and accepted as an effective treatment for a cornucopia of ailments, from stress and depression to back and joint pain. Now research has shown that the ages-old technique can not only alleviate the pain and discomfort of urinary tract infections (UTIs) but also help prevent their recurrence.
It’s estimated that every year up to eleven million people in the United States experience an acute UTI, which happens when bacteria get into the urinary system and multiply. Often called a bladder infection, UTI can attack all parts of the urinary system. There are three types of UTIs. Urethritis, an infection of the urethra, and cystitis, an infection of the bladder are the most common. Pyelonephritis is an infection of the kidney, which can become life-threatening if not treated properly.
Causes of Urinary Tract Infection
The cause of UTIs is no mystery; it’s a bacterial infection. But there are external factors that can increase the odds of contracting a UTI including:
not drinking enough water, preventing the bladder from flushing out bacteria.
using a diaphragm for birth control
sexual activity, especially with a new partner.
a high-carbohydrates, low-protein diet
a history of kidney stones.
While men can develop UTIs, the vast majority of cases are seen in women. Although the reason for the disparity is not definitively known, the conventional wisdom is that the urethra is significantly shorter in women than men so it’s easier for bacteria to get in the urinary system. Up to half the women in the United States will experience at least one UTI in their lifetime.
Urinary Tract Infections Symptoms
Symptoms of UTIs include frequent and/or painful urination, the feeling of a full bladder even though it isn’t, cloudy or bloody urine, low back or abdominal pain. While the medical literature states that not everyone who contracts a UTI will experience symptoms and that the severity of those symptoms will vary with each individual, most women report extreme discomfort and pain. Some call it comparable—or worse—than childbirth.
The most common treatment for UTIs is a course of antibiotics to kill off the bacteria. And it is important to seek treatment. Unlike a cold that will run its course, an untreated UTI can lead to serious health issues. But the growing resistance of bacteria in general to antibiotics after decades of overprescribing improper use of the drugs has led to a troubling rise in the frequency of antibiotic-resistant UTIs, going from 3 percent in 2000 to 17 percent in 2010. Making matters worse is that studies suggest that women who are prone to UTIs often take antibiotics as a prophylactic, which will quickly exacerbate bacterial drug resistance.
Urinary Tract Infection Treatment
Out of necessity the medical community began looking at more homeopathic approaches to both prevent and shorten the duration of UTIs. So, a researcher at the University of Bergen in Norway conducted an experiment with women prone to chronic UTIs and found that acupuncture both reduced the severity of UTIs and also reduced the re-infection rate by more than 50 percent in the six months following treatment. Specifically, the acupuncture reduced the amount of residual urine in the bladder. If the bladder isn’t completely emptied, bacteria can more easily infect the bladder and urinary tract.
Considering that many women suffer from recurring urinary tract infections as often as every few months, preventing the need to constantly take antibiotics is crucial to long-term wellness. No drug is completely benign and taking antibiotics for an extended period of time disrupts the normal balance of intestinal microorganisms that are integral for digestive health as well as for immune function. That’s why it’s highly suggested to take probiotic supplements whenever taking antibiotics. It’s also recommended to drink a lot of fluids to help flush bacteria out of the urethra, especially unsweetened cranberry juice because its acidity can slow bacterial growth.
Urinary Tract Infections Treatment with Acupuncture
As for why acupuncture is able to prevent infection, there are two perspectives. Medical researchers believe the procedure helps patients completely empty the bladder when going to the bathroom. When residual urine is left in the bladder, it increases the chances of infection by creating an environment where bacteria can collect and flourish. Holistic healers believe that acupuncture helps maintain a strong immune system and creates balance among the body’s systems.
The important point is that research shows acupuncture to be an effective, noninvasive, healthy way to keep UTIs at bay while also promoting overall wellness. So, call your practitioner today to set up a treatment. Your body, mind, and bladder will thank you.
For more information on how acupuncture can help your urinary tract infection, contact Accurate Acupuncture Our experienced acupuncturists can help you determine the best course of treatment.
If you’re ready to begin or have any questions, complete our contact form today or call us at 928-274-1980.