The festive season is usually a time for love, happiness, fun, family, friends and food. When it comes to someone with a chronic UTI, it can also be the season for unwelcome UTI flare-ups. Flares occur when bacteria embedded in the bladder wall become active (planktonic) and start to multiply in the urine, resulting in increased symptoms. Flare-ups can be triggered by a variety of things—the most commonly reported being stress (good and bad), sex, vigorous exercise, internal gynaecological procedures, bowel movements, drinking alcohol and consuming certain foods that individuals are sensitive to. Christmastime should be added to the list because it seems to be an extremely common time to experience flares, no matter where you live in the world. To help minimise the risk of a flare-up ruining your holidays, we asked people with chronic UTI to share their best prevention tips. This is what they told us.
Jenny is a young Italian woman who was suddenly struck with a streptococcus infection causing acute bladder and vaginal pain and burning. Despite being treated, and tests confirming the infection had cleared, her symptoms worsened and her health was in decline. After a year she was diagnosed with vulvodynia and fibromyalgia and prescribed a treatment that took the edge off her symptoms. Feeling despair and let down by standard medical treatments that left her still extremely unwell, she turned to a dietician who introduced her to a natural approach to healing systemic body inflammation and strengthen the immune system. A year on, Jenny no longer suffers her dreadful symptoms and is back to leading a normal life. You can read more about Jenny's experience here.
A simple bout of cystitis changed Michelle's life. She went from being a happy, productive member of society, to someone who suffered relentless UTI symptoms that prevented her from working, socialising with friends and family and having a normal sexual relationship with her partner. If that wasn't enough, she had become a burden to the healthcare system as well. She was quickly written-off by her specialists as being a depressed, menopausal woman with interstitial cystitis. Her diagnosis was terribly wrong and she knew it. Michelle kept digging and found a specialist who understands chronic, embedded urinary infections. After being properly diagnosed and treated for her hidden infection, she experienced relief within weeks. And after 11 months of continued treatment, she is completely symptom-free. You can read more about Michelle's chronic UTI story here.
After suffering from recurrent UTIs for 60 years, getting through each day had become unbearable for Wendy. Her recurrent UTIs had become so unmanageable, she was living in constant pain with urinary symptoms that had her visiting the toilet up to 50 times a day. Along with countless short-course and prophylactic antibiotics, she was offered treatments such as urethral stretches to help manage her symptoms. Wendy was eventually diagnosed with interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome (IC/PBS) and told she would have to learn to live with her painful symptoms. By now, she was battling an ongoing cycle of vaginal thrush and living on pain killers to get through each day. By chance, she stumbled across a UTI specialist who was experienced in treating chronic infections. Within months of starting treatment, she was surprised to find herself symptom-free and once again participating in a life she thought she had lost. Wendy's swift recovery allowed her to return to her beloved lawn bowling competition and she is now competing at a County level. Find out more about Wendy's inspiring story here.
Craig had experienced a urinary tract infection (UTI) before. When he next noticed the tell-tale symptoms of bladder and urethral stinging and frequency, he was confident things would be sorted when he saw his doctor. Craig was wrong. Despite having clear UTI symptoms, his tests came back negative. Still suffering, he was referred to a sexual health clinic where blood and urine tests gave him a clean bill of health. Feeling desperate for relief, Craig introduced some home remedies while waiting for an appointment with a men's health specialist. In the meantime, he managed to see a doctor specialising in chronic and recurrent UTI and other urinary disorders, and was diagnosed with a UTI. After being properly treated, Craig's recovery was rapid. However, when he next experienced familiar UTI symptoms and another negative UTI test, his doctor opted to treat him for a urinary infection still and his symptoms resolved almost immediately. Knowing how greatly others suffer from chronic UTIs, Craig feels fortunate he was able to break the cycle early before his infection became engrained. He knows his outcome could have been completely different had his doctor continued to rely on UTI tests that were unable to identify his infection. You can read more about Craig's experience here.
Christine is a British woman whose recurrent UTIs started at the age of 12. Being prescribed the usual treatments, and offered routine UTI prevention tips and homeopathic remedies, her regular infections persisted. After complications brought on from successful breast cancer treatment, her recurring UTIs became worse and began dominating her life. Now out of options, Christine's practitioner referred her to a specialist clinic for recalcitrant UTIs based in London. Here she was diagnosed immediately with a chronic UTI. Her severe embedded UTI has required several changes in antibiotic therapy to bring her symptoms under control. Now that her infection is being properly managed and she's feeling better, she is cautiously optimist about completing treatment in the near future. You can read more about Christine's story here.