Cystitis and antibiotics, It’s a complex relationship
It’s great to feel certain especially when it comes to your body and your health. Feeling like you can get all the answers from a doctor or a pill is reassuring. It’s also reasonable to want fast relief from a painful condition, like cystitis. Burning, frequent peeing, tummy pressure and even a fever — who doesn’t want to get rid of these as soon as possible? But, there are many reasons why it’s beneficial to take a longer view.
Conventional medical practices rely on the idea that we understand the human body and conditions that affect it. We want to isolate an infection, apply a treatment and carry on. However, the body acts as a whole system with millions of tiny reactions taking place inside it all the time. We may never be able to understand all of them and how they interact with each other. There is no way to isolate one system from another.
Is it possible for us to act in the best interests of our health without knowing everything? Is there even a reason to look outside the conventional treatments that are already on offer? Here we focus on how these issues and questions relate to cystitis but you could apply the same information to many health conditions.
The unintended side effects
Some of the most exciting developments in medicine today centre on the microbiome. Your microbiome is the community of bacteria that lives inside your body. It is unique to you. Your blend of bacteria is essential for the optimal functioning of your immune system, your digestive system and your body as a whole. Modern life, eating habits and some medical treatments tend to have a negative effect on your microbiome. This leads to a greater occurrence of several issues, including cystitis.
If you’ve ever had a UTI (urinary tract infection), you’ll know that prescribing antibiotics is the first action that many doctors take. The problem with this is that antibiotics can have unintended effects on your whole system as they don’t target the problem area alone. Both the infection and the treatment leave your system weakened and it can’t always recover without support. This means you are more likely to experience a recurrence of your infection. Many women suffer from repeated UTIs, such as cystitis and thrush, and the use of antibiotics could be a contributing factor to the recurrence of these infections.
The wider problem
We are not alone in the world. The health of each individual can have an effect on our collective wellness. We see the results of this when we look at herd immunity, for example. People who are not immune benefit from the health of the community. We share air, spaces, surfaces and so, bacteria all the time. One consequence of this is accelerated resistance to antibiotics. This is where harmful bacteria adapt to antibiotics and so the antibiotics become ineffective against them.
It has been common practice to put women on antibiotics at the first hint of cystitis. We don’t wait for test results to come through or allow the body to heal by itself. This is because the consequences of advanced infections are serious enough for early treatment to seem sensible. This casual use of medication means antibiotic resistance is particularly high when it comes to UTIs. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends limiting the use of antibiotics. They consider overuse to be a threat to global health.
A new approach
All of this indicates that we need a new approach. Studies show that delaying treatment in mild cases of cystitis can lead to recovery or relief from symptoms in 70% of cases within a week. Of course, this is in consultation with a medical professional. There should also be no existing issues like diabetes, kidney problems or other health conditions. The body has an amazing capacity to heal itself if we allow it to do so.
Some might argue that there is a risk of complications if conventional treatment is delayed. This is true but we have to balance this against other factors. How much greater will the risk be if we are no longer able to treat UTIs with antibiotics when it is necessary? It stands to reason that repeated UTIs increase the risk as well. The likelihood of complications gets higher the more often you experience cystitis.
What else can we do?
Sometimes we have to try out new and often radical ideas to find solutions that work. After all, innovation is the way to discovery. Often the solutions are all around us. We may not know how to treat every ailment without negatively affecting the body at the same time, but we do know what some harmful conditions need to thrive. If we use natural remedies for cystitis, the likelihood of unpredictable side effects is lower. Diet and supplement use can also be preventative.
When it comes to cystitis, drinking more water is an excellent first step. The body needs water to work well and most of us are under-hydrated. When that happens, the body makes the best use of the water available. This often neglects systems that are not immediately essential for survival, like the bladder.
Probiotics can also be useful for preventing cystitis. Anything that supports the microbiome will help, which means both probiotics and prebiotics. An easy first step is to incorporate fermented foods and drinks into a normal, healthy diet. Many supermarkets are now stocking fermented foods in response to increased awareness of microbiome health. Probiotics and prebiotics are also available at most chemists and health food stores. Taken regularly, they support general health. They can also make a difference when taken alongside a course of antibiotics as they can ease some of the strain on the body.
In recent years, studies have focused on a sugar called D-mannose. The bacteria E. coli is the cause of most UTIs. It attaches itself to sugars in the walls of the urinary tract. When D-mannose is present, the bacteria attach to this instead. This prevents infection from taking hold. A long-term course of D-mannose can therefore help treat recurrent cystitis without the side effects caused by antibiotics.
We’re always learning and continuing to investigate our amazing bodies. Healing is a lifelong process in response to the general wear and tear that our bodies experience on a daily basis. It is not just something we do when we are sick. Taking a holistic approach to the body respects the fact that everything is connected. We may not know exactly how we will react so we build our self-awareness about the whole system. This can work separately and in conjunction with conventional medicine.
Cystitis is usually a mild, albeit painful, sign that the whole body needs attention, not just the elimination system. Responding to this signal in a way that encompasses immediate and long-term health can have a positive impact on your wellbeing.
To discover more about putting cystitis behind you and getting your health back on track the natural way, visit our learning centre.