What is D-Mannose?

D-mannose is a type of naturally occurring sugar that is sold as a nutritional supplement at many health food stores, supermarkets, and online specialty retailers. It is marketed as a remedy for bladder and kidney infections. According to manufacturers, the supplement helps to flush harmful bacteria from the urinary tract. It is important for consumers to remember that the efficacy of D-mannose has not been confirmed in clinical trials, and it is not currently approved by most national food and drug agencies as a remedy for urinary tract problems. An individual who experiences frequent infections should speak with his or her doctor before taking any supplement or medication.
Most urinary tract infections are caused by buildups of a bacterium called Escherichia coli (E. coli) in the kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra. E. coli is normally present in the intestines and is usually harmless to humans. If some of the bacteria make it to the kidneys, however, they can adhere to the lining of the urinary tract and cause painful infections. D-mannose supposedly helps to prevent E. coli from becoming trapped.
D-mannose is not easily absorbed by the body, so most of the substance makes it to the kidneys and bladder after it is ingested. Manufacturers claim that the supplement actively binds to E. coli in the urinary tract before the bacteria can embed into tissue lining. Excess bacteria can then be passed normally through the urine.
A consumer can purchase D-mannose in capsule or dissolvable powder form. Most manufacturers suggest that people take one to three doses a day, each with at least one full glass of water. There are no known major side effects associated with D-mannose and very little risk of overdose. An individual may urinate more frequently and feel bloated, but such effects are more likely attributed to increased fluid consumption. Since D-mannose is considered safe, most doctors would not discourage people from using the supplement regardless of its effectiveness as a treatment
It is important to visit a doctor before beginning any type of treatment for urinary tract problems. Urine and blood tests can confirm the presence and severity of infection. If a patient experiences recurring or especially bad infections, he or she is typically prescribed a pharmaceutical antibiotic that is proven to treat the condition. The patient can discuss taking D-mannose in addition to antibiotics with the doctor to make sure it is safe.

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