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Can Probiotics Cause UTIs?

People with recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be quite miserable, and many have entered a vicious cycle of getting the infection, taking an antibiotic to clear it up, but then getting another UTI within weeks or months. So naturally they are looking for solutions to break out of the cycle. Probiotics have come to the attention of both the medical field and the average person in recent years as they seek a possible support to health overall and infections specifically. But can probiotics cause UTI or other infections instead of helping fight them? The short answer is yes – in extremely rare cases, as in one in a million. However, the other 999,999,999 times, adding a probiotic to a health regimen is undoubtedly beneficial. In perspective, the odds of an individual getting struck by lightning in their lifetime is about 1 in 15,300, so adding probiotics to one’s life is much less risky than being near a thunderstorm!

Introducing Probiotics Into the Fray

Several ways of introducing probiotics into a person’s battle against persistent UTIs would include consuming probiotic-rich foods (yogurt, kombucha, kefir, and other fermented foods), taking probiotic capsules, or using a probiotic suppository for UTI. At least one study has demonstrated that such a suppository can reduce recurrence of UTI by up to 85%. As one of the most common infections in people of all age groups, the UTI is often caused by the bacteria E. coli entering the urinary tract. The most common symptoms can include frequent urination, a burning sensation or pain during urination, low-grade fever and changes in the appearance of the urine (blood-tinged or cloudy). Most frequently diagnosed in women, UTIs can be behaviorally induced or physiologically based:

• Sexual activity can force bacteria into the vagina and/or urethra
• Poor post-urination or post-defecation wiping habits that spread bacteria from the anus into the vagina
• Upset in vaginal flora due to stress, changes in diet, or antibiotic use
• Urinary tract blockage or abnormality

Probiotics and UTI Prevention

Although scientists and doctors are still not sure exactly why or how probiotics function when they encounter E. coli or other infectious agents, they have two main ideas. First, that in the presence of abundant good bacteria, the infection-causing bacteria cannot get comfortable and take hold. The other possibility is that the good bacteria may actually kill off the bad bacteria. Either way – or if there are mechanisms still to be discovered – the evidence still seems to indicate that a probiotic such as L. acidophilus for UTI will be helpful in reducing recurrent infections and, even better, reducing dependence upon antibiotics to combat the infections. A person’s overall health may even be enhanced by adding probiotics.

Think PRObiotics, Reduce ANTIbiotics

While there is some evidence as mentioned before that probiotics cause UTI in a statistically insignificant number of cases, there is far more consensus that probiotics are beneficial in keeping the UTI from coming back for a visit. Additional steps can be taken to guard against recurrence of infection:

• Drink cranberry juice and plenty of water – this appears to help flush out bad bacteria.
• Urinate soon after sexual activity to cleanse the urinary tract.
• Avoid irritating substances (powders and douches) and mechanical birth control (diaphragms and some condoms) – these can all contribute to bacterial growth.
• Boost the immune system with plenty of rest and exercise and, of course, a healthy diet.

Stepping up efforts to fight off UTIs can be useful in breaking the infectious cycle. Talk to a healthcare provider and research recommended probiotics to gain control and return to the freedom of life without infection.

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