Urinary tract infections (UTI) are very common, particularly in women. A UTI is an infection of the urinary system, which includes your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Usually, UTIs are an infection of the lower urinary tract, which is your bladder and urethra.
Urinary tract infections happen when bacteria enter your body through the urethra and then spread and multiply in the bladder. The growing bacteria can cause an infection of the urinary tract.
While some people with a UTI don’t experience symptoms, others do. Symptoms may include:
- A strong, constant feeling that you need to urinate
- A burning feeling when you urinate
- Cloudy urine
- Blood in the urine (including pink, red, or brown urine)
- Pain in the pelvis, especially in the center
You may be able to cure a mild urinary tract infection at home.
Remedies and Treatment for UTI
Uncomplicated urinary tract infections sometimes go away on their own. In one study, 21 out of 28 women’s infections disappeared without treatment.
Here are a few UTI remedies you can try at home to relieve symptoms and speed your recovery:
Cranberries have been used to treat UTIs for centuries. This is because cranberries contain proanthocyanidins, chemicals that prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract. Cranberries also contain quinic acid, which works to kill bacteria in the urinary tract.
While some studies have found that cranberry juice or pills may help treat UTIs, other studies have found no positive effects of cranberries. Even if cranberries don’t actually help treat UTIs, the fruit is unlikely to cause you harm. However, don’t drink cranberry juice if you’re on blood thinners, like warfarin.
Avoid Diuretics and Irritants
Certain drinks may irritate the bladder, including coffee, alcohol, citrus and caffeinated drinks. Avoiding these liquids may help you relieve some symptoms, such as burning during urination. These drinks may act as mild diuretics, which may make you need to urinate more frequently, possibly making the UTI symptoms more irritating.
Probiotics, live bacteria found in some foods and supplements, are important in maintaining natural balance in the vagina, urethra, and bladder. Probiotic supplements help avoid an overgrowth of E. Coli, the bacteria that commonly cause UTIs. Studies are conflicting if probiotics can help treat or prevent UTIs, but risks of using them are low. Probiotics can be found in foods like yogurt. Probiotic pills can also be taken by mouth or inserted into the vagina.
Use a Heating Pad
Another simple home remedy is placing a heating pad on your abdomen. This can help lessen your discomfort.
Make sure you are drinking plenty of water to help flush out your urinary system.
Instead of only treating UTIs, you can make a point to avoid them. There are several actions you can take to help avoid urinary tract infections in the future. Follow these tips to help prevent UTIs long-term:
- Urinate after having sex to help flush out any bacteria
- Stay hydrated, and don’t resist the urge to urinate
- Wipe from front to back after urinating or defecating
- Avoid diaphragms and spermicide condoms
- Avoiding scented products near your genital region, as they can irritate the urethra
Increased levels of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in your diet may also help prevent urinary tract infections. Scientists believe that this is because vitamin C makes the urine more acidic, which helps to prevent bacterial infections of the urinary tract.
When to See a Doctor
If your urinary tract infection does not clear up on its own, your doctor can prescribe antibiotics.
UTIs can be dangerous if the infection spreads to your kidneys. Go see your doctor if you experience fevers, shaking, nausea, or vomiting, as these may be signs of a more serious infection.
If a UTI is left untreated, kidney damage can occur. Sepsis, a life-threatening medical emergency, is also possible. In pregnant women, leaving a UTI untreated can lead to premature birth. In men, it can lead to narrowing of the urethra.