Case Study: Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

This recent case study from my clinic outlines the immense progress made by an eleven year old girl who had been having recurrent urinary tract infections. She came to my clinic because she and her mother were hoping there would be a better solution than the monthly rounds of antibiotics that Ella* had been taking for the past year.

 

Ella first came to see me with a history of recurrent UTIs since she was 8 years old, with 12 urinary tract infections in the past year, all of which she took a course of antibiotics to treat. These were medically diagnosed and prescriptions given. Further medical investigations had shown no other issues. Ella had become very quick to feel the symptoms of burning and increased urgency and frequency of urination, and get them treated as soon as possible. This is always important with UTIs as if not treated they can result in a serious kidney infection.

 

During our consultation it became apparent that:

 

  • Ella was zinc deficient
  • She had a history of recurrent ear issues as a small child
  • She had suffered reflux as a baby
  • Ella had tried many over the counter natural products but none with success
  • Ella is a hot person, active and although can tend to worry, a bright personality
  • Ella is already taking a probiotic, which she is to continue with

 

The first recommendations Ella left with were to:

  • Take a Zinc supplement daily
  • Drink a medicinal herbal tea daily, formulated specifically to reduce the incidence of urinary tract infections
  • Take a herbal tonic twice daily to improve immune function, and specifically in the urinary tract
  • To increase the frequency of taking both of these at the first signs of any UTI onset, and to call me if improvements are not noted within 24 hours.
  • We discussed the possibility of food intolerances or sensitivities being a triggering factor, and sent away a hair sample for testing.

 

First Follow-Up Appointment (3 weeks later)

Ella had experienced 2 ‘twinges’, the first signs of infection, since our appointment, and at each time had managed to stop the infection from developing by increasing the dose of the herbal tonic. Ella is so excited to have not needed antibiotics again.

Test results show Ella is most sensitive to Dairy, Wheat and MSG. It also identifies a slight Candida overgrowth. We discussed how to take these foods out of her diet for a specific time period and what to replace them with for a balanced diet for a growing girl.

 

Recommendations:

  • Start to eliminate dairy, wheat, MSG, and reduce dietary sugars.
  • Ella cannot tolerate the zinc tablet and so we change this to drops.
  • Start on a stronger herbal anti-microbial capsule to treat Candida overgrowth
  • Continue with herbal tonic as before

 

Phone Call with Ella’s Mum (4 weeks later)

Ella’s mum discussed the fact that she thought there may be a link with UTIs and anxiety, we also discussed the fact that Ella often had difficulty falling asleep. She called for a repeat of the herbal prescription, which we changed as below:

  • Continued herbal formula, with herbs added to help calm the nervous system to assist with sleep.
  • A Calcium/Magnesium supplement to help with sleep and to support a dairy-free diet.
  • Continued zinc supplement.

 

Second Follow-Up (5 weeks later)

Ella and her mum were so excited to report that she had not had one incidence of any UTI symptoms. This is the first time she has been consistently symptom-free for 3 years!

After our last appointment Ella started sleeping well, it was ‘like magic’. In the past few weeks however she has been sleeping poorly again, but this coincided with reducing the tonic to one dose daily in the morning. Also, Ella’s skin has been getting quite pimply, and she would like some help with this.

  • Because things are going so well, I recommend that Ella can cautiously try a reintroduction of wheat, just a small amount daily. This was a lower score (less reactive) on the test than dairy.
  • Continue with herbal formula twice daily, reformulated now to help provide more support for the skin also.
  • Continue with zinc at an increased dose.

 

One Week Later:

One week later I get a message from Ella’s mum to let me know that after 6 days back on wheat, Ella has another UTI, but the herbs are keeping on top of things and she will now stop the wheat again.

 

Discussion:

It has been so heartening to work with Ella and her mum and see such wonderful progress happen relatively fast. Our first step of reducing the need for antibiotics was both a huge relief for them and also empowering. They also felt hopeful for the first time in a long while that Ella’s health could turn around. The second step of being completely symptom-free felt almost miraculous for Ella. Being free of her symptoms and of having to always pay attention to them has enabled her to focus more on being a child and the other important things happening like starting intermediate school, and dance, and normal daily life. The fact that wheat seemed to trigger another UTI shows us that Ella’s system is not quite ready for the reintroductions and may take some further strengthening, balancing and healing before this can happen. Some dietary changes are a small price to pay for good health though, as Ella would surely agree!

 

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