Urinary Complaints

Urinary conditions include any disorders which affect the function of the urinary tract. The urinary tract is made up of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. The kidney is responsible for filtering the blood and creating urine, which travels through the ureters to the bladder where the urine is stored. The bladder is a container for urine and when ready, the muscles of the bladder contract and urine are eliminated from the body through the urethra.

Urinary disorders vary in severity from a mild annoyance to sometimes life-threatening conditions. Some common urinary conditions include incontinence, urinary tract infections, and kidney stones. Symptoms of urinary problems vary per condition, however, some indications of a urinary condition may be: abdominal pain, lower back pain, discolored urine, painful urination, frequent urination, painful urination, and urgent urination.

Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections are quite common. A urinary tract infection is an infection of any part of the urinary tract: the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Women are more likely to get urinary tract infections than men, however, both men and women can be affected. Women have a shorter urethra than men and therefore has as a shorter distance for bacteria to reach the bladder. Sexual activity can also increase the risk of contracting a urinary tract infection. Urinary tract infections are most commonly seen in the lower part of the urinary tract, the urethra, and the bladder. These infections occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract and proliferate. Symptoms of urinary tract infections include strong urgency to urinate, frequent urination, passing small amounts of urine, discolored urine, strong-smelling urine, and pelvic pain. Urinary tract infections may have more specific signs and symptoms depending on the area of the urinary tract that is affected. Typical biomedical treatment of urinary tract infections includes a course of antibiotics.

How can Chinese medicine help Urinary conditions?

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can be very effective in treating urinary complaints and disorders. Chinese medicine is effective because it treats the underlying condition that may be causing urinary issues rather than just treating the symptom. Western medicine often looks to treat the symptom rather than the root cause of illness. This is often the case with antibiotics. While antibiotics are essential for many illnesses, there is a trade-off as they may cause damage to the gut flora and contribute to antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics are commonly prescribed for urinary tract infections. The threat of antibiotic resistance has lead many people to seek out alternative forms of treatment for urinary tract infections. In a study published in 2002 by the American Journal of Health, it was found that acupuncture reduced the urinary tract infection rate by 50% with 6 months of treatment. The study included a group of 94 women, ages 18-60, with a history of 3 diagnosed urinary tract infections in the last 12 months. In the study, it was found that 73% of women were infection-free for the 6 months of treatment compared to only 52% in the non-acupuncture control group.

Acupuncture can also be effective for treating other urinary conditions such as incontinence and frequent urination. Acupuncture stimulation of the sacral vertebrae can help to suppress incontinence and frequent urgency to urinate. Acupuncture can help to reduce an overactive bladder and improve symptoms such as nocturnal enuresis, stress incontinence, and urge incontinence.

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