Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a very common health problem. While both men and women get UTIs, women are more prone to them.
A UTI occurs when the bladder and its exit tubes are infected by bacteria. Some of the causes are sexual intercourse, waiting too long to urinate, pregnancy, menopause, and diabetes.
Common symptoms include a frequent urge to urinate, passing small quantities of urine, a burning sensation when urinating, change in urine color, abdominal pain, fever, nausea, and vomiting.
Immediate treatment is necessary so that the infection does not cause damage to the kidneys. In addition to the conventional treatment, many natural remedies can help prevent and treat UTIs.
Here are some home remedies for urinary tract infections.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a rich source of enzymes, potassium and other useful minerals that can prevent the bacteria that cause UTIs from multiplying or growing. Those suffering from UTIs can use apple cider vinegar as a natural antibiotic to treat the infection.
- Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water. You can also add lemon juice and sweeten with honey. Mix it well.
- Drink this two times a day for a few days.
2. Indian Gooseberry (Amla)
Indian Gooseberry is rich in vitamin C which in turn inhibits the growth of bacteria.
- Take a cup of water.
- Add one teaspoon of Indian gooseberry (amla) powder and one teaspoon of turmeric powder.
- Boil the solution until half the water evaporates.
- Drink the residue three times a day for three to five days.
You can also eat more fruits like lemons, oranges, bananas, guava, kiwi, melon, raspberries, tomatoes, and papaya that contain a good amount of vitamin C.
3. Cranberry Juice
Certain compounds like proanthocyanidins found in cranberries prevent bacteria from reaching the walls of the urethra and causing UTIs. Cranberry juice also has a very mild antibiotic affect.
- Drinking half a glass of cranberry juice daily is one of the easiest ways to prevent urinary tract infections.
- Those suffering from a UTI should drink about three to four glasses of cranberry juice daily to prevent the infection from causing damage to the kidneys.
You must drink unsweetened cranberry juice. You can mix it with apple juice to enhance the taste.
4. Baking Soda
Baking soda will raise the acid-base balance of acidic urine and give you relief from the pain. Neutralizing the acidity in the urine also will help speed up recovery. Simply add one teaspoon of baking soda to a glass of water and drink it once or twice a day.
5. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has antibacterial properties to help fight the bacteria that cause bladder infections like UTIs.
- Mix 10 drops of tea tree oil in your bath water and use this water to wash the urethra opening.
- Alternatively, you can mix tea tree oil with equal amounts of juniper oil and sandalwood oil and rub this mixture on the abdominal region and on the area near the bladder. This is very effective in reducing pain associated with UTIs. Follow this remedy once daily for three to four days.
- Another simple way to treat UTI is to soak in warm bath water mixed with two teaspoons of plain yogurt and six drops of tea tree oil. Do this daily for 10 minutes for about 10 days.
Blueberries have bacteria-inhibiting properties that can help in the treatment of UTIs. The antioxidants present in blueberries are good for the immune system, and they prevent growth of bacteria that causes UTIs.
- You can add some fresh blueberries to your favorite cereal and have it for breakfast.
- You can also make fresh blueberry juice and have it daily, in the morning and at night for quick results. Do not add any artificial sweetener to the juice.
Including fresh blueberries or juice in your daily diet is a good way to prevent UTIs, too.
Pineapple contains an enzyme called Bromelain, which has anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce UTI symptoms. Along with the pineapple, also take the antibiotics prescribed by your doctor to quickly get rid of this kind of infection.
Eating a cup of pineapple on a regular basis can help prevent UTIs. You can also make juice from half a pineapple and drink it. It is best to use fresh pineapple because the canned version may contain preservatives.
8. Uva Ursi
Uva ursi is an herb that contains a number of substances that help fight infections, including UTIs. The herb contains several chemicals with antiseptic properties.
The herb is easily available at drugstores in supplement forms. When this supplement is taken, the antiseptic quality of this herb kills the bacteria and also gently stimulates urination.
9. Hot Water Compresses
Regular use of hot water compresses will help minimize bladder pressure and give you relief from pain caused by the infection. A hot compress also will decrease the inflammation and help prevent growth of the bacteria that causes the infection.
- Put some hot water in a flexible water bottle. Place the hot water bottle on your lower abdomen for a few minutes.
- You can also place a heating pad on the lower abdominal area to get relief from the pain.
Drink plenty of water when suffering from a urinary tract infection. Try to drink at least eight to 10 glasses of water daily. By drinking more water, you will urinate more often, which is essential for dealing with this kind of infection.
Also, your urine will become less concentrated and the infection-causing bacteria will be flushed out of your system, helping you recover faster. Along with water, you can drink fruit and vegetable juices to provide your body with the vitamins and minerals it requires to fight off the infection.
These home remedies are effective in dealing with urinary tract infections. But you should consult a doctor if you have symptoms like blood in the urine, vomiting or high fever.
Expert Answers (Q&A)
Answered by Dr. Dana C. Rice, MD (Urologist)
Is UTI a sexually transmitted disease?
Urinary tract infection is a catchall phrase that is used loosely in many different ways. Urea plasma is an STI (sexually transmitted infection) that can lead to urinary symptoms, but not all bacterial infections in the bladder are sexually transmitted. In fact, most bacterial cystitis infections (bladder infections) are not sexually transmitted.
There are also upper tract infections (kidney infections) that are not sexually transmitted and often called UTIs, instead of pyelonephritis. In addition, many “UTIs” are not infections at all but rather urethral irritation or pain.
Why are women more prone to urinary infection than men?
A female’s anatomic structure makes them more prone to bacterial infections. The urethra in females is much shorter than that in males. In addition, the urethra is in close proximity to vaginal flora, which naturally is colonized with bacteria. Hormone status also can impact susceptibility to UTIs. All are possible causes for increased infection risk over men.
Can a UTI clear on its own?
Symptoms of a UTI can pass without treatment. If a true bacterial infection is documented, it is possible for it to flush out on its own. It is also possible to be colonized with bacteria, meaning there will always be bacteria in the urine, but it does not cause symptoms for the patient.
What happens if a UTI is left untreated?
If a patient is colonized with bacteria, then their symptoms may actually get more bothersome if they are treated with antibiotics. Also, over-treating with antibiotics for negative urine cultures can lead to antibiotic-resistant organisms.
True culture-positive UTIs should be treated if the patient is symptomatic, and there is a pain, blood, fever, etc. Treating infections early can prevent bladder lining irritation and inflammation, ascending infections (pyelonephritis) and sepsis.
What is the best way to get instant relief from UTI?
Medications such as phenazopyridine (Pyridium, AZO, etc.) are bladder analgesic that should give most patients relief from the dysuria and urinary frequency. It is not an antibiotic, however, so it will not treat a bacterial infection.
D-Mannose is a supplement that has been shown to prevent UTIs and is also widely available. Specifically, with E. coli infections, many patients can take D-Mannose and AZO to prevent antibiotic treatment for UTIs.
Please enlighten our readers with some important points to steer clear of a urinary tract infection.
I address many tips and tricks for UTI prevention in my app, UTI Tracker. Knowing your body and learning your trigger points is of utmost importance. Patients who track their symptoms and can pinpoint causes for UTIs can generally develop prevention strategies that work well consistently.
Hormones, sexual acts, hydration status, timed voiding, positional voiding, and regular stool play a role in UTI prevention. Drinking plenty of water, lubrication during sexual intercourse and timed voiding are the biggest preventative tips across all age groups.
About Dr. Dana C. Rice, MD: Dr. Rice is a board-certified Urologist in the Washington, D.C. area. After completing her medical studies, she did her Postgraduate Residency at George Washington University. She co-authored a chapter on urinary tract infections and developed her very-own UTI Tracker app to help educate patients and physicians alike. Dr. Rice resides in Mclean, VA, and maintains a very busy surgical practice.