Urologic Care

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Urologic care deals with the male and female urinary tract, including kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Urology also handles the male reproductive organs including the penis, testes, scrotum, and prostate (1). It is important to maintain good urologic health in order to avoid infections and diseases in these areas. Common infections include kidney stones, urinary tract infections, prostate problems, and bladder control problems.

Common Urologic Problems
Kidney stone symptoms include sharp pain in the back, side, lower abdomen, or groin and blood in the urine. Doctors may treat kidney stones by removing them or breaking them into small pieces. Drinking water, changing your diet, and taking certain medicines can help prevent kidney stones (2).

Urinary tract infections (UTI) are most often found in women, and are caused by bacteria from the bowel that reach the urethra and bladder. They can also happen in men, and are usually a result of problems such as an enlarged prostate, that restrict urine flow. The feeling of burning from urination is a common symptom of a UTI. Antibiotics and drinking lots of fluids can help with a urinary tract infection (3).

Urinary incontinence (UI) is the loss of bladder control, which can result in the accidental leakage of urine. Women who experience this may lose urine while coughing or running. Both men and women can experience urgency incontinence, which is the feeling of a strong, sudden need to urinate just before losing urine. UI can range from being slightly annoying to completely disabling. Behavioral and lifestyle changes like stopping smoking, bladder training, and urgency suppression are a few ways medical professionals might treat UI (4).

Prostate enlargement (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia) is a condition in men where the prostate gland is enlarged but not cancerous. It mainly occurs in older men and the cause is not well understood. It is important for men to begin getting regular prostate exams when they turn 40 or 50. Treatments include lifestyle changes, medications, minimally invasive procedures, and surgery (5).

The Do’s and Don’ts of Urologic Health
Urinary system issues account for more than 9 million doctor visits each year (6). Here are a few steps you can take to maintain healthy urologic health.

Do:
1. Drink plenty of water. Water helps your body keep a normal urinary pattern. It also removes any waste products that could be in your system (6).
2. Urinate and clean yourself before and after sex. Bacteria builds up in the urinary tract during sex, which can lead to Urinary tract infections (7).
3. Wipe from front to back to avoid bacteria from the anus coming into contact with the vagina (8).
4. Shower after swimming in pools or lakes to avoid infection
5. Keep a healthy weight. The heavier you are, the more pressure on your bladder. (8).

Don’t:
1. Wait too long to use the bathroom, as withholding urination can put pressure on your bladder and cause an infection (6).
2. Consume foods and drinks that can irritate the bladder such as carbonated, caffeinated, and alcoholic drinks and foods with too much sodium (6). Salt can make you retain water.
3. Use harsh soaps that can irritate your body (6).
4. Smoke. Smoking can increase the risk of bladder cancer and can also irritate the bladder and trigger it to dump urine.
5. Get constipated. Keep your bowels running smoothly with fiber and fluids that can support the bladder as well (8).

When to See a Urologist
It is important to see a urologist as soon as you notice that something is wrong. Men should be sure to see a urologist if they exhibit any aspect of male infertility, have an abnormal prostate exam, discover blood in the urine, or if they find a testicular mass or experience persistent testicular pain (9). Women should consider seeing a urologist if they have frequent urges to urinate, leaking urine, blood in the urine, pain in the side or back, and pain or burning during urination. Women might also consider seeing a urogynecologist, who specializes in treating bladder control problems and other female reproductive system and urinary tract conditions (10).

Health Remedies
Those who suffer urologic problems may benefit from certain herbal remedies. Saw palmetto, pygeum bark, and stinging nettle are three ingredients that may aid urologic conditions, particularly BPH.

Researchers believe that saw palmetto has an anti-inflammatory effect on the prostate which can help control frequent or accidental urination. A study reported in Complementary Therapies in Medicine states that pygeum bark, when mixed with other types of remedies, can help reduce the urge to urinate. Stinging nettle eases the symptoms of BPH such as reduced urinary flow, incomplete emptying of the bladder, post urination dripping, and the constant urge to urinate (11). Furthermore, when mixed with other natural remedies, specifically saw palmetto, stinging nettle may be even more effective.

Cranberry extract has been used to reduce the risk of UTIs and urinary problems in many people. Cranberry juice can be an effective prophylaxis against UTI’s as well, though are often too high in sugar. Research revealed that cranberries contain the proanthocyanidins, which bind to bacteria and prevent it from sticking to the bladder wall, making it easier for bacteria to be flushed out. This stops a UTI from starting (12). Taking probiotic supplements like Lactobacilli can help promote healthy vaginal flora. Probiotic strains Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus Reuteri RC-14 are specifically known for reducing risks of infections from bacteria like yeast to the vagina and the risk of overall bladder infections. Combined, cranberry and probiotics have been shown to prevent bacteria from travelling to the urethra, where infections often occur, and allow beneficial bacteria to repopulate the microbiomes (13).

References

  1. What is Urology? https://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/what-is-urology Accessed December 27, 2017
  2. Kidney Stones https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/kidney-stones Accessed December 27, 2017
  3. Bladder Infection (Urinary Tract Infection—UTI) in Adults https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/bladder-infection-uti-in-adults Accessed December 27, 2017
  4. Bladder Control Problems in Women (Urinary Incontinence) https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/bladder-control-problems-women Accessed December 27, 2017
  5. Prostate Enlargement (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia) https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/prostate-problems/prostate-enlargement-benign-prostatic-hyperplasia Accessed December 27, 2017
  6. 5 Tips to Keep Your Urinary System Healthy, http://www.ahchealthenews.com/2013/06/06/5-tips-to-keep-your-urinary-system-healthy/ Accessed December 27, 2017
  7. Tips for Keeping Your Urinary System Healthy https://www.verywell.com/tips-for-keeping-your-urinary-system-healthy-3300090 Accessed December 27, 2017
  8. 10 Ways to Keep Your Bladder Healthy http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20486910,00.html#keep-a-healthy-weight-0 Accessed December 27, 2017
  9. 6 Reasons to See Your Urologist https://blogs.webmd.com/mens-health-office/2008/04/6-reasons-to-see-your-urologist.html December 27, 2017
  10. 6 Reasons for Women to See a Urologist https://www.healthgrades.com/conditions/6-reasons-for-women-to-see-a-urologist December 27, 2017
  11. https://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/stinging-nettle
  12. “Stop Those Urinary Tract Infections – Cranberry Juice to the Rescue” http://www.texasurology.com/stop_urinary_tract_infections.html Accessed January 24, 2018
  13. Urologic Health https://wholefoodsmagazine.com/supplements/features-supplements/urologic-health/ Accessed December 29, 2017

Published in WholeFoods Magazine March 2018

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