Connection between Fibromyalgia and Urinary Tract Infections

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Biofilms are densely packed communities of microbial cells that grow on living or inert surfaces and surround themselves with secreted polymers. Many bacterial species form biofilms, and their study has revealed them to be complex and diverse. The structural and physiological complexity of biofilms has led to the idea that they are coordinated and cooperative groups, analogous to multicellular organisms. Researchers have estimated that 60-80 percent of microbial infections in the body are caused by bacteria growing as a biofilm, as opposed to planktonic bacteria.

Urinary tract infections

If you’re a woman, your chance of getting a urinary tract infection, or UTI, is high; some experts rank your lifetime risk of getting one as high as 1 in 2 with many women having repeat infections, sometimes for years on end. UTIs are a key reason we’re often told to wipe from front to back after using the bathroom. That’s because the urethra, the tube that transports urine from the bladder to the outside of the body, is located close to the anus. Bacteria from the large intestine, such as E. coli, are in the perfect position to escape the anus and invade the urethra. From there, they can travel up to the bladder, and if the infection isn’t treated, continue on to infect the kidneys. Women may be especially prone to UTIs because they have shorter urethras, which allow bacteria quick access to the bladder. Having sex can introduce bacteria into the urinary tract, too.

Symptoms of UTI

To identify a UTI, keep an eye out for symptoms like

  • Cloudy, dark, bloody, or
  • strange-smelling urine,
  • Feeling tired or shaky,
  • Pain or pressure in your back or lower abdomen,
  • a burning feeling when you urinate,
  • A frequent or intense urge to urinate, even though little comes out when you do,
  • Fever or chills.

Connection between Urinary Tract and Fibromyalgia

As most of you already know, fibromyalgia is an exceedingly complicated disorder with a laundry list of symptoms that involve nearly every system in the body.  The urinary system is no exception.  Urinary tract infections (UTIs) and disorders are yet another piece of the puzzle that may need to solve in order to get you feeling better. 

In fact, about 25% of my fibromyalgia patients have chronic urinary tract infections or what interstitial cystitis (painful bladder syndrome).Many also has problems with incontinence (inability to hold urine) and urinary retention (inability to pass urine).  It is more common, however, that people with these chronic conditions will suffer from UTIs.

Chronic UTIs are common in sexually active women, people with sickle cell disease, those with anatomical abnormalities of the urinary tract, and people with diabetes.  Women are much more prone to get a UTI than men because the urethra is much shorter and closer to the anus. 

This is one of the reasons why proper hygiene is important in females. Urinary frequency and abdominal bloating is quite common amongst fibromyalgia patients, particularly women. This symptom causes you to feel as if you have to urinate constantly, and can result in you having to visit the washroom several times a day. Some fibromyalgia sufferers find that they have to urinate as frequently as every 20 minutes.

Urinary frequency can also disrupt sleeping patterns, as it typically causes you to wake up to go the bathroom. Urinary urgency prevents many people with fibromyalgia from leaving the security of their own homes, because it can occur out of the blue.

Interstitial cystitis

There are many medical conditions that can occur with Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS). One that you need to be aware of is Interstitial Cystitis (IC). It is a chronic inflammation of the bladder that can be very debilitating for some. It occurs primarily in women, although it also can occur in men.

The most common presenting symptoms of this condition include severe pelvic pain and intense burning with urination. In fact, the most common description of this syndrome is that it feels like a “urinary tract infection (UTI) that never goes away.” A person who has IC has likely been seen by more than one healthcare professional.

When their urine is checked, there is no evidence of a urinary tract infection, however, the urinary symptoms persist, and there is little or no relief from prescription antibiotics. Note that while IC can occur on its own, there is a strong connection with Fibromyalgia.

In some, the symptoms of IC can precede the development of fibromyalgia symptoms. Too many women and men are not aware of this condition, and some health professionals may not be aware either. It is important that to find a healthcare professional that recognizes the symptoms and diagnosis, and is willing to work with you to alleviate the symptoms. IC is very much associated with certain “trigger foods” or food sensitivities that can worsen urinary symptoms.

In some cases, these foods can also be a stimulus for worsening fibromyalgia symptoms as well. Common trigger foods are those that are more “acidic” that can irritate the bladder lining. These include tomatoes, citrus fruits, caffeinated beverages and Vitamin C. It is important to keep well hydrated with this condition. Altered bowel flora can also adversely affect the health of the bladder.

Begin taking a probiotic daily. Begin using herbs such as Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) which not only can help with urinary symptoms, but also improve energy and mood and relieve stress from Fibromyalgia as well. The antioxidant Quercetin has also been shown in a few studies to decrease bladder inflammation and pain symptoms associated with IC. Start at 400 mg a day. Quercetin can also help with Fibromyalgia symptoms as well.

Prevention of UTI

  1. For women who are sexually active, urinate within 15 minutes after intercourse, which will expel the bacteria before specialized extensions anchor to the urethral walls,
  2. Clean genitalia before and after intercourse,
  3. Clean the opening of the urethra right after intercourse,
  4. Don’t hold off going to the bathroom when you feel the urge; go as soon as you feel it,
  5. Avoid taking in a lot of alcohol and caffeine,
  6. Drink 70 ounces of water daily.

Also Read:

Vulvodynia in fibromyalgia and CFS- Chronic Pain in Women’s Externel Genitalia

Reference:

  • Urinary and Pelvic Symptoms in Fibromyalgia via Fibromyalgia Symptoms
  • Your Guide to Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) via WebMd
  • The Urinary Tract and fibromyalgia via Your Fibro Doctor.

For support and Discussion join the group “Living with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Illness”

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