A bladder infection, also known as cystitis, occurs when harmful bacteria enter the urethra and travel into the bladder.
Anyone can develop this infection, but women are more prone to it than men. This is mainly because women have shorter urethras, which makes it easy for bacteria to reach the bladder.
Other factors that increase your risk of bladder infections are aging, surgery in the urinary tract, a urinary catheter, urinary tract abnormalities, a narrow urethra, enlarged prostate, bowel incontinence, pregnancy and diabetes.
When you have a bladder infection, you may experience symptoms like cloudy urine, blood in the urine, foul-smelling urine, pain or burning sensations when urinating, a frequent urge to urinate and pressure in the lower abdomen or lower back.
You can make some dietary and lifestyle changes to reduce your chances of contracting a bladder infection.
Here are the top 10 ways to prevent bladder infections.
1. Increase Your Fluid Intake
To reduce the risk of developing a bladder infection, make sure to drink an ample amount of water throughout the day.
Drinking more water helps in two ways. It helps flush out the infection-causing bacteria from your bladder, and also helps dilute your urine so that you can urinate more easily without feeling pain or burning sensations.
- Drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water daily.
- Also, drink fruit and vegetable juices or smoothies regularly.
- You can also drink soups or broths to increase fluid intake.
Note: If you have kidney problems, consult a doctor before increasing your fluid intake.
2. Maintain Good Hygiene
Maintaining good hygiene is important for your bladder as well as overall health.
- After using the toilet, wipe properly from front to back with toilet tissue. This will prevent germs from entering the urethra. Never wipe twice with the same tissue.
- Do not use douches, soaps or deodorants in your vaginal area. The chemicals in these products can destroy the good bacteria in your system.
- Wear sanitary pads instead of tampons and change the pads at regular intervals.
- Take a shower daily, instead of a bath. If you take a bath, do not use bubble bath products.
- After taking a shower, pat dry the vaginal and anal areas with a soft towel rather than rubbing them.
- Keep your bathroom clean and avoid using dirty bathrooms or public toilets.
3. Empty Your Bladder as Needed
Keeping a full bladder for a long time or delaying the urge to urinate can contribute to a bladder infection. Holding your urine increases the risk of bacterial growth.
In addition, it increases pressure on the kidneys, which can cause kidney problems. Hence, urinate frequently to reduce the risk of bladder infections as well as kidney problems.
- Use the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge to urinate. Try to empty your bladder completely whenever you urinate.
- It is also important to urinate after having sex. It will help flush bacteria away from the urinary tract.
4. Eat Immune-Boosting Foods
One of the main functions of the immune system is to prevent and fight off infections. Hence, you need to strengthen your immune system by including some immune-boosting foods in your diet.
- Start your day with a glass of lemon water.
- Drink 2 to 3 cups of green tea daily.
- Drink a glass of warm turmeric milk daily before going to bed.
- Eat vitamin C-rich foods like broccoli, kiwi, bell peppers, strawberries, sprouts and tomatoes. Drinking unsweetened cranberry juice can also help prevent infection as it blocks the spread of bacteria.
- Eat vitamin D-rich foods like salmon, mackerel, organ meats, cheese and egg yolks. You can also eat vitamin D-fortified foods.
- Include ginger and garlic in your cooking.
5. Drink Water with Apple Cider Vinegar
Drinking raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar on a daily basis is an easy way to prevent urinary infections. Apple cider vinegar contains antibacterial properties that can help prevent as well as treat infections. In addition, it helps balance the pH levels in the body.
- Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a glass of water.
- Add a little raw honey for taste and mix it well.
- Drink this twice daily to remain healthy and infection-free.
6. Beware of Birth Control Measures
Certain types of contraceptives increase the risk of bladder infections. You must avoid using a diaphragm or spermicides that contain nonoxynol-9.
Using a diaphragm may slow urinary flow and allow bacteria to multiply. Spermicides cause skin irritation, increasing the growth of bacteria.
In addition, certain birth control pills can reduce your level of estrogen, which helps keep vaginal tissue healthy. Women with chronic urinary tract and yeast infections should discuss these issues with their doctors before taking birth control pills.
7. Quit Smoking
Tobacco use increases susceptibility to bacterial infections. It also increases the risk of bladder cancer. The chemicals in cigarette smoke compromises the anti-bacterial function of leukocytes.
Hence, to reduce the risk of bladder infections, quit smoking as well as use of other tobacco products. In addition, avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
8. Dress Appropriately
Wearing sensible clothes can also help avoid bladder infections. Clothes made of materials like cotton and chiffon that allow your skin to breathe are good options. Breathable materials help avoid moisture, thus keeping bacteria at bay.
- Wear loose pants or skirts to promote air circulation and reduce the chances of bacterial growth.
- Avoid wearing tight jeans and other tight-fitting pants that trap heat and moisture.
- Wear cotton underwear and change your underwear daily. Wash your underwear in hot water using a mild detergent.
- Avoid staying in a wet swimsuit for a long time.
9. Eat Probiotic Yogurt
Eating probiotic yogurt every day is another preventive step for bladder infections. It contains billions of friendly bacteria that help fight off infection-causing bacteria.
It even helps maintain a healthy pH level and strengthens your immune system.
- Eat 2 to 3 cups of probiotic yogurt with live cultures daily.
- You can also drink a smoothie made with probiotic yogurt.
In addition, you can include other probiotic foods in your diet, such as kefir, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh and sour pickles.
10. Avoid Triggers
Several common foods and drinks can irritate your bladder and increase the risk of developing infection. If you have a higher risk of bladder infections, you should avoid such irritants.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee. Instead, drink non-caffeinated herbal teas. Chocolates and certain soda drinks also contain caffeine so avoid them as we well.
- Avoid beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages as they can even irritate the bladder and even cause dehydration.
- Steer clear of spicy foods.
- Stay away from sugary foods and artificial sweeteners.