Urinary Tract Infections or UTIs refer to an infection caused due to the growth of bacteria in the urine. When bacteria moves up and down the urinary tract, it can result in a serious infection with symptoms like chills, nausea, dark colored urine and burning sensation while peeing. UTIs are more common in women than men because the female urinary tract is comparatively smaller. This is why women need to take extra care of them when it comes to UTIs.
While rare occurrence of UTIs is deemed normal, recurrent UTIs in no way are normal. Recurring UTIs affect your upper tract, that is, the fallopian tubes, uterus and the kidneys and increase the risk of infertility.
What are recurrent UTIs?
Gynecologist Dr Rita Bakshi says that recurrent UTIs refer to three episodes of UTIs in a year. It usually affects women who are going through menopause or who are having frequent or infrequent sex. Keeping too much gap between sexual activities can also increase your risk of recurrent UTIs.
How do recurrent UTIs affect fertility in women?
Dr Bakshi says, “Recurrent UTIs have an impact on both male and female fertility. People with recurrent UTIs suffer from symptoms like burning sensation while peeing, dark urine, inability to void the bladder and more. It occurs mainly in people who hold back urine or who maintain an unhygienic environment down there. It also occurs in people who have a tight urethral opening. Now because the urethra and the bladder are located close to the uterus and vagina, the infection travels back and forth from the urethra when you are washing it along with the anal and vaginal tract. So when you wash from back to front, the bacteria from the anal tract an affect the vaginal tract and the urethra. So it is important to wash from front to back so that the infection doesn’t take place.”
“This affects the fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix and the whole pelvic area, thereby resulting in the pelvic inflammatory disease. This disease is characterized by swelling of the organ. Once the organ is swollen, it can lead to infertility.
This, if it happens rarely, will not have an impact on fertility. However, when UTIs are recurrent, it results in infertility,” she added.
What are the treatment options?
Dr Bakshi gives some treatment options and preventive measures for recurrent UTIs. She says, “For treatment, every person should be drinking two to three liters of water or any other fluid to stay hydrated. Besides this, one must not hold back urine and void their bladder as often as needed. Infections usually multiply when a person holds back urine. And if a person has the symptoms of UTIs very often, proper treatment should be taken for it and medicines should also be consumed regularly.”
(Dr Rita Bakshi is Chairperson of the International Fertility Centre)
Cutting 300 calories in healthy adults known to improve heart health
If you think you don’t need to cut calories just because you have a few extra pounds or are healthy, then take note! Even in healthy adults cutting around 300 calories a day significantly improved already good levels of cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and other markers, suggests a study. The study was published in the journal ‘The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology’.
The trial, part of an ongoing project with the National Institutes of Health continues to build on the researchers’ hypothesis that it’s not just weight loss that leads to these improvements, but some more complex metabolic change triggered by eating fewer calories than what’s expended.
“There’s something about caloric restriction, some mechanism we don’t yet understand that results in these improvements. We have collected blood, muscle and other samples from these participants and will continue to explore what this metabolic signal or magic molecule might be,” said William E. Kraus, the study’s lead author.
For the first month of the trial, participants ate three meals a day that would cut one-fourth of their daily calories to help train them on the new diet. Participants were asked to maintain the 25 per cent calorie reduction for two years. Their ability to do that varied, with the average calorie reduction for all participants being about 12 per cent. Still, they were able to sustain a 10 per cent drop in their weight, 71 per cent of which was fat, the study found.
There were numerous improvements in markers that measure the risk of metabolic disease. After two years, participants also showed a reduction in a biomarker that indicates chronic inflammation which has also been linked to heart disease, cancer, and cognitive decline.
“This shows that even a modification that is not as severe as what we used in this study could reduce the burden of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. People can do this fairly easily by simply watching their little indiscretions here and there, or maybe reducing the amount of them, like not snacking after dinner,” said Kraus.
Just 20-minute ‘nature pill’ can lower your stress
Taking just 20 minutes out of your day to stroll or sit near nature will significantly lower your stress hormone levels, a new study suggests.
Healthcare practitioners can use this finding to prescribe ‘nature pills’ to have a real measurable effect, according to researchers from the University of Michigan.
“We know that spending time in nature reduces stress, but until now it was unclear how much is enough, how often to do it, or even what kind of nature experience will benefit us,” said lead author MaryCarol Hunter from the varsity.
For the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, the research team involved 36 participants. Over an eight-week period, they were asked to take a ‘nature pill’ for at least 10 minutes, three times a week.
Levels of cortisol — a stress hormone — were measured from saliva samples taken before and after taking the ‘nature pill’, once every two weeks.
The data revealed that just a 20 minute nature experience was enough to significantly reduce cortisol levels.
And if you take in a little more nature experience – 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking – cortisol levels dropped at their greatest rate, the researchers said.
“Our study shows that for the greatest payoff, in terms of efficiently lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature,” Hunter noted.
Exercise can help in containing arthritis
A new study has found that degradation of cartilage due to osteoarthritis could be prevented with the help of exercise. The study, published in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, demonstrates the benefits of exercise on the tissues that form our joints.
The researchers have shown for the first time how mechanical forces experienced by cells in joints during exercise prevent cartilage degradation by suppressing the action of inflammatory molecules that cause osteoarthritis. During exercise, the cartilage in joints such as the hip and knee is squashed.
This mechanical distortion is detected by the living cells in the cartilage, which then block the action of inflammatory molecules associated with conditions such as arthritis. The researchers showed that this anti-inflammatory effect of physical activity is caused by activation of a particular protein, called HDAC6, which triggers changes in the proteins that form primary cilia.
Pharmaceutical drugs that blocked HDAC6 activation prevented the anti-inflammatory effects of physical activity, while other drug treatments were able to mimic the benefits of exercise. Changes in length of the primary cilia, which are only a few 1000th of a millimetre, provided a biomarker of the level of inflammation.
Cilia got longer during inflammation, but treatments that prevented this elongation successfully prevented inflammation. Su Fu, a PhD student at Queen Mary University of London and study author, said: “We have known for some time that healthy exercise is good for you. Now we know the process through which exercise prevents cartilage degradation.”
Professor Martin Knight, lead researcher of the study added, “These findings may also explain the anti-inflammatory effects of normal blood flow in arteries, which is important for preventing arterial diseases such as atherosclerosis and aneurysm.” The researchers hope that these findings will help in the search for treatments for arthritis. The researchers suggest the results may lead to a whole new therapeutic approach known as “mechanomedicine” in which drugs simulate the effect of mechanical forces to prevent the damaging effects of inflammation and treat conditions such as arthritis.