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Avoiding Urinary Tract Infections

By on May 1, 2019

When It’s Time to Go, Be Sure to Stop

BY: DR. JOHN McELLIGOTT, DR. JOHN’S MEDICAL SOLUTIONS

While researching for a Highway to Health segment on urinary tract infections (UTIs) with Clair Marie and hosted by Dave Nemo, Road Dog Trucking Radio, SiriusXM® 146, I came across some interesting facts.

Sometimes called the “Salesman’s Disease,” UTIs can result from long hours sitting behind the wheel and not stopping to urinate when nature issues its first call. Sound familiar? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), urinary tract infections are one of the most common types, and antibiotics are usually helpful.

I asked myself, “What did we do before antibiotics?” Well, most of the so-called “remedies” were not very pleasant and did not work. These treatments included bleeding, douches, plaster, and anti-inflammatory plants and herbs. The latter treatment sounds like a possible effective treatment and may have led to the end point of this article. But let’s first look at the numbers, especially in truckers.

Statistically Speaking

According to the Federal Government, there are approximately 3.6 million Class A CDL holders, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that the most recent count has women constituting just 5.1 percent. While both men and women are susceptible to UTIs, there are different mechanisms involved, possibly requiring different approaches to treatment. In male and female drivers, the biggest difference is the presence of a prostate gland in men and, plainly speaking, the anatomy with women. When it comes to UTIs, these are very important factors on my side of the fence as a doctor.

Based on percentages, infections occur more frequently in women than men. Why? Well, the vagina can be a challenge to keep clean and dry. Since the urethra is located at the top of the vaginal folds, it has a buffer strip that gives the urethra some protection. However, children and older women sometimes leak or do not wipe in the proper direction after urination (front to back). The rectum and vagina are located in very close proximity to one another. Bacteria can move back and forth more easily than in men. This can cause more bouts of urethritis, the lower urinary tract infection/inflammation, which burns when urinating. This infection can be followed by cystitis, causing painful urination, urinary tract inflammation, and urination urgency. If left untreated, UTIs can lead to the “big infection” which is nephritis or kidney inflammation/infection.

While women get most of the grief when it comes to UTIs, men get their share when it comes to prostate problems. National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that 50 percent of men will experience prostatitis during their lifetimes. Prostatitis is swelling and inflammation of the prostate gland, a walnut-sized gland situated directly below the bladder. One study reported that 22 percent of men under 40 years of age will have had a UTI, and 60 percent of those over 40 will be affected. Female UTIs, while uncomfortable, are much less serious than prostatitis in men. Prostatitis can develop into prostate gland enlargement, a common condition as men grow older. Also called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostate gland enlargement can cause bothersome urinary symptoms. Untreated, prostate gland enlargement can block the flow of urine out of the bladder and cause bladder, urinary tract and/or kidney problems.

This gland was why the dreaded digital exam was invented. Truckers hate getting a digital exam; it can hurt and can put a dent in one’s dignity. When it doesn’t hurt there’s usually no disease found, except a cancerous tumor which usually doesn’t hurt. The digital exam can help with early diagnosis. So guys, suck it up and have your prostate checked regularly. It may save your life!

Remedies

Getting back to pre-antibiotic remedies, the first effective treatment from ancient times and even today as a preventative agent is water. You say what? Yes, water. What does water do for both men and women? Two liters a day dilutes the urine which means it flushes out the bacteria flora from the tip of the penis and female urethra. Is this better than cranberry juice? Absolutely! Is it better that an antibiotic? Yes, if started early or consumed daily as a preventive measure.

Cranberries and cranberry juice may have some preventative effect, but are still unproven as an effective UTI treatment. The preventive effect of cranberry juice is a theory that we don’t debate with patients, unless they are diabetic. Regular cranberry juice contains too much sugar! If you drink cranberry juice, be sure to look for the sugar-free variety.

Be Proactive

As referenced below, a recently published article appeared in the British Medical Journal, published in the UK. It shows that ibuprofen taken early for UTIs can decrease the overall number of antibiotic prescriptions issued. 

https://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h6544 

If in doubt about your situation, the Telemedicine Program at Dr. John’s Medical Solutions (800-257-9214 or info@docjmd.com) can help you determine the right course of action for treating your UTI problems.

Following are several tips that might help you avoid UTIs:

  • When you have to urinate, stop and urinate.Don’t hold it until the last possible moment.
  • Keep your “nether regions” clean and dry.
  • Drink plenty of liquids, especially water. Drink lots of water. Lots and lots and lots.
  • If you drink cranberry juice, preferably buy sugar-free.
  • Women, wipe from front to back (Too much info… I know, but be warned).
  • Empty your bladder soon after intercourse.
  • Avoid potentially irritating feminine products.
  • Change your birth control method.

One helpful tip for accurate urine testing is to always obtain a “clean-catch” sample or “mid-stream” sample if your symptoms do not improve and testing of your urine becomes necessary. Be sure to refrigerate until the sample can be submitted for testing. And finally, when it’s time to go, be sure to stop.

About Warren Eulgen

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