For many years, antibiotics have been the normal treatment for urinary tract infections. In more recent times, individuals are seeking out alternative prevention and cures for UTIs. Many studies are underway to determine the effectiveness, dosage, and side effects of these alternative treatments.
One of the newest supplements being currently studied is D-mannose.
What is D-mannose?
D-mannose is sugar, like glucose, that is naturally occurring in some foods, especially fruits. It can be found in oranges, apples, peaches, cranberries, mangos, broccoli, green beans, seaweed, and even aloe vera.
It the past it has been used to treat urinary tract infections in animals. So, now scientists are researching how well it works in humans.
How does it work?
Females who suffer from painful recurrent UTIs will try many options to prevent them from occurring. Often, their physicians put them on low dose antibiotics after an infection for a six to twelve month period of time. This treatment is highly effective, but there is a risk involved. Overuse of antibiotics came make bacteria resistant to that source of treatment. Thus, scientists have been researching nonantibiotic alternatives.
Consuming food or supplements that contain D-mannose, then eliminating them through the urinary tract allows the D-mannose to attach to the E. coli bacteria. Once these are attached, it is unlikely that the bacteria can also attach to the other cells present or the urinary tract walls. This can prevent the bacterial growth which leads to UTIs.
Research continues, so the dosage necessary for preventing or curing an active case of urinary tract infection has not been perfected. There are only recommendations that seem to work at this time.
One option is:
- Prevention- two grams once a day, or one gram twice a day
- Treating Active Infection- one and a half grams twice a day for three days, then one gram daily for ten days; or one gram three times a day for fourteen days
- Five hundred milligrams every two to three hours for five days
Both options agree that using it for a few days after the symptoms of the UTI have subsided may be an appropriate measure. This will ensure that all the bacteria have been eliminated and lessen the chances of a reoccurrence.
Are there side effects?
The only side effect that has been confirmed is diarrhea, which can also be caused by the average antibiotic.
Diabetics, however, should seek the advice of their doctor. D-mannose is a form of sugar, though some studies say it doesn’t cause issues with diabetes. Other studies are not so certain that it is okay for diabetics. In any case, a doctor should be informed that the patient is using this method of treatment. The doctor may wish to monitor the patient’s blood sugar levels closely, or be sure that the individual will do so.
The lack of side effects makes it safe for children and the elderly, though their dosage may be different than a young adult.
How do I get enough D-mannose?
It would be difficult, if not impossible, to get the correct amount of D-mannose from eating food that contains it. For that reason, there are supplements that can be used in place od food.
D-mannose can be found in capsule or powder form. The capsules may come in dosages as low as five hundred milligrams, meaning a person may have to swallow two to four each time in order to meet the required dosage. The powder is usually mixed with water, which gives the water a sweet flavor, but it can also be added to juice if patients prefer.
Read the label. D-mannose can be found in pure form or it can have other ingredients added. These may include, but are not limited to, probiotics, cranberry, rose hips, dandelion extract, or hibiscus. Choose the form that you prefer. After all, cranberry or probiotic additives may suit the patient’s needs and aid in recovery.
Symptoms of a UTI
Watch out for these noticeable changes in the urinary tract:
- Urgent need to urinate, yet producing little fluid
- Changes in urine's appearance; cloudy, white, pink, red, dark
- Urine has a bad smell not typically present on a normal day
- Pain in the back or pelvic areas
- A terrible, irritating or painful, burning sensation while urinating
- Incontinence or leakage
- Fever, chills, fatigue, or mental changes. These are warnings that the infection has reached the kidneys, or even the blood. This situation will require antibiotics provided by a doctor. In the worst cases, it may require a hospital stay with intravenous antibiotics. Once patients reach this stage, they should not try to treat the UTI on their own.
The best thing about D-mannose is that it can be used as a preventative measure. If a woman is aware that she has been suffering from chronic or recurring UTIs, then she can pretreat herself during the most obvious times that can cause infection. For instance, when she is on antibiotics for another issue and her immune system is not up to par, or when she is going to have a sexual encounter.
A doctor’s advice and counsel are always appropriate before trying any new supplement, especially if you are depending on it as a cure for an infection. A patient’s doctor knows their body, and their medical history. He can help determine if the patient is healthy enough to use a supplement like D-mannose in place of antibiotics. Some women have underlying issues that can make the use of supplements dangerous.