Oh the (sarcastic) joy of spinal issues! As if the pain, buzzing, shooting, and numbness isn’t enough an annoyance lets tack on how it can affect the bladder.Having my third UTI in six months this is getting to be a tiring dance. With a bladder than both wont empty and leaks its microbial mayhem down there. As my first stint with antibiotics for a resistant UTI gave me a crash course in the dangers of Fluoroquinolones that I have no desire to repeat I have been extra cautious. Right down to scalding soaks for my undergarments and still the issue crops up. The last two I have been lucky and vigilant enough to catch early. It’s said over 80% of UTI’s are caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli) which brings to me back to a dear friend in D-Mannose.

D-Mannose is a Monosaccharide a type of sugar which may seem counter intuitive to administer in the case of infection. But the important function of this sugar is its ability to bind to E. coli and a few other types of bacteria preventing them from adhering to the tissue of the bladder walls. If they cant stick they cant thrive, multiply, and infect so you harmlessly urinate them out. How cool is that trick! With an 80% chance of success a worthwhile endeavor if this issue is a pesky repeater for you. Many know the “cranberry juice mantra” of UTI’s what you may not know is that D-Mannose is the active component your after in all that tangy juice.

If caught in the early stages of a UTI you can sometimes prevent the need for antibiotic use entirely. If not it can still be soothing to the bladder reducing pain and other symptoms while antibiotics tackle the issue. I still confirm by requesting a urine culture from my doctor but thus far I have been in the clear from requiring further treatment. Caveat is that as far as the pain is concerned it can take one to two days to bring relief. So I do keep phenazopyridine (OTC Azo Pain or Rx Pyridium) on hand to bide my time and be able to function and sleep while I await the effects.

Now this doesn’t count as medical advice as “big brother” doesn’t like that but in my personal experience you may find helpful here is how I choose to use D-Mannose. At first signs of a UTI such as urgency, burning, pain, odor, or cloudy urine I begin taking 1/2 teaspoon mixed in liquid of choice every 4 hours during the daytime. As per label instructions you can take a full teaspoon though I find half adequate. With my delayed gastric emptying (gastroparesis) I find supplements work best in divided doses.

I continue on that course for four days then reassess my symptoms at that time. Have I been able to stop the phenazopyridine? Am I still experiencing pain, odor, or clouding? If such symptoms have persisted I relent and request a urine culture and await consultation with my doctor for treatment. If not I discontinue use, request a urine culture for confirmation, and go about my life remaining vigilant for any sign of recurrence.

If while your awaiting remission or treatment you still have pain a few other supplements might help bring you comfort to get you through such as slippery elm, marshmallow root, and deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL). Alas though I have been lucky with the last two its sure to be a continuing saga until which time I receive proper evaluation and treatment for the complications of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. I hope in my waiting and experimenting to share information that can be of help and bring relief to others in the medical minefield of rare disorders and their complications.

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