Bladder and kidney health: What you need to know about alcohol and UTIs

Dr Naomi Newman- Beinart PhD answers some commonly-asked questions about UTIs (urinary tract infections) and explores what we can do to keep them at bay during the festive season

What exactly are UTIs?

A UTI occurs when unwanted bacteria, usually E.coli, enter the urinary tract and get into your bladder. If not treated, the bacteria can get to your kidneys and this can be very serious.

Why do we get UTIs?

There are a few risk factors that can mean you are more likely to get a UTI. These include being female, as women have a shorter urethra than men, so the bacteria don’t have as far to travel to get to your bladder.

Age plays a role too – as women get older, they are more likely to get UTIs due to hormonal changes increasing the risk of bacterial infections

But don’t forget that men get UTIs too! Age is also a major risk factor for men.

This is because the prostate gets bigger as they age, putting pressure on the bladder and urethra. This pressure can prevent the natural flow of urine, leading to the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive.

Another important risk factor that affects both men and women is the amount of alcohol we consume.

If you are prone to UTIs, you may find that even a glass of wine is enough to cause that painful tingle that lets you know that a UTI is on its way.

But let’s face it, many of us want to enjoy a few drinks after a busy week, but we really don’t want to suffer with anything other than the expected hangover the morning after.  

How does alcohol cause a UTI?

Alcohol can cause your urine to become more acidic than normal. This acidity irritates the bladder lining and causes E. coli bacteria to multiply even more quickly than usual.

Now we all know that we ought to try and stay hydrated by drinking water between alcoholic beverages, and some of us may take electrolytes to replace those lost through drinking.

Dehydration can cause headaches, tiredness, dry mouth, and dizziness, to name a few well-known symptoms.

However. It’s also useful to know that dehydration can cause bladder irritation and make the painful symptoms of a UTI even worse.

Research has found links between drinking alcohol and UTIs. Preliminary data from a study in Florida found that drinking alcohol and engaging in sexual activity increased the likelihood of younger women having their first UTI.

Interestingly, the same study found that consumption of caffeinated drinks also increased the likelihood of getting a UTI.

This is useful information when thinking about alcohol and UTIs, as many people swear by a strong coffee the morning after drinking.

But it seems that the best way to try and avoid a UTI is to steer clear from caffeinated drinks to perk you up the next day.

If you’re concerned about UTIs, you need to think about more than just trying to stay hydrated whilst drinking.

You also need to think about protecting your kidneys, urinary tract and bladder.

Your kidneys are part of your urinary tract and they do an amazing job filtering harmful substances out of your blood, including alcohol.

UTIs start in the bladder but can travel to your kidneys. If left untreated, a kidney infection can lead to life-threatening problems such as sepsis.

Mindful drinking should not lead to any long-term kidney issues. However, binge drinking, or frequent drinking, can cause kidney problems such as acute kidney injury.

To recover from a UTI you need your urinary system to be in the best possible working order, and any kidney problems are likely to slow your recovery time and increase the likelihood of recurrent UTIs.

Even if you don’t get UTIs regularly, once you are a woman over 30 or a man over 45, it’s worth thinking about what you can do to reduce your risk of having UTIs as you get older.

And if you are already prone to UTIs, you will want to do what you can to help keep your bladder in tip-top shape before and after a night out.

URALIX is a natural, antibiotic-free supplement for long term bladder support and urinary health.

URALIX capsules contain a well-researched blend of natural ingredients that have been found to reduce inflammation of the bladder plus prevent E. coli sticking to the wall of the bladder.

If you are prone to UTIs, try taking four URALIX capsules before drinking alcohol, four capsules after drinking and four capsules the morning after.

“URALIX contains a powerful blend of turmeric, boswellia, pumpkin seed and green tea extract as well as D-mannose, which are clinically proven to exert a natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activity without the nasty side effects of antibiotics,” says nutritionist Shona Wilkinson.

“Strengthening the bladder affected by recurring UTIs can take time, when taken daily, it can protect our delicate urinary tract.”

Self-employed Sarah Jamieson, who is based in Perth, has finally found respite from UTIs.

“I’ve suffered with UTIs for a number of years,” says Sarah, 35.

“Antibiotics cleared them up but they always came back. 

“It was especially susceptible to UTIs after sex, and seemed to be on endless courses of antibiotics.”

“Based on clinical research showing the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activity of its ingredients, URALIX could help prevent urinary symptoms when taken before and after sexual activity,” says Dr. Gemma Newman – MBBCH DRCOG DFSRH MRCGP.

“The natural ingredients could also support other aspects of bladder and urinary tract health too.” 

“I even tried Chinese medicine – but they were not good long term as they had side effects like feeling lethargic and you had to take so many every day that it was disruptive for my digestion,

Sarah, who was independently interviewed

“I was taking standard antibiotic courses that last three days, which I took repeatedly but the UTIs kept coming back.

“I was reluctant to keep seeing a GP when I knew what the problem was and I was also aware that it’s not a good idea to take antibiotics long term.

“I also tried D-mannose and cranberry tablets but you end up taking 10 a day- too many tablets!

“I saw feature in press about URALIX and thought I would give it a try. It works really well and is easily digestible.

“I like that it is completely natural and I take it every day to keep UTIs at bay.

“Since I don’t get UTIs anymore life has been so much better. I can get a good night’s sleep and don’t have to worry about travelling too far from home. 

“I would highly recommend it to anyone.”

Dr. Naomi Newman-Beinart, PhDNutritionist (BSc) & Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol) (PhD)

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