Urinary tract infections affect millions of Americans each year.
A UTI is an infection in any part of your urinary system (which includes your urethra, bladder, and kidneys). Most infections only involve only the urethra and bladder, but if the UTI spreads to your kidneys the consequences can be severe.
UTIs are painful and need to be addressed. Doctors normally prescribe antibiotics, though there are also some steps you can take to minimize symptoms or prevent the infection from occurring in the first place.
Symptoms of a UTI
Mild UTIs don’t necessarily cause symptoms. The majority of infections, however, have the following common indicators:
- A frequent, persistent urge to urinate
- A burning sensation
- Passing small amounts of urine frequently
- Cloudy urine
- Brown or red-colored urine, indicating the presence of blood
- Strong-smelling urine
- Pelvic pain
- Back or stomach pain, particularly if the infection has spread to the kidneys
What part of your urinary system is affected?
If your UTI affects only the urethra, you’ll experience discharge and a burning sensation when you urinate. If the infection has spread to the bladder, you’re likely to feel pelvic pressure, experience painful urination, and see blood in your urine. Signs the infection has spread to the kidneys include upper back pain, fever, shaking and chills, and nausea and vomiting. If a UTI has reached this point, it’s critical that you seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Treatment for UTIs
The standard course of treatment for a urinary tract infection is a course of antibiotics. This intervention is designed to stop the spread of infection, kill harmful bacteria, and provide relief so your urinary system can begin to heal. While antibiotics are very effective in treating infections, some people prefer to use home remedies for treatment. Some of the more commonly used home remedies for UTIs include the following strategies.
Dehydration can put you at an increased risk of infection. Adequate hydration and regular urination help to flush harmful bacteria out of your urinary tract, reducing your risk of getting a UTI. Aim to drink at least half your body weight in ounces daily for best results (150 lbs = 75 ounces, or nine cups). Use the bathroom frequently to keep your system running smoothly.
Increasing vitamin C intake
Increased intake of vitamin C can protect against the development of urinary tract infections. Medical experts think that vitamin C increases the acidity of urine, killing off harmful bacteria. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin C. They’re an excellent way to get your daily intake and provide your body with valuable nutrients for optimal health.
Drinking unsweetened cranberry juice
Your grandmother was right — drinking unsweetened cranberry juice is still one of the most effective home remedies for treating a urinary tract infection. A combination of powerful antioxidants and a high concentration of vitamin C go to work banishing harmful bacteria and reducing your risk of infection. Drink two to three eight-ounce servings daily to keep your system healthy.
Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that fight off bad bacteria in your gut, bringing your digestive system into a state of balance. Found in fermented foods or taken as supplements, probiotics are responsible for everything from enhanced immune function to improved gut health. Probiotics are necessary after a course of antibiotics to restore health to your digestive system, as the antibiotics themselves can destroy good gut flora. Take a probiotic on a regular basis to decrease your risk of infection and keep your gut healthy and happy.
Practicing good bathroom hygiene
To reduce your risk of developing a UTI, practice these good bathroom habits:
- Don’t hold your urine for too long
- Urinate after sex to flush out harmful bacteria
- Avoid using spermicide, which has been linked to increased risk of UTI’s
- Wipe front to back after using the bathroom
Several natural supplements have been proven effective in reducing UTI occurrence. Some of these supplements include:
- D-mannose: This natural type of sugar is present in cranberries. It’s effective at reducing the development of urinary tract infections.
- Bearberry leaf: Also known as Ursa urvi, this natural substance is effective in both treatment and prevention of UTIs when used in combination with dandelion root.
- Cranberry extract: This extract prevents harmful bacteria from taking up residence in the urinary tract.
- Garlic extract: Garlic has strong antimicrobial properties. It’s used to help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in the urinary system.
It’s important to consult with your doctor to see which type of treatment will be most effective for you. Natural alternatives like these, however, can help keep your urinary system operating at its healthiest. Use this information on how to prevent a UTI to be proactive and keep your urinary system infection-free.