If you have urinary tract infection, you can opt to pass up on antibiotics and try some of the popular natural UTI remedies.
Do you have urinary tract infection or UTI? This is a very common condition characterized by the infection of the structures where urine passes through. While doctors often prescribe the use of antibiotics for treating UTI, you’d rather use natural UTI remedies that have very minimal side effects.
UTI is an infection of the structures where our urine passes through before being eliminated from the body—kidneys, ureters, urethra and bladder. It is painful and annoying. There’s this unmistakable urge to urinate, although there is not much urine that comes out when you pee.
Most cases of UTI are bladder infections, which are not really damaging especially when treated immediately. Bigger problems can arise if bladder infections are not addressed right away since the infection can spread to the kidneys. Kidney infection can cause permanent damage.
The infection happens because of the germs that get into the system via the urethra, the tube which allows urine to pass out of the body. These germs can travel all the way into the bladder and kidneys, infecting them in the process.
In 90 percent of uncomplicated infections, the cause of UTI is Eschesrichia coli or E coli that normally reside in the colon and around the anus.
Aside from painful and increased frequency of urination, UTI has symptoms like blood in the urine and dark or cloudy urine. Rectal pain in men and pelvic pain in women are other symptoms of this condition.
UTI is more common in women than men. In fact, it is estimated that more than half of women will experience UTI in their lifetime. The higher incidence of UTI in women may be due to them having shorter urethras, making it easier for the germs to travel.
At least three out of 10 UTI cases would recur six months after the first episode, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. UTIs are very common that it is estimated to be the cause of more than 3 million trips to the doctor every year, with costs amounting to $1.6 billion.
UTI is more common in adults than in children, but this is not to say that the young ones won’t get this condition. It is estimated that 2 percent of children get UTI, which is likely to be more serious especially when it afflicts younger children.
There are several risk factors of UTI, like being sexually active. For women, risks of UTI may increase among pregnant and menopausal women. In men, prostate gland problems like enlarged prostate and prostatitis can increase risks of UTI, as well as HIV infection.
Treatment For UTI
Doctors often prescribe antibiotics for treatment of UTI. These antibiotics can relieve the symptoms of UTI, prevent recurrence of the infection, and avoid serious complications like kidney damage.
In case of kidney infections, physicians usually prescribe oral antibiotics. But you would have to stay in the hospital for a few days to have these antibiotics administered to you.
Some of the antibiotics that are commonly prescribed for treatment of UTI are Amoxicillin, Cipri, and Bactrin. However, taking these drugs can cause more problems in the future as they destroy the beneficial bacteria which play a huge role in preventing pathogenic bacterial growth.
Antibiotics can also cause side effects, the most common of which are mild stomach upset and diarrhea. There are also instances that antibiotics can cause more serious side effects like vomiting, vaginal discharge, rash, and severe abdominal cramps.
Antibiotics are not the only treatment option for UTI. There are natural remedies for a urinary tract infection that you can try. These alternatives may not only be as effective but also present minimal side effects.
UTI Natural Remedies
Water is perhaps the most well-known natural treatment for UTI. Drinking lots of water is particularly recommended 24 hours after the symptoms of UTI become noticeable. Water can make urine less concentrated, and remove the bacteria causing the infection. It can also help in improving the defense mechanisms of the body and enable it to fight off the infection.
Next to water, cranberry is perhaps the most popular natural UTI treatment. Through the years, scientists have suggested that cranberries are almost as potent, if not more potent than antibiotics in treating UTI. It is not surprising that it usually included in listings of natural remedies for a bladder infection.
In 2010, a study conducted by researchers from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts found that drinking cranberry juice can hinder bacteria from growing into an infection of the urinary tract.
Still, there are some researches that suggest cranberry has lesser antibacterial effects than antibiotics. One of these studies was conducted by Dutch scientists in 2011 and reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine. In the study, the researchers tested cranberries against other antibiotic treatments.
The clinical test involved 220 women who had recurrent episodes of UTIs. They were split into two groups and each group received preventive therapy for over a year. One of the groups was given Bactrim, while the other group was given cranberry extract.
At the end of the study, those who took the cranberry extract had an average of four recurrences while those who used the antibiotic had 1.8 recurrences.
There may be mixed reviews on the effectiveness of cranberry in treating UTI. Still, what cannot be argued is that many patients with UTI prefer it especially those who are not keen on using antibiotics in treating the infection.
Baking soda mixed with water may also be considered as a UTI natural treatment, although not a lot of clinical tests can back up this claim. Mix one tablespoon of baking soda with a cup of cold water, and drink it to help ease the pain and limit the trips to the toilet. Baking soda has antibacterial properties that may assist in decreasing the acidity of urine.
Although not as popular as cranberries for UTI treatment, blackberries are also said to be among the more effective natural cures for UTI. This is due to blackberries having flavonoids that hinder the bacteria from binding to the bladder of the lining, and from further developing. There are also studies that suggest the presence of an antioxidant compound called epicatechin in blackberries can kill bacteria, or weaken the bacteria cells.
You can harness the potential of blackberry for treating UTI by making your own blackberry juice, or sprinkling a handful of blackberries over your cereals.
It has also been suggested that yogurts are potential natural UTI cures. Yogurts have live bacterial cultures or probiotics that prevent the bad bacteria from growing and spreading. However, studies on the effectiveness of yogurt as a urinary tract infection natural treatment have yielded mixed results.
Parsley is another of the suggested natural remedies for urinary tract infections. It is said to have anti-fungal properties enabling it to fight off the germs that caused the infection. It also acts as a diuretic, flushing out the bacteria from the urinary tract.
You can try to add parlsey in your diet. You may also come up with parsley tea and drink four cups of it for seven days. It is believed that the pain caused by UTI would decrease in just three days. However, be warned that there is insufficient clinical evidence to support these claims.
Like parsley, celery seeds have been traditionally used to promote good urinary health. Celery seeds have been used for years in the Middle East to treat urinary tract infection. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory compounds that make it effective in treating the condition. But again, there are no significant clinical studies to support the theory that celery seeds are natural antibiotics for UTI.
Cucumber juice is frequently listed as one of the possible urinary tract infection natural remedies. Cucumber is considered as a good diuretic, and that drinking cucumber juice thrice a day can help alleviate the pain associated with UTI. ‘
Ginger tea is also regularly mentioned as among the potent herbal remedies for UTI. Ginger is well known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which are said to be enough to reduce the pain and prevent the growth of bacteria associated with the condition. Ginger tea is made by adding ginger to a glass of water and boiling it for 10 minutes. It is to be consumed thrice a day.
The use of hot compress is also one of the natural remedies for bladder infections. Hot compress can help kill the bacteria, and reduce the pain associated with the condition. A warm cloth or hot water bag may be placed around the lower abdomen.
Horseradish is another of the natural remedies for a UTI that you may want to try. With its antibiotic qualities, horseradish is not only used for treating UTI but also for coughs, bronchitis and other health problems due to bacteria growth. In fact, horseradish is approved in Germany as an ingredient of prescription drugs for UTI.
The therapeutic qualities of garlic are well documented, and there are claims that this herb is an effective herbal remedy for UTI as well. With its antibacterial qualities, garlic can aid in getting rid of the bacteria that causes UTI. But there is insufficient evidence to prove that garlic can really be useful in the treatment of UTI.
Aside from herbal remedies, you can also treat UTI by making some lifestyle changes.
For instance, watch out what you drink. Doctors usually forbid intake of caffeinated drinks like sodas and coffee. Caffeine can cause irritation of the bladder when you have UTI. You should also avoid drinking alcohol if you have UTI.
Holding back on urination is something you should avoid. Doing so may only increase the bacterial growth in your urinary tract. When you feel the urge to pain, do it as soon as possible.
Other lifestyle changes are more for UTI prevention instead of treatment, such as practicing good hygiene by washing the genital and anal areas before and after sex. It is also recommended that you urinate before and after a sexual intercourse to prevent bacteria build-up in the urethra, and empty the bladder.
After each bowel movement, clean from front to back using soap and water as the bacteria that causes UTI like E. Coli usually come from the large intestine. It could then pass through the anus and then make its way to the urethra, due to the close proximity of the two body parts.
Aside from practicing good hygiene, drinking lots of water and urinating frequently can also prevent UTI. The same goes for not wearing tight-fitting pants and wearing panty hose or cotton crotch underwear. Speaking of underwear, use mild detergents in washing them.
For women, sanitary napkins should be used instead of tampons, which according to some doctors can encourage infection. Doctors also advise against the use of any product containing perfume near the genital area.