The urinary tract system is responsible for making and carrying urine out of your body. It includes your bladder and kidneys and the tubes that connect them. When germs get into this system, they can cause an infection. Escherichia coli, more commonly known as E. coli, is the cause of 80–85% of all urinary tract infections.
While people of any age or sex can get UTIs, about four times as many women get UTIs as men. This is mainly due to the fact that women have a shorter urethra, which makes it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder. Additionally, the opening of a woman’s urethra is near the vagina and anus, where bacteria live. For reasons that are not well understood, some women get urinary tract infections again and again. This leads many to search for urinary tract infection home remedies.
Most urinary tract infections are actually bladder infections. A bladder infection usually is not serious if it is treated right away. However, if you do not take care of a bladder infection, it can spread to your kidneys. A kidney infection is more serious and can cause permanent damage. Therefore it is best to take precautions to avoid getting a urinary tract infection and to treat them as soon as possible if you should get one.
Usually, germs get into your system through your urethra, the tube that carries urine from your bladder to the outside of your body. The germs that usually cause these infections live in your large intestine and are found in your stool. If these germs get inside your urethra, they can travel up into your bladder and kidneys and cause an infection. Normally, bacteria that enter the urinary tract are quickly removed by the body before they cause symptoms. But sometimes bacteria overcome the body’s natural defenses and cause infection.
These are steps you can take to try to prevent a UTI:
Avoid using diaphragms. Women who use a diaphragm are more likely to get UTIs than women who use other forms of birth control.
Drink plenty of fluids, preferably water. You may be more likely to get an infection if you do not drink enough fluids. Some research suggests that cranberry (juice or capsules) may help prevent UTIs. If you choose juice make sure that you use 100% juice to avoid unnecessary sugar.
Boost your immune system. In both sexes, a strong and healthy immune system will help prevent infection. Natural supplements such as ginseng, astragalus (Huang-Qi), and echinacea may help boost your immune system and can be found in most health food stores.
Urinate when you need to. Don’t hold it. It is especially important to pass urine before and after sex. After you pass urine or have a bowel movement (BM), wipe from front to back. Having sex can make it easier for germs to get into your urethra.
Practice proper hygiene. Clean the outer lips of your vagina and anus each day. Take showers instead of baths. Showers are better especially for women because dirt in bath water can lead to infections of the vagina. Also avoid using douches or feminine hygiene sprays.
Dress properly. Wear underpants with a cotton crotch. Don’t wear tight-fitting pants, which can trap in moisture and provide an environment for bacteria to grow.
- You may have an infection if you have any of these symptoms:
- A frequent or intense urge to urinate, even when you have little urine to pass.
- There is pain or burning when you urinate. Your urine may also be cloudy, dark, bloody, or foul-smelling.
- There is pain on one side of your back under your ribs. This is where your kidneys are located. Your stomach might also feel tender.
- You have fever, chills, nausea and vomiting.
Home Remedies for UTI
Load up on vitamin C. This is one of the most popular urinary tract infection home remedies. Vitamin C makes your urine more acidic, which fights bacteria in your urinary tract. If you have an active UTI, taking vitamin C supplements may help.
Place a heating pad over your pelvic area. Gentle heat may provide some pain relief.
Increase your fluid intake. Both during a UTI and after, you need lots of fluids to flush out the infection and to keep you hydrated. Drinking lots of fluid can help flush bacteria from your system. Water is best although you can choose non-caffeinated tea and other healthy drinks which are not loaded with sugar. Most people should try for six to eight, 8-ounce glasses a day. Cranberry juice won’t cure a UTI, but it may prevent recurrence, particularly in women.
Stop the burn with baking soda. If painful, burning urination is a problem for you during a UTI, try baking soda. Stir 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda into 1 cup of water and drink it. The baking soda neutralizes acid in your urine, which makes peeing less painful. Baking soda is also extremely effective in teeth whitening.
Food fight. Eating the right foods can help treat your UTI. Yogurt contains probiotics, which is the good bacteria that helps to keep bad bacteria that can cause UTIs at bay. Blueberries and cranberries are from the same plant family and seem to have the same bacteria-inhibiting properties. Pineapples contain the enzyme bromelain which has been known to be an effective anti-inflammatory.
Use herbal remedies. You may find some relief from taking the herb urva ursi, which works as an anti-inflammatory. In addition, the herbs golden seal and Oregon grape root can help your body fight E. coli,the bacteria that causes UTIs. Look here for the best prices on these and other top selling herbal remedies.
The following are remedies collected from readers.
Oil of Oregano in combination with garlic capsules take 3 times a day.
Drink original Alka-Seltzer as recommended on the package at the first sign of a urinary tract infection.
Granny smith apples slices dipped in white vinegar have also been known to reduce the symptoms associated with urinary tract infections.