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Cesarean Section May Not Prevent Incontinence

Vaginal delivery has been thought to cause urinary incontinence through physical trauma and damage to nerves as such there is a suggestion that women who choose c-section over vaginal delivery might be protecting themselves against urinary or fecal incontinence down the road.

This might not be necessarily true according to the findings of a recent study.  Dr. Cathryn Glazener of the University of Aberdeen in the UK and her colleagues tracked almost 4,000 women who gave birth in the UK and New Zealand for 12 years after their delivery.

The researchers recorded how the first babies were delivered and kept in touch with the women through questionnaires to find out if they had more children and whether those children were born through c- sections or vaginal deliveries.  They also asked the participants if they had symptoms of urinary or fecal incontinence and if so, how often.

In women who had given birth only through vaginal delivery, 55% reported experiencing urinary incontinence compared to 59% of women who had at least one baby through vaginal delivery and one baby through c-section. In women who only had c-section, 40% reported experiencing urinary incontinence.

Regardless of how they delivered their children, women who were heavier, had given birth more times, and were older at their first delivery reported higher rates of incontinence.

Recent evidence shows that the rate of C-sections performed in the U.S. has been rising, from one in five births in 1996 to almost one in three births in 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many doctors see this trend as risky because C-sections have been linked to a higher chance of breathing problems in babies and future pregnancy complications in moms.

Glazner and her colleagues concluded that, “Unless women are resolved to have all their deliveries by the abdominal (c-section) route (and their medical advisors agree), cesarean section does not protect from subsequent” urinary incontinence.

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More Boys Wet Their Beds Than Girls

Researchers from the Prince of Wales Hospital at the Chinese University of Hong Kong had parents of about 3,000 girls and 3,100 boys ages six to eleven years old fill out questionnaires on how often their kids wet their beds.

The researchers found-

*  5 in 100 kids wet their beds at night

* 7 out of 100 boys wet their beds at least once a month compared to 3 out of 100 girls

* 9 out of 100 six year olds wet their beds versus 2 out of 100 eleven year olds

Commenting on the study is Dr. Joseph Barone, pediatric urologist at the Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He said “Bedwetting is hereditary in 4 out of 10 cases.  Sometimes the link between the bladder and the brain isn’t fully developed yet and more boys than girls tend to be bedwetters because girls mature faster.  By age 15, 99% of kids outgrow bedwetting.”

He added, “In most children, the best way to cure bedwetting is to use an alarm. This is a sensor in a child’s underwear, which goes off when it gets wet. It’s connected to an alarm on a wristband or next to their head. The alarm systems are considered the first choice, and they work 80 to 90 percent of the time if used properly.  If this doesn’t work, there are also medications, such as desmopressin acetate (known as DDAVP) or imipramine. However, these do have side effects, and they are a treatment, not a cure.”

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Intravaginal Suppository Probiotic May Reduce Rate of Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections

The results of a new study suggest that probiotic may reduce the rate of recurrent urinary tract infections in women prone to these infections.

There is a theory that a depletion of vaginal lactobacilli, a type of bacteria, is associated with urinary tract infection risk, which suggests that replenishing this bacteria may be beneficial.

A double blind placebo controlled trial to investigate this theory was conducted.  In the study, young women with a history of recurrent urinary tract infections received antibiotics for acute urinary tract infections. They were then randomized to receive either a Lactobacillus crispatus intravaginal suppository probiotic, called LACTIN-V, or a placebo for five days, then once a week for 10 weeks. Fifty women out of the 100 women who participated in the study received LACTIN-V, and 50 received the placebo.  Seven of the women who received LACTIN-V had at least one urinary tract infection, compared to 13 in the placebo group.

Study author Ann Stapleton, MD, of the University of Washington in Seattle said “Larger efficacy trials of this novel preventive method for recurrent urinary tract infections are warranted to determine if use of vaginal Lactobacillus could replace long term antimicrobial preventive treatments.”

Urinary tract infections are more comment in women which frequently recurs affecting 2 to 3 percent of all women.  In United States alone, cost to treat these infections is estimated at $2.5 billion in year 2000.

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Dietary Supplements No Impact on Bladder Cancer

A large U.S. study shows that at this time taking any supplements to prevent bladder cancer cannot be recommended.

This new results are based from a study of more than 77,000 older men and women in Washington State, who had filled out a detailed questionnaire about their health, diet and supplement intake at the outset of the study.  Over the following six years, 330 people developed bladder cancer.  Whether or not they reported taking dietary supplements had no impact on their risk, after accounting for age, smoking, fruit and vegetable intake and other factors.

Dr. James Hotaling of the University Of Washington School Of Medicine in Seattle and his colleagues who worked on the study and looked at a wide range of substances, including multivitamins, several B vitamins, vitamin C, D, and E, calcium, magnesium, zinc, glucosamine, ginkgo biloba, fish oil and garlic.

Hotaling said “the number of patients who take these supplements is extremely high and supplements have become a million-dollar industry but there is not a lot of data to show that these supplements make a difference”.

“If eating extra vitamins actually protected against the disease it would not only save lives but also a lot of money”, he added.  Patients with bladder cancer require repeated checkups to ensure the cancer doesn’t return after they’ve had surgery.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), about one in 26 American men and one in 84 women get bladder cancer.

ACS does not recommend using supplements to prevent cancer.

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Acupuncture and Interstitial Cystitis

Interstitial cystitis (IC), also known as painful bladder symptom is a chronic condition characterized by pelvic pain, urinary frequency, urgency and sexual dysfunction.

Both men and women can get IC, although it occurs mostly in women.  People with IC can have symptoms similar to a urinary tract infection, but without an infection.  Often, there is painful, frequent, urgent, inhibited, or incomplete urination.    Sometimes there may be blood in the urine.  There may be a dull feeling of fullness in the lower abdomen and bladder.   The pain in the bladder can be intense or dull, and sometimes it is located in the pelvis, or on the pelvic floor.

No simple treatment exists to eliminate the signs and symptoms of interstitial cystitis, and no one treatment works for everyone. One may need to try various treatments or combinations of treatments before it can find an approach that relieves the symptoms.

One complementary and alternative therapy that has shown some promise in treating interstitial cystitis is acupuncture.

During an acupuncture session, a practitioner places numerous thin needles in the skin at specific points on the body.

Traditional Chinese medicine works by identifying specific imbalances in the body and using acupuncture to correct them. The exact pattern and degree of imbalance is unique to each individual. The traditional acupuncturist’s skill lies in identifying the precise nature of the underlying disharmony and selecting the most effective treatment. The choice of acupuncture points will be specific to each patient’s needs.

Physiologically, acupuncture helps to reduce the symptoms of interstitial cystitis by decreasing inflammation, releasing pain relieving chemicals in the nervous system, and decreasing muscle spasm.  Correcting the imbalance does not just treat the symptoms or mask the condition, but rather corrects the root of the problem by encouraging self-healing of the body and rebalancing the flow of life energy.

The results of acupuncture are cumulative over a series of treatments.  Once the imbalance is corrected, the body can work to heal itself and can result in long lasting benefit.

Western medical practitioners tend to believe that acupuncture boosts the activity of your body’s natural painkillers. From a biomedical viewpoint, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system, influencing the production of the body’s communication substances – hormones and neurotransmitters. The resulting biochemical changes activate the body’s self-regulating homeostatic systems, stimulating its natural healing abilities and promoting physical and emotional well being.

This treatment has not been well-studied for interstitial cystitis, so be sure to discuss the use of this therapy with your doctor.

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Vitamin D: The Super Vitamin

One of the most underappreciated, yet most crucial, vitamins is the sunshine vitamin:  vitamin D.  Besides protecting our bodies from cancer, obesity, autoimmune diseases, and cardiovascular problems, vitamin D helps build strong bones.  And now scientists have found that this remarkable vitamin has a significant impact on the immune system.  It turns out that vitamin D is necessary for the production of anti-microbial peptides, which are substances that fight off infection-causing bacteria, fungi, and viruses when these pathogens try to move into organs and through mucous membranes.

Previous research has indicated that with adequate amounts of vitamin D, the flu, colds, and serious lung infections, including tuberculosis, may be kept at bay.  Now Swedish researchers from the Karolinska Institute and Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm have evidence that higher vitamin D levels offer especially strong protection against another common health problem—urinary tract infections (UTIs).

The new study was published in the journal PLoS One.  “In the light of the rapidly growing problem of resistance to common urinary tract antibiotics, we suggest that vitamin D may be a potential complement in the prevention of UTI.  Determining the vitamin D status of individuals with a history of UTI may be of importance to evaluate their ability to fend off intruding bacteria,” stated scientists in PLoS One.

The urinary tract is frequently exposed to infection-causing agents and has a built-in, rapid defense system.  When pathogens threaten, cathelicidin, an antimicrobial peptide, is expressed.  However, the immune system must be healthy in order to do so.  The peptide is actually secreted by bladder epithelial cells and protects the urinary tract from an infection.

Vitamin D plays a very important role in this process.  According to the Swedish study, vitamin D actually induces cathelicidin in the urinary bladder.  This process occurs when a boost in the antimicrobial peptide is needed during an infection.

These findings mean that vitamin D has a huge advantage over many of the antibiotics prescribed today for urinary tract infections.  When antibiotics are used to treat UTIs, the drugs are harmful for the beneficial bacteria in the gut, leading to other problems.  But vitamin D only produces germ-killing peptides at the site of an infection when needed, leaving “friendly bacteria” totally unharmed.

“By inducing and activating cathelicidin with vitamin D, a local rather than a systemic effect can be achieved.  This could offer selective and site-specific treatment of pathogens without perturbing commensal [friendly] microbes elsewhere in the body,” state the scientists.

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Do the Baharya Pranayama for Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence may be painless, but it can often be a frustrating, embarrassing condition to live with.  And this condition, along with similar conditions, may worsen with age.

As our bodies age, muscle tone in the lower uterus and the bladder are some of the first to deplete.  This oftentimes leads to incontinence, especially as the bladder weakens.  In order to increase the muscle in these areas, try to make Pranayama part of your daily exercise routine.  Baharya Pranayama particularly addresses the problems of weak uterine and urinary bladder muscles.

If you are new to Baharya Pranayama, you may begin with doing the steps below three times daily.  You may increase the number of times very gradually; however, at no time should the practice be done more than 15 times daily.

Steps:

  1. Put a mat on an even floor
  2. Sit on the mat in the Lotus position
  3. Keep your head, neck, and body erect (in a straight line)
  4. Begin by closing your eyes and breathing in and out calmly and deeply
  5. Take one deep breath in (inhale) to the count of four
  6. Exhale totally and completely to the count of six
  7. Pull up your pelvic muscles and close your anus—this lock is termed Mooladhar Bandha
  8. In quick succession, follow this up by pulling in your navel so that you draw your stomach and abdomen toward your spine.  Pull up your abdomen toward the lower chest—this lock is termed Udiyaan Bandha
  9. Slowly bring your chin down to rest on your chest—this lock is called the Jalandhar Bandha
  10. Hold on to this position to the count of six or until you are comfortable
  11. Gradually, open the locks starting with the chin, following it up by opening the abdominal lock and lastly undoing the anal/root lock
  12. Inhale slowly and deeply
  13. Steps five through 12 may be repeated three to five times for a beginner slowly working up to 15 repetitions as the weeks pass by

The recommendations for Baharya Pranayama include performing the exercise on an empty stomach with either a very light snack or a glass of water half an hour before the session.  Further, the Baharya should be done either in the morning or in the evening.  Do not perform the exercise if you are suffering from conditions of the heart, high blood pressure (hypertension) or hernia.  The best and safest way to learn Pranayamas is under the guidance of a certified Yoga instructor, Ayurved, or Yogi.  These exercises can be done incorrectly and can prove to be harmful.

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Overly Restrictive Diets May Not be Necessary for Interstitial Cystitis Sufferers

The results of a recent survey revealed that the diets of interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS) patients may not have to be so restrictive.

The aim of the study was to survey IC/BPS patients using an online questionnaire to determine which foods, drinks, supplements/spices, and general food categories truly lead to symptom flare ups.

In order to conduct the study, the Interstitial Cystitis Association posted an online study for ICA’s members to participate.  Members were asked their experiences/effects after consuming 344 different foods, drinks, supplements, condiments/spices, and general food categories.  Mainly, the researchers were interested in the effects on urinary frequency, urgency, and/or pelvic pain symptoms.  Members were asked to score the resulting symptoms due to the consumption of the noted foods using the Likert scale of 0 to 5.  Questions on ethnicity, education, symptom duration, seasonal allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, and specific diets were also included.

Out of the 598 complete responses to the questionnaire, 95.8% relayed that certain foods and beverages do affect their IC/BPS symptoms; however, most items on the list had no effect on the symptoms.

Some items that made symptoms worse were citrus fruits, tomatoes, coffee, tea, carbonated and alcoholic beverages, spicy foods, artificial sweeteners, and vitamin C.

Only two items on the list were reported to help alleviate the symptoms:  calcium glycerophosphate (Prelief) and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).

Although it is recommended that patients with IC/BPS avoid citrus fruits, tomatoes, coffee, tea, carbonated and alcoholic beverages, spicy foods, artificial sweeteners, and vitamin C, the study’s results suggest that interstitial cystitis diets do not have to be overly restrictive.  Further, the use of calcium glycerophosphate or sodium bicarbonate before consumption of the known irritants may also help reduce the symptoms of IC/BPS.

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Bladder Control – You Can Do It

If you’ve been living with overactive bladder (OAB), you may have gotten into the habit of going to the bathroom quite often. You may feel that your life is out of control and being ruled by having a bathroom in close proximity. But with natural bladder control, you can take your life back and restore your self confidence.

In addition to taking your medicine, there are a few more things you can do that may help you gain better control over your bladder. Try the tips below to help retrain your body to:

* Wait longer between bathroom trips

* Do not rush so much when you have a strong urge. Get used to the idea that you actually can wait

* Try to increase your time between bathroom trips. If you go every hour, then try to wait for 1 hour and 15 minutes. When you can wait that long without fear of an accident for 1 or 2 weeks, try to increase the time. Try 15 minutes more at first. Then, little by little, wait longer.

* Stick to your timing as much as you can, whether or not you have to go.

* When you have a strong urge to urinate stop what you’re doing and sit down when you can. When you’re still, it’s easier to control your urge.

* Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles quickly several times. These are the muscles that help you hold urine in.

* Relax the rest of your body. Take a few deep breaths to help you. Let go of your tension.

* Wait until the urge subsides.

* Walk to the bathroom. Don’t rush.

* You can also take some herbs in a homeopathic blend. Using a mixture of soy germ and pumpkin seed extract, a special homeopathic blend can be made that will not only strengthen the weak bladder muscles, but also relax them so that the urge to go is not so frequent.

Having a weak bladder can really put a damper on your enjoyment of life. It can stop you from doing things you would love to do simply because there may not be a bathroom handy. And the constant worry about being embarrassed about your problem can undermine your self confidence and cause you to avoid social situations.

But if you embark on a natural bladder control campaign that combines a good bladder control exercise routine with homeopathic herbs for muscle relaxation and tone, then you may find that you can experience the joy of a spontaneous and fun life once again!

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Alternative Treatments for Interstitial Cystitis

Nearly 1.3 million Americans suffer from interstitial cystitis (IC), and more than 1 million of these victims are women.   This common urological condition causes recurring discomfort or pain in the bladder and the surrounding pelvic region.  Symptoms vary from case to case and may span from mild to severe, but most patients experience discomfort, pressure, tenderness, intense pain in the bladder and pelvic area, or an urgent, frequent need to urinate.  The severity of the pain varies, depending on how full the bladder is.  And many women experience more pain during menstruation and vaginal intercourse.

Given the prevalence of such a frustrating, painful condition, it is no wonder physicians and researchers have spent years trying to find a solution to IC.  As a result, naturopathic treatment has emerged, providing alleviation to IC sufferers.

Naturopathic treatment involves inhibiting the inflammatory process associated with the condition by removing inflammatory and irritating foods from the diet, taking nutritional supplements, and using herbal support.

A healthy diet is important in relieving symptoms.  Foods that cause sensitivities must be eliminated.  Food sensitivities are often the cause of chronic inflammatory conditions.  The diet must also include whole, fresh, unrefined, and unprocessed foods.  This includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts, olive oil, and cold-water fish (such as salmon, tuna, sardines, halibut, and mackerel).  Avoid sugar, dairy products, refined foods, fried foods, junk foods, some beans (like fava, lima, black, and soy) and especially caffeine.  Coffee, chocolate, alcohol, carbonated drinks, citrus fruits, and tomatoes often worsen symptoms.  Finally, drink 50% of your body weight in ounces of water daily in order to flush out any gathered bacteria and maintain a clean system.

Natural supplements are also highly recommended.  Calcium citrate alkalinizes the urine, which decreases irritation to the bladder.  And bromelain provides anti-inflammatory action.  Both of these supplements may be found naturally in foods, but supplements are designed to give the correct doses of these healthy ingredients to successfully alleviate IC symptoms.

In addition to a healthy diet and natural supplements, herbal medicines are also recommended by those practicing naturopathic medicine.  Herbs do not have side effects when used appropriately and at suggested doses.

Gotu kola is suggested to enhance the integrity of connective tissue by stimulating production of glycosaminoglycans, which are an integral component of the protective mucous layer in the bladder.  The recommended dosage is 30 mg of standardized extract triterpenes three times a day.

If you are a tea drinker, then several herbs should be considered.  Buchu is a soothing diuretic and antiseptic for the urinary system.  Cleavers are traditionally used as a urinary tract tonic.  Corn silk has soothing and diuretic properties.  Horsetail is an astringent and mild diuretic with tissue-healing properties.  Usnea has soothing and antiseptic properties.  And marshmallow root has soothing demulcent properties—it is best taken as a cold infusion by soaking the herb in cold water for several hours, straining it, and then drinking.

Only high-quality products should be used if herbal medicine is considered.  Take the recommended dosages for maximum effect, but do not overdose as it can lead to serious illness and death.  Consult your physician or a naturopathic practitioner before beginning any treatment.

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