Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, occur when bacteria enter and colonize the tube that extends from your bladder to the outside world. Urinary tract infections are far more common in women than in men; in fact, the University of Maryland Medical Center states that over 50 percent of adult women will experience at least one UTI in their lifetime. Symptoms include a strong urge to urinate, a burning sensation upon urination and blood in the urine. Antibiotics can take care of a UTI quickly, but home remedies can also be useful in both prevention and treatment. If, however, you start to run a fever or feel pain in your back or abdomen, see a doctor immediately.
If you’re prone to UTIs, drinking unsweetened cranberry juice may be able to help prevent recurrent infections as well as shorten the length of an ongoing infection. There is some limited scientific data to suggest that certain compounds in cranberries prevent bacteria from latching onto the surfaces of your bladder and urinary tract. You can also try taking cranberry extract pills. Cranberry juice is generally considered safe even in large doses, although it may irritate your stomach and gastrointestinal system and cause an upset stomach or diarrhea.
Uva ursi, or bearberry, is a medicinal herb that has been traditionally used to treat urinary complaints of various sorts. AltMd.com notes that “it is a famous herbal cure for cystitis,” another term for a UTI. The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests taking 250-500 mg of uva ursi extract three times daily for up to four days. You can also make a tea from the leaves: pour one pint of boiling water over one ounce of dried leaves; let steep and cool. Drink this tea up to four times a day. People with high blood pressure or kidney conditions and pregnant women should not use uva ursi.
Vitamin C is a known immune booster and antioxidant. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends taking 500 to 1000 mg of the vitamin once or twice daily until the infection passes. Avoid high doses of of vitamin C if you have kidney problems.
Drink extra fluids and stay hydrated if you’re experiencing a UTI. This helps flush out the bacteria. Avoid coffee and alcohol as well as any other bladder irritants including acidic food and drink such as citrus. Avoid sweetened drinks as well. Use a warm heating pad on your abdomen to reduce discomfort.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Holding it in when you have to go, wearing thongs, wet bathing suits, or super tight pants, and not drinking enough are all things to avoid. You should also pee before AND after sex.
References and ResourcesMayo Clinic: Urinary Tract Infection
University of Maryland Medical Center: Urinary Tract Infections in Women
Huffington Post: UTI Home Remedies -- What Works, What Doesn't
AltMD: Uva Ursi
University of Maryland Medical Center: Uva Ursi
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Cranberry