There are a large number of home remedies for a urinary tract infection (UTI) that appear to be helpful in either relieving the symptoms or curing the ailment, which is usually caused by bacteria. Those listed below have, for the most part, withstood the test of time and appear to work for most people. UTIs can take a serious turn and should never be ignored, but when caught early and if the symptoms are relatively mild, the right home remedy may be all the treatment that is needed.
Where UTI Can Occur
Urine consists of a number of different waste products, along with salts and fluids. Urine is normally bacteria-free, but that doesn’t mean it can’t harbor bacteria. Infections can occur anywhere in the urinary tract, which consists of the kidneys, the ureter, the bladder, and the urethra, and is named according to the area where the bacteria are present.
For example, an infection of the kidney is called pyelonephritis, whereas that in one of the ureters is called ureteritis. A case of cystitis means your bladder is infected. In most instances, the infection occurs in the urethra, where urine is emptied from the bladder. This is also the area that’s easiest to treat. The kidneys are most likely to be affected when there is an obstruction that allows urine to back up into the ureters and the kidneys.
The two most common causes of UTI among women are a yeast infection in the tract through which urine passes or an invasion of E. coli bacteria. E. coli bacteria do not normally live in the urinary system’s tract, but are found in the colon, where they, by and large, are kept under control. However, if these bacteria are able to find their way from the rectum to the vaginal area, an infection can occur. Certain food additives, particularly sweets, can encourage bacterial growth in the urinary tract. As you look through the various home remedies for UTIs, you’ll notice that fruit juices can be effective, but only if they are unsweetened. A third cause of UTI is dehydration, since it places stress on the kidneys, which can make it easier for bacteria to multiply.
In men, two of the most common causes of UTI are microorganisms that are spread through sexual activity, especially anal sex. These microorganisms are called Chlamydia and Mycoplasma. Another cause of UTI in men, especially older men, is a urinary obstruction, often due to either kidney stones or an enlarged prostate.
Symptoms often include a frequent urge to urinate, passing only small amounts of urine at a time; abdominal pain, a burning sensation when urinating; nausea; changes in the color of the urine; and possibly fever.
The easiest and most effective way to treat UTI is through the administration of antibiotics. Symptoms can vary from person to person; for example, some older people who have an infection don’t experience any symptoms at all. UTIs are much more common in women, especially in those after menopause.
Antibiotics are Effective – But Can Cause Side Effects
There are some pros and cons to be taken into account when deciding whether to treat UTI with prescription drugs, or whether to try a home remedy. There are obviously times when the best recourse is to have your doctor prescribe an antibiotic, which usually provides fast results, but some of the more common antibiotics used to fight UTI have known side effects. In cases where the infection appears to be a mild one, and the symptoms are not particularly severe, there are a number of home remedies for UTI that are successful. Home remedies will tend to work a bit slower, but can be just as effective as prescription medication. If the infection is a severe one however, time can be of the essence. Waiting too long to clear up UTI could result in damage to the kidneys.
Home Remedies That Work for Most People
Bearing in mind that what works for one person may not work for another, seven of more widely used home remedies for UTI are described here, along with why they to work. A few have been scientifically proven to be effective, while others offer sometimes conflicting evidence. None appear to be likely to cause any harm, with the exception of herbal supplements, some of which could create problems just as certain prescribed medications can cause more problems than they resolve. Successful treatment of UTI can sometimes depend as much on what you don’t eat or drink as it does on what remedy you take. Sugar should be avoided, and caffeine can, at times, make recovery more difficult as well.
Cranberries and Cranberry Juice
Cranberry juice is an antibiotic, though a rather mild one. Eating cranberries or drinking cranberry juice helps slow down and stop UTI because of a chemical in cranberries that prevents bacteria from reaching the walls of the urethra and thereby from causing an infection. Drinking several glasses of unsweetened cranberry juice a day will also help to protect the kidneys if UTI has taken hold. Cranberry juice is not a good idea, however, for anyone who has kidney stones or has a history of kidney stones. It should be noted that although cranberry juice can definitely help to treat UTI, drinking it on a regular basis seems to do little to prevent infections from occurring.
Add Tree Tea Oil to Your Bathwater
Tree tea oil has definite bacteria-fighting characteristics but it is not to be taken orally. Adding a few drops of the oil to your bathwater is said to be highly effective in fighting off a UTI. The purpose is to wash out your urethra opening, as this is where the infection is most often present. This method works for women only. Not only are the bacteria dealt with, but using tree tea oil in this manner can also serve to relieve any pain you might be experiencing. Tree tea oil is most effective if it is added to the bathwater every day over a period of about a week.
Blueberries Fight Infection
Blueberries are one of the so-called super foods because of both their nutritional and healing properties. They are especially rich in antioxidants, but also have bacteria-inhibiting properties. Blueberries are also known to benefit the immune system due to its ability to fight off infections. Adding them to your diet can certainly help you avoid UTI, but if you already have an infection, a glass or two a day of the unsweetened juice will often bring quick results. If you find the unsweetened juice is not to your liking you can mix in some apple juice. Just don’t add sugar!
Eat or Drink Something Rich in Vitamin C
One of the many good things about Vitamin C is that it will make your urine more acidic if you’re taking enough of it. When your urine is more acidic it becomes harder for bacteria to gain a foothold. A normal, healthy diet will usually contain plenty of vitamin C, but taking supplements can help to both prevent and treat a UTI. Vitamin C does not appear to be harmful, or become toxic when consumed in large amounts. Your body uses the vitamin C it needs and disposes of the rest, sending it as waste through the urinary tract where it will continue to do good. Foods particularly rich in vitamin C are gooseberries, raspberries, bananas, tomatoes, and most citrus fruits.
A teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water taken once or twice a day is often an effective pain reliever and will tend to speed up a UTI recovery. Baking soda, contrary to vitamin C, will make your urine more alkaline, and is also effective in UTI prevention.
Herbal Supplements and Concoctions – a Cautionary Note
There is a herbal supplement of one kind or another for just about anything that ails you. If you’re planning to try herbal supplements to either treat UTI or prevent an infection from occurring, it’s always best to check first with your doctor, especially if you have a systemic disease, or if you are on a specific medication. Here is a list of herbal remedies that might be worth trying:
- Diuretic herbs help to keep water moving through the bladder and assist in flushing out bacteria.
- Anti-spasmodic herbs act as effective pain relievers, as do demulcent herbs.
- Astringent herbs tone mucosal membranes throughout the body. Membranes that are toned and tightened become less susceptible to invasive bacteria and other pathogens.
- Immune system-stimulating herbs help fight infection.
- Anti-bacterial herbs, as the name implies, kill off bacteria, often stopping the infection in its tracks.
Last, But Far from Least – Water
Water is not normally thought of as being an infection fighter. Nevertheless, one of the best things you can do to prevent or treat a UTI is to drink plenty of water. If you’re not drinking enough water, extra stress is being placed on many of the organs in your body, especially on the kidneys, and especially if you allow yourself to become dehydrated. A lack of water, therefore, could leave your body, including your urinary tract, more susceptible to infections. If you drink more water than necessary, you will naturally eliminate it more often than usual. This is where water can help fight off UTI. Frequent urination helps to flush out the bacteria that have invaded your urinary tract and will therefore enable you to recover from an infection all that much faster.
Treating UTI While Pregnant
While UTI will sometimes go away by itself, disregarding UTI is not an option for if you are pregnant. If the infection should spread to the kidneys it could prove harmful to both you and the baby.
Pregnant women are more susceptible to UTIs, due to the bladder being more and more subjected to pressures, including being shoved around, as a fetus grows. This can make it less likely to be completely emptied, and therefore more susceptible to becoming infected. Most of the home remedies described above are safe to take, although extra caution should be taken in the case of herbs or herbal supplements. It would be best to ask your obstetrician or your doctor before taking any. Some, but not all antibiotic medicines are safe to take.