- Do Natural Treatments Really Work for UTIs? The Experts Weigh In
- What exactly is a UTI?
- How can you cure a UTI?
- Do I really have to see a doctor for a UTI?
- Uva-ursi (or bear berries)
- Just add water
- How to prevent bladder infections
- Pee after sex
- Wipe from the front to the back
- Don’t use a diaphragm
- Don’t have sex
- Make your pee acidic
- 9 Home Remedies for Preventing and Treating UTIs
- Can you treat a UTI without antibiotics? 7 home remedies
- Creating stronger strains of bacteria
- Damaging good bacteria
- 1. Stay hydrated
- 2. Urinate when the need arises
- 3. Drink cranberry juice
- 4. Use probiotics
- 5. Get enough vitamin C
- 6. Wipe from front to back
- 7. Practice good sexual hygiene
- Home Remedies for UTI Symptoms: Natural Treatment for Urinary Tract Infections
- 2. Load Up on Vitamin C for a Healthy Urinary Tract
- 3. Soothe UTI Pain With Heat
- 4. Cut Bladder Irritants From Your Diet
- 5. Go Ahead, Empty Your Bladder Again
- 6. Consider Herbal Remedies
- 7. Change to Healthier Daily Habits
- 8. Cut Back on Meat and Poultry
- A Note About Cranberry Juice and UTIs
- Are Bananas Good for UTIs?
- Can Onions Help UTIs?
- Can Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar Treat UTIs?
- Is Coconut Oil Effective at Alleviating UTI Symptoms?
- How Do I Know If I Have a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)? What’s the Treatment?
- Home Cystitis Relief
- Alternative cystitis treatments
- Good hygiene
- Preventative home remedies
- What to do when home remedies aren't enough
Do Natural Treatments Really Work for UTIs? The Experts Weigh In
Want a fast fact to bust out at your next party? Forty percent of women will get a urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point in their lives.Bono MJ, et al. (2018). Urinary tract infection. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.
gov/books/NBK470195/ Fun, right? OK, nothing involving urine and tracts will ever be a particularly fun point of conversation, but it’s worth knowing the ins and outs of this incredibly common ailment.
Especially since 20 percent of women who get a UTI will get another one.
Most of the time, UTIs require a treatment of antibiotics to get the bugs your system. This is a perfectly effective treatment, and it usually takes care of the infection in a few days.
But, if you’d rather not use antibiotics, since there’s some concern about creating antibiotic-resistant strains of the infection, what options do you have? I spoke to some experts to find out if there are any natural cures for a UTI and if all that talk about cranberry juice really lives up to the hype.
What exactly is a UTI?
Unsurprisingly, a UTI is an infection of the urinary tract. Bacteria has gotten into the urinary tract system, which is normally sterile. To put it in less pleasant terms, when material from the lower intestine gets into your urethra, it causes a bladder infection.
Though that sounds horrid, it’s not uncommon. Sometimes, it can be caused by a lack of proper hygiene, but most of the time it occurs from sex, using a diaphragm, or just being a woman. The Mayo Clinic lists “female anatomy” as a risk factor for the illness. So, if you’re simply walking around town with a vagina, you very well might get a UTI.
The infection itself might be caused by the E. coli bacteria, which goes up the urethra. Sometimes, it hangs out in this urinary hallway without infecting anywhere else.
More often, the bacteria gets into the bladder, causing frequent painful peeing, discharges, blood in your urine, and pelvic discomfort.
It’s not a good time, but a bladder infection is rarely serious, especially if you get treatment right away.
How can you cure a UTI?
For all the anti-antibiotic people out there, I have bad news. You can’t cure the infection with natural remedies. Sorry. Though there are natural solutions that might help prevent UTI (which I’ll explain in just a bit), all the unsweetened cranberry juice in the world won’t actually help you.
In fact, in the study “Cranberry juice fails to prevent recurrent urinary tract infection,” the tart fruit had the exact same effect as a placebo in recurrent UTIs. Barbosa-Cesnik C, et al. (2011). Cranberry juice fails to prevent recurrent urinary tract infection: Results from a randomized placebo-controlled trial. DOI: https://doi.org/10.
1093/cid/ciq073Though you probably guessed that from the study title.
The only way to totally get rid of a UTI is with antibiotics. If you’re experiencing symptoms, it’s best to get to the doctor quickly.
They’ll test your urine, and if it’s indeed a UTI, you’ll get a weeklong course of antibiotics. Usually, your symptoms go away in a few days and you can enjoy pain-free peeing again.
But you must continue your antibiotics until you’ve completed the prescription.
Do I really have to see a doctor for a UTI?
It may seem unnecessary to see a doctor for such a common illness. Why not just let it go and treat it on your own? Dr.
Elizabeth Rice, a licensed naturopathic doctor and primary care physician at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, has tips for natural treatments, but says you always have to be careful.
“A partially treated or mistreated UTI can quickly become a serious condition known as pyelonephritis (infection of the kidney), so care must always be taken when treating UTIs naturally.”
If you’re just starting to feel or see potential UTI symptoms, you can try a few natural remedies to try to flush out the bacteria and reduce inflammation before the infection really takes hold, Rice says. Increase your intake of fluids to help flush the bladder. But if the symptoms persist more than a day, or get worse, you have to go to the doctor.
Going to the doctor may be a bit annoying, but a UTI that morphs into a kidney infection is way worse than an afternoon in the waiting room. Kidney infections can lead to potentially life-threatening sepsis or permanent kidney damage. Seeing a doctor to prescribe antibiotics may ultimately help you avoid a lifetime of medical complications.
You know your body best, so listen to it. You may not run to the doctor after one weird-feeling pee. If you start to have mild symptoms, here are a few natural choices that may help you out.
D-mannose is a supplement made from a glucose- sugar that you can find online or in health food stores. “D-mannose is most helpful at preventing E.
coli from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract,” says Rice. D-mannose in recurrent urinary tract infections. (2014). https://clinicaltrials.
gov/ct2/show/NCT01808755 “If taken with a lot of water, this can effectively flush out the bacteria that is causing the infection.”
Rice often tells patients to take 500 milligrams every two to three hours when experiencing symptoms; however, the best dose is individual.
You can find more guidelines here, and when in doubt, a good rule of thumb is to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Be sure to drink lots of water throughout the day to help the D-mannose remove the bacteria.
Again, if the symptoms persist more than 24 hours or get worse, get yourself to the doctor.
D-mannose isn’t recommended for those with diabetes, and if you’re taking other medications, you need to talk to a doctor before starting this treatment. Diarrhea is a common side effect.
Althaea officinalis, otherwise known as Marshmallow, is an anti-inflammatory herb widely available in powdered, supplement, and tea form. “Althaea officinalis is a demulcent herb that can soothe and coat the lining of the urinary tract to help decrease inflammation,” says Rice. “Make a strong tea and sip throughout the day.”
Unfortunately, this herb won’t cure a UTI, but it can ease some of the symptoms. Even more unfortunately, a bag of fluffy marshmallows won’t do anything to help a UTI, but they will taste delicious.
Uva-ursi (or bear berries)
“Some research indicates that uva-ursi (Arctostaphylos uva ursi) — also known as “bear berries” because bears to eat them —is an effective herb for treating UTIs,” says Erin Stair, MD, MPH, and founder of Blooming Wellness. The plant (also found in supplement form) has diuretic properties, which could help you pee out the bacteria before it does any harm. But uva-ursi is more than a natural water pill.
“The whole plant has many active substances, such as arbutin (which gets converted to hydroquinone and acts as an antimicrobial agent), flavonoids, tannins, phenolic acids, resin, gallic and egallic acid,” says Stair. Because uva-ursi has such potent ingredients, you need to take it carefully.
Stair cautions that the supplement hasn’t been well studied in humans yet and shouldn’t be used if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Also, long-term use of hydroquinone may affect the liver and kidneys. New Jersey Department of Health. Hazardous substance fact sheet: hydroquinone. (2002). https://nj.gov/health/eoh/rtkweb/documents/fs/1019.pdf
So, while uva-ursi has potential to be fairly powerful, it also carries risks. It may or may not treat a UTI, and it may or may not hurt your liver. In this case, if you’re able to take antibiotics, the traditional medical route seems to be a safer option.
Just add water
With any of these supplements, experts recommend that you should greatly increase your water intake. Basically, you’re trying to flush out those gross little E. coli jerks, and the best way to do that is through peeing. And there’s no easier way to pee than by drinking plenty of water.
Also, upping your water intake can be a good barometer of infection. If you pee with little discomfort, keep drinking water and taking supplements, and you might be able to flush it out on your own. If your pee starts to hurt, burn, or show signs of blood, you know it’s time to see a doctor.
How to prevent bladder infections
Though natural remedies aren’t guaranteed to get rid of early UTI symptoms, there are some natural ways to discourage UTIs from forming in the first place.
Now, before we get into prevention, please remember: If you’re a woman, you’ve got a high chance of a UTI. That doesn’t mean you’re gross or doing anything wrong. You happen to have a vagina and that’s just the way it goes.
Still, you can reduce your chances of infection, and most of the methods are free and easy.
Pee after sex
There’s a bit of a myth that an increased number of sexual partners leads to an increased risk of UTI. But a study from the University of Michigan found no connection between number of partners and UTIs. Foxman B, et al.
(1990). Health behavior and urinary tract infection in college-aged women. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.
gov/pubmed/2324774 Instead, they found that peeing after sex was way more helpful in preventing UTIs than limiting your sexual partners.
When you urinate, the pee itself flushes out your urethra. So, that E. coli gets washed away before it gets a chance to make your life miserable. Though it seems a a tiny, insignificant thing, a quick pee after sex can keep you from days of painful urinations.
Wipe from the front to the back
Don’t draw germs from your rectal area toward your vagina and urethra. Every time you wipe, it should be from the urinary area toward the rectum.
Don’t use a diaphragm
That same study from the University of Michigan also found that people who used diaphragms were twice as ly to get UTIs. Foxman B, et al. (1990). Health behavior and urinary tract infection in college-aged women. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.
gov/pubmed/2324774 This doesn’t mean diaphragms are off the table, but be very careful with keeping them clean. Any tiny bit of bacteria can cause a vaginal or urinary infection.
Alternately, you can consider switching your method of birth control to decrease the risk of UTIs.
Don’t have sex
The University of Michigan study found that UTIs significantly increased with sexual intercourse. Foxman B, et al. (1990). Health behavior and urinary tract infection in college-aged women. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.
gov/pubmed/2324774 So if you’ve had trouble with recurring UTIs or think you might have an infection, it may be best to be less sexually active for a bit.
This doesn’t mean abstaining long term to avoid a UTI, but reducing intercourse right after a UTI may decrease your odds of recurrence.
Make your pee acidic
The pH balance of your pee might have a significant effect on UTI recurrence. Dr. Eugene Charles, director of The Applied Kinesiology Center of New York, says that maintaining an acidic pH of the urinary tract may prevent bacteria from growing.
A study from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that acidic pee restricted bacterial growth. Shields-Cutler RR, et al. (2015). Human urinary composition controls antibacterial activity of siderocalin. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.
gov/pmc/articles/PMC4481200/Unfortunately, trying to make your pee acidic after you already have a UTI won’t help. It’s too little, too late. But, if your urine stays acidic, it could stop E.
coli from growing in the first place, thereby stopping recurring infections.
And no, it’s not you’ll have to start peeing straight-up acid. In fact, the study found that urine that was just slightly more acidic than water, which is neutral on the pH scale, was most effective in inhibiting the growth of bacteria.
How do you make your urine more acidic? “This is best accomplished through a daily tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a tincture of cranberry, which should be incredibly sour,” says Charles. “Otherwise, you are drinking predominately sugar, which propagates UTIs.”
Thankfully, while nothing can ensure that a UTI won’t strike, there are some natural ways to help keep them at bay. But once they hit, it’s best to go with antibiotics, so you can feel better right away and avoid more damaging infections. In the meantime, drink water, take a little apple cider vinegar, and remember to pee after sex.
9 Home Remedies for Preventing and Treating UTIs
Maybe you’ve heard other people’s UTI nightmares: the friend who gets one almost every time she has sex; the 70-something aunt who struggles with recurring infections now that she’s older. Or maybe you’re dealing with symptoms seemingly the blue or after a weekend of hot tubbing.
When symptoms surface, the cause doesn’t exactly matter; all you want to know is how to get rid of your UTI.
Antibiotics are the main treatment, especially if you have a raging infection. But when symptoms are mild or vague, it may be worth giving natural remedies for a UTI a try before popping a prescription pill or while you’re waiting for your meds to kick in.
So what exactly is a UTI? A urinary tract infection, or UTI, is a general term for any infection along the urinary tract. Infections usually start in the lower urinary tract, where the urethra (the tube that allows urine to pass the body) and bladder (where urine is stored) are located.
Sometimes UTIs travel to the ureters (the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder) and kidneys (where urine is produced).
Anyone can get a UTI and at any age, including babies, toddlers, and men—but these infections are much more common in women. Doctors say it’s an anatomy thing: Women’s urethras are shorter than men’s and closer to the anus, so it’s easier for bacteria to enter the body and ascend the urinary tract.
Most UTIs are bladder infections (also called cystitis). Common symptoms include burning; lower abdominal pain; and a frequent or urgent need to urinate, even if you barely have a trickle of pee to pass.
If the infection travels from the bladder to one or both kidneys, more worrisome symptoms can develop. Kidney infections (also called pyelonephritis) are a type of UTI that can spike a fever and cause back pain; nausea; vomiting; and bloody, cloudy, or foul-smelling urine.
RELATED: 7 Things Every Woman Should Know About UTIs
Thomas Hooton, MD, professor of clinical medicine at the University of Miami School of Medicine, tells patients with recurrent infections who have mild symptoms to “try to treat it naturally with increased fluid and some pain relief.” If UTI symptoms improve in a day or two, “well, then, you’ve saved yourself an antibiotic,” he says.
That’s important, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), because overuse of antibiotics can render these drugs ineffective against future bacterial infections, including recurrent UTIs.
If symptoms are bad or don’t improve, “by all means,” Dr. Hooton says, “call the doctor and get an antibiotic.”
Older, post-menopausal women experiencing repeated UTIs should speak with a doctor about a prescription for vaginal estrogen, adds Nazema Siddiqui, MD, assistant professor of urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery at Duke University Medical Center. Research shows it can help by building the body’s defense against bad bugs.
If your child has urinary symptoms (which can differ from your own), consult your pediatrician and seek immediate care if fever and other signs of illness last more than 24 hours. Young children are at greater risk of kidney damage from UTIs than older kids and adults, says the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
That said, there are times when it makes sense for UTI sufferers to go the home-remedy route because some things may actually help. Here’s how to treat a UTI at home.
RELATED: What Does It Mean if You're Peeing Blood? We Asked a Doctor
Can you treat a UTI without antibiotics? 7 home remedies
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Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by bacterial infection, so doctors usually treat them with antibiotics — but is it possible to treat a UTI without antibiotics?
UTIs are among the most common bacterial infections in the United States. They are especially prevalent in women, around 50 percent of whom will have one during their lifetime. UTIs also tend to reoccur.
Increasingly, people want to know whether non-antibiotic treatments can resolve UTIs. We explore this possibility here and provide seven evidence-based home remedies that can help to treat UTIs.
Share on PinterestCranberry juice is a popular home remedy for mild UTIs.
Antibiotics are an effective treatment for UTIs. However, the body can often resolve minor, uncomplicated UTIs on its own without the help of antibiotics.
By some estimates, 25–42 percent of uncomplicated UTI infections clear on their own. In these cases, people can try a range of home remedies to speed up recovery.
Complicated UTIs will require medical treatment. These UTIs involve one or more of the following factors:
- changes in the urinary tract or organs, such as a swollen prostate or a reduced flow of urine
- species of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics
- conditions that affect the immune system, such as HIV, cardiac disease, or lupus
Antibiotics are the standard treatment for UTIs because they kill the bacteria that cause the infections. Most UTIs develop when bacteria enter the urinary tract from outside the body. The species of bacteria most ly to be responsible for UTIs include:
- Escherichia coli species, which cause up to 90 percent of all bladder infections
- Staphylococcus epidermidis and Staphylococcus aureus
- Klebsiella pneumoniae
While antibiotics can usually treat UTIs quickly and effectively, people can be allergic to them, and their use can carry certain risks.
For instance, an estimated 22 percent of the women receiving treatment for uncomplicated UTIs develop a vaginal Candida infection, which is a type of fungal infection.
Other side effects of antibiotics as UTI treatments include:
- nausea and vomiting
- a rash
- a headache
- abnormal liver function tests
More severe risks of using antibiotics include:
Creating stronger strains of bacteria
Over time, some species of bacteria have become resistant to traditional antibiotics. There are several species of E. coli that are showing increasing drug resistance, and these are the primary cause of UTIs.
Every time people use an antibiotic, there is an increased risk of the bacteria developing resistance to it. This is even more ly when people do not follow the doctor’s instructions to complete the full prescribed course of treatment.
As a result, doctors are trying to reduce the use of antibiotics, especially when other treatments may be effective or when illnesses can resolve on their own.
It is essential to continue a course of antibiotics until the end date that the doctor provides. People should also never share antibiotics with others.
Damaging good bacteria
The body contains a community of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live harmoniously and help with bodily functions. Antibiotics may destroy some of these bacteria, which could increase the lihood of other infections occurring.
While scientific research supports some at-home or natural UTI remedies, others have been a part of traditional medicine systems for thousands of years.
To treat a UTI without antibiotics, people can try the following home remedies:
1. Stay hydrated
Share on PinterestDrinking water regularly may help to treat a UTI.
Drinking enough water is one of the easiest ways to help prevent and treat UTIs.
Water helps the urinary tract organs remove waste from the body efficiently while retaining vital nutrients and electrolytes.
Being hydrated also dilutes the urine and speeds its journey through the system, making it harder for bacteria to reach the cells that line urinary organs and to cause an infection.
There is no set recommendation for how much people should drink daily, as each person’s water needs are different. On average though, people should drink at least six to eight 8-ounce (oz) glasses of water each day.
2. Urinate when the need arises
Frequent urination puts pressure on bacteria in the urinary tract, which can help to clear them out.
It also reduces the amount of time that bacteria in the urine are exposed to cells in the urinary tract, reducing the risk of them attaching and forming an infection.
Always urinate as soon as possible when the urge strikes to help prevent and treat UTIs.
3. Drink cranberry juice
Cranberry juice is one of the most well-established natural treatments for UTIs. People have also traditionally used it to help clear general infections and speed up wound recovery time.
Studies on the effectiveness of cranberry juice for UTIs have had mixed results. According to one review, cranberry juice contains compounds that may prevent E. coli cells from attaching to cells in the urinary tract.
Cranberry juice also contains antioxidants, including polyphenols, which have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
There is no set guideline on how much cranberry juice to drink to treat a UTI, but a common recommendation is to drink around 400 milliliters (mL) of at least 25-percent cranberry juice every day to prevent or treat UTIs.
4. Use probiotics
Beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics, can help keep the urinary tract healthy and free from harmful bacteria.
In particular, a group of probiotics called lactobacilli may help with treating and preventing UTIs. They may do this by:
- preventing harmful bacteria from attaching to urinary tract cells
- producing hydrogen peroxide in urine, which is a strong antibacterial
- lowering urine pH, making conditions less favorable for bacteria
People who take lactobacillus supplements while on antibiotics for UTIs may develop less antibiotic resistance than people not taking them.
Probiotics occur in a variety of fermented and dairy products, including:
- some types of cheese
People can also take probiotic supplements, which are usually in the form of a capsule or a powder that mixes into water or other beverages.
5. Get enough vitamin C
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps to improve immune system function.
Vitamin C also reacts with nitrates in urine to form nitrogen oxides that can kill bacteria. It can lower the pH of urine, making it less ly that bacteria will survive.
As with cranberry juice, people have been using vitamin C in various forms to treat UTIs for thousands of years. But there is a lack of quality research to confirm whether or not increasing vitamin C intake can prevent or treat UTIs.
According to the limited research, taking other supplements alongside vitamin C may maximize its benefits.
In a 2016 study, 38 women with recurrent UTIs took vitamin C, probiotics, and cranberries three times daily for 20 days, then stopped for 10 days. They repeated this cycle for 3 months. The researchers concluded that this could be a safe and effective treatment approach for UTIs.
The National Institutes of Health recommend that for people aged 19 and over, women should get at least 75 mg of vitamin C per day, while men need around 90 mg per day. Adults who smoke should take an additional 35 mg of the vitamin each day.
6. Wipe from front to back
Many UTIs develop when bacteria from the rectum or feces gain access to the urethra, the small channel that allows urine to flow the body.
Once bacteria are in the urethra, they can travel up into other urinary tract organs where they can lead to infections.
After urinating, wipe in a way that prevents bacteria from coming into contact with the genitals. Use separate pieces of toilet paper to wipe the genitals and anus.
7. Practice good sexual hygiene
Sexual intercourse introduces bacteria and other microbes from outside the body to the urinary tract. Practicing good sexual hygiene can help to reduce the number of bacteria that people can transfer during intercourse and other sexual acts.
Examples of good sexual hygiene include:
- urinating before and immediately after sex
- using barrier contraception, such as a condom
- washing the genitals, especially the foreskin, before and after engaging in sexual acts or intercourse
- washing the genitals or changing condoms if switching from anal sex to vaginal sex
- ensuring that sexual partners are aware of any current or previous UTIs
Currently, researchers are trying to design vaccines that would prevent many types of bacteria from being able to attach to body cells properly.
They are also working on developing other UTI vaccines that prevent bacteria from being able to grow and cause infection. To date, only one type of UTI vaccine has reached preliminary human trials. Studies on the rest are still using animals and tissue samples.
If a person suspects that they might have a UTI, they should speak to their doctor for advice on the best way to treat the possible infection.
Antibiotics may not always be necessary to treat UTIs, but it is still important to seek medical attention for any infection or suspected infection. This will reduce the risk of a more severe infection developing that is harder to treat.
The signs and symptoms of UTIs include:
- increased frequency and urgency of urination
- pain or burning when urinating
- low-grade fevers (below 101°F)
- pressure or cramping in the area around the lower abdomen and groin
- change in the smell or color of urine
- cloudy, murky, or bloody urine
Most people develop a UTI at some point in their lifetime, especially women.
Many UTIs go away on their own or with primary care. Researchers are increasingly looking for ways to treat and prevent UTIs without the use of antibiotics.
Several longstanding at-home remedies may help to prevent and treat UTIs.
People who think they have a UTI should always talk with a doctor before trying to treat the infection themselves.
Some of the home remedies listed in this article are available for purchase online.
Home Remedies for UTI Symptoms: Natural Treatment for Urinary Tract Infections
One of the first things to do when you have a urinary tract infection is drink plenty of water. That’s because drinking water can help flush away the bacteria that's causing your infection, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). (3) It puts you on the right track for recovery.
Most people can be assured they’re getting the water they need by simply drinking water when thirsty, according to the health and medicine division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
(4) But to be safe, you may want to make sure you’re drinking at least six to eight 8-ounce (oz) glasses of water each day.
(3) General recommendations have suggested that women get about 91 oz of water daily and men get about 125 oz each day, including water from food, as also noted in that group's report. (4)
2. Load Up on Vitamin C for a Healthy Urinary Tract
Getting plenty of foods high in vitamin C is important because large amounts of vitamin C make urine more acidic.
This inhibits the growth of bacteria in your urinary tract, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine's health library. (5) However, if you have an active UTI, you may want to avoid citrus or other acidic foods.
These foods are known to irritate the bladder, which is the last thing you need when you’re having pain urinating.
3. Soothe UTI Pain With Heat
Inflammation and irritation from UTIs cause burning, pressure, and pain around your pubic area, says Kandis Rivers, MD, a urologist in the Henry Ford Health System in Wast Bloomfield, Michigan. Applying a heating pad can help soothe the area. (3) Keep the heat setting low, don’t apply it directly to the skin, and limit your use to 15 minutes at a time to avoid burns.
4. Cut Bladder Irritants From Your Diet
When you have a UTI, caffeine, alcohol, spicy food, nicotine, carbonated drinks, and artificial sweeteners can irritate your bladder further, making it harder for your body to heal, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
(6) Focus on healthy foods, such as high-fiber carbohydrates (including oatmeal or lentil soup), that are good for your digestive health, says Holly Lucille, ND, RN, a naturopathic doctor in private practice in West Hollywood, California, and the author of Creating and Maintaining Balance: A Woman’s Guide to Safe, Natural Hormone Health.
5. Go Ahead, Empty Your Bladder Again
Every time you empty your bladder — even if it’s just a small amount — you rid it of some of the bacteria causing the infection. (3) Keep making those bathroom runs, advises Dr. Rivers.
6. Consider Herbal Remedies
You may find some relief from taking the herb uva ursi (bearberry leaf), which is sometimes used as an herbal remedy for lower urinary tract infections. (7) But Rivers cautions that it should be taken only for short periods of time — five days or less — as it could cause liver damage.
It’s important to note that even though bearberry leaf may help some, there have been no large randomized controlled trials (the gold standard when it comes to proving the effectiveness of a drug or treatment in medicine) testing it as a remedy for UTIs. (7)
Some preliminary research, including as a study published in 2016 in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences, also suggests that D-mannose supplements may help to prevent and treat UTIs. (8,9) Researchers think it might keep bacteria from attaching to the walls of the urinary tract. D-mannose is a simple sugar found naturally in fruits, including oranges, apples, and cranberries.
Always be sure to check with your doctor before an herbal supplement. Supplements, herbs, and other medication you might be taking can cause side effects or may interact with one another. The effects can sometimes be serious.
7. Change to Healthier Daily Habits
Lifestyle changes matter because they can help you recover from a UTI and might prevent another infection, according to the NIDDK. (3)
- Quit smoking.
- Wear loose cotton clothing and underwear.
- Wipe yourself clean from front to back.
- Choose only fragrance-free personal hygiene products.
8. Cut Back on Meat and Poultry
Some studies, such as one published in August 2018 in the journal mBio, have linked contaminated poultry and meat to E.coli bacteria strains that can cause UTIs. (10) These studies haven’t proven that eating meat or poultry causes UTIs. In fact, some E.
coli can live in the intestines without causing any problems. However, bacteria from the gut can enter the urinary tract and cause infection.
This risk is greater in women than men, because women have shorter urethras than men, meaning the bacteria has less distance to travel to reach the bladder.
Cutting back on meat and focusing on fruits and veggies may slightly cut your risk of UTIs. According to a study of Buddhists in Taiwan, published in January 2020 in Scientific Reports, compared with nonvegetarians, vegetarians had a 16 percent lower risk of UTI. (11)
Related: Vegetarian Diet Linked to Lowered Risk Of Urinary Tract Infection
A Note About Cranberry Juice and UTIs
Cranberry juice or cranberry extract in supplemental form has long been used as a home remedy for UTIs.
The thought is that “the proanthocyanidins in cranberries may help prevent bladder infections by keeping the bacteria from clinging to the bladder wall,” says Sonya Angelone, MS, RDN, a nutrition consultant based in San Francisco, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Yet there’s scientific controversy over how effective cranberry juice is at preventing UTIs due to conflicting conclusions in studies on the topic, according to an article published in May 2016 in Advances in Nutrition. (12) Some studies have found it might work, while others have found no effect.
“Bottom line, there is some evidence it may help, and it doesn’t hurt to try it,” says Angelone. Just be sure to chose unsweetened cranberry juice (the sugar in sweetened cranberry juices can actually feed a bacterial infection). Mix this with sparkling water or plain yogurt, she recommends.
Another low-calorie option — choose a cranberry pill that contains d-mannose, she says.
Are Bananas Good for UTIs?
The American Urological Association calls bananas a bladder-friendly food. (13) That’s because bananas aren’t ly to irritate the bladder in most people. Other bladder-friendly fruits and veggies include: pears, green beans, winter squash, and potatoes. While eating bananas may help to lessen bladder irritation, eating bananas alone won’t make a UTI go away.
Can Onions Help UTIs?
Onions, especially raw ones, may cause bladder irritation in some people. (6) If you have an active UTI, eating foods that further irritate the already inflamed tissues of the urinary tract could make UTI symptoms worse.
Can Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar Treat UTIs?
Studies, such as one published in January 2018 in Scientific Reports, have shown that apple cider vinegar has some antibacterial and antifungal properties, but there’s no scientific or medical evidence that drinking apple cider vinegar cures UTIs. (14) Drinking large amounts of apple cider vinegar could lead to throat irritation and tooth decay.
Is Coconut Oil Effective at Alleviating UTI Symptoms?
Some studies have suggested that coconut oil may have antimicrobial properties. (15) However, there’s no research looking specifically at the effect of coconut oil on UTIs.
Additional reporting by Marie Suszynski.
How Do I Know If I Have a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)? What’s the Treatment?
If you think you might have a urinary tract infection, you’ll tell your doctor about your symptoms and start with a urine test. You might need some other tests, too.
- A urinalysis checks your urine sample for white blood cells, blood, and bacteria.
- A urine culture is another test that can find the type of bacteria that caused the infection, which will help your doctor choose an antibiotic to give you.
There are two types of UTIs: simple and complicated.
Simple UTIs happen in healthy people with normal urinary tracts.
Complicated UTIs happen in people with abnormal urinary tracts or when antibiotics cannot treat the bacteria causing the infection. People who get UTIs often usually have complicated ones.
If you have complicated UTIs, your doctor may refer you to a urologist for further testing to find out why you are getting UTIs. In this case, you may get tests such as:
- Urine culture and urinalysis
- Blood tests
- X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, or ultrasound to show your urinary tract
- Cystoscopy, in which your doctor inserts a long, thin instrument into your urethra (the tube that carries urine your body) to look inside your bladder
- Intravenous pyelogram, an X-ray test that uses dye so your doctor can better see your urinary system. This is rarely done now.
You wouldn’t get those tests if you have a simple UTI and don’t tend to get them a lot.
If you’re pregnant and you have a UTI, be sure to see your doctor promptly before it causes problems with your pregnancy.
Bacteria cause most UTIs. If that’s the case for you, then you’ll need to take antibiotics.
Young woman with a simple bladder infection might get an antibiotic prescription that lasts for just a few days. If your symptoms come back, you might get more tests to rule out other problems.
You might take antibiotics for a longer time, depending on what caused the infection and how long you’ve had your UTI, or if you have an infection that won’t go away. Men usually have to take antibiotics for weeks if the infection is in their prostate. That’s important to do to make sure the infection doesn’t cause serious problems.
You’ll need to take all the pills in your prescription and follow the instructions to take them on time — even after you start to feel better. If you have questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist. You should also drink lots of water to help wash out the bacteria from your urinary system.
If you have pain from your UTI, you might want to take medicine for that — and try a heating pad, too. If your symptoms do not go away after you take your antibiotics, you may need more testing.
If you have bladder pain and pain when you urinate, you may get a bladder anesthetic to curb irritation of the bladder and urethra. Depending on which bladder pain medication you take, it may change the color of your urine to reddish-orange or even blue.
It’s not ly that you’ll need an operation. But you might if your UTI is due to an anatomical problem. Or you could need an operation if a blockage, such as a kidney stone or enlarged prostate, is the cause.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Urinary Tract Infection in Adults.”
American Academy of Family Physicians.
WomensHealth.gov: “Urinary tract infection fact sheet.”
The Urology Institute.
Mayo Clinic: “Urinary Tract Infection.”
Urology Care Foundation: “How Are UTIs Treated?”
© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. Urinary Tract Infection Home Test
Home Cystitis Relief
There are many effective home remedies which can help you get rid of cystitis. Even when home remedies don’t suffice on their own they should be used to support an antibiotic treatment, such as MacroBid or Trimethoprim.
Using the right remedies for bladder infection can make a huge difference in curing the infection or preventing repeated bouts, especially in women who suffer from recurrent bladder infections.
Alternative cystitis treatments
Your diet plays an important role in curing cystitis. Bladder infections are often caused by E.coli bacteria. Drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day helps your body flush out bacteria and fight the infection.
- Drink 2-3 litres of fluids (water will do just fine) each day
- Go to the bathroom as often as you need to – don't hold it in
- Avoid drinking alcohol, coffee or citrus juices (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit), as they can irritate the bladder
- Avoid drinking sugary drinks
- Drink cranberry juice to prevent future infections (this will not heal current infections but may prevent future bouts). However, do not drink cranberry juice if you are taking a blood-thinning medication such as warfarin
- Get more Vitamin C (for example from leafy green vegetables and tomatoes)
You should keep on drinking lots of fluids for 2-3 days after the symptoms have gone. Natural therapy can also be used to prevent cystitis, the general idea being that you should maintain a healthy immune system. Your GP can advise you on the best options and diet for preventing bladder infection (e.g. antimicrobial herbs such as garlic and parsley).
Make sure you urinate as frequently necessary to prevent your urine from resting in your bladder for a long period of time (as this allows bacteria to multiply).
Drink plenty of fluids to ensure that any bacteria in your bladder get flushed out. Try to empty your bladder completely every time you urinate.
When going to the toilet, make sure you wipe front to back (and not back to front) to avoid transferring germs to the opening of the urethra.
In order to relieve pain from cystitis, you can use a heat pad or a warm bottle on your tummy. Alternatively, you can sit in a bath or a shallow bucket filled with warm water to ease the pain. Do not add anything else to the bath, unless your doctor suggested it.
Order cystitis treatment
Preventative home remedies
Remember to drink plenty of fluids every day – not only when you have cystitis. Avoid wearing very tight clothes and wear loose, cotton underwear. If you have already had cystitis, the following recommendations are important if you want to prevent another infection.
Avoid using douches, soaps or deodorants in your vaginal area, this usually destroys the natural environment and allows certain bacteria to grow. After having a shower, try to pat dry the vaginal and anal areas rather than rubbing them.
Avoid rubbing these areas as this can irritate your skin.
It is also helpful to urinate after sex in order to get rid of any bacteria that have been transferred. Finally, treat any sexually transmitted infection (STI) or vaginal infection as early as possible, before they trigger a b cystitis (e.g. thrush or trichomoniasis).
What to do when home remedies aren't enough
If the pain lasts for more than one or two days, you should see your doctor. You can ask for painkillers while you're being treated. The standard antibiotic course of MacroBid or Trimethoprim for an uncomplicated case of cystitis lasts for three days. Make sure you take the antibiotic exactly as prescribed by your doctor – even once the symptoms have disappeared.