What is a urinary tract infection (UTI)?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in the urinary system, which includes the kidneys, bladder, urethra, and ureters. Usually, UTIs happen in the lower urinary tract, which consists of the bladder and urethra.
Women are more prone to developing urinary tract infections than men due to anatomical reasons. The urethra in females is much shorter and is closer to the anus, thereby making a woman more susceptible to ascending infections. When left untreated, the infection can spread to the kidneys, which can be dangerous.
UTIs are usually treated using antibiotics. However, there are certain cases where bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics leading to recurrent infections. In such instances, home remedies for UTIs are beneficial. There are home remedies that can completely get rid of bacteria to minimize the risk of having recurrent UTIs. Scroll down to learn 12 natural home remedies for UTIs.
Home Remedies for Treating UTIs
1. Increase Your Fluid Intake
Individuals with a UTI should drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to flush out the bacteria from the system. Not drinking enough fluids is one of the causes of UTIs since not urinating often can promote the growth of harmful bacteria in the urinary tract leading to infections. Hence, it is better to stay hydrated, especially when you have a UTI. Drink a minimum of one glass of water for every meal or snack consumed in a day to eliminate bacteria, which lead to the infection.
2. Stay Hygienic
After a bowel movement, it is a must for women to wipe from front to back to ensure that bacteria do not get into the urethra. Apart from maintaining a good hygiene, women should avoid wearing tight-fitting underwear or clothes, especially tight jeans or clothes made of nylon material since wearing them can increase moisture, which is a good breeding ground for bacteria to grow. Wear loose-fitting clothes and underwear that would allow airflow to dry the urethra.
3. Urinate as Often as Possible
Whenever the urge arises, it is always good to urinate since it would not allow bacteria to grow in the urine, which stays in the bladder. Also, after sexual intercourse, try to urinate as soon as possible to eliminate bacteria, which may have entered into the urethra. According to studies, holding urine for too long can lead to the growth of bacteria within the urinary tract, thereby leading to a urinary tract infection.
4. Take Probiotics
One of the most promising home remedies for urinary tract infections is increasing one's intake of probiotic food items, especially in recurrent UTIs due to bacterial resistance. Probiotics promote the growth of good bacteria in the human body. They also serve as a line of defense. It is also beneficial to consume fermented foods since they help restore the body’s natural flora as well as recolonize the bladder with good bacteria. Some examples of fermented foods include kefir, raw cheese, yogurt, kimchi, and kombucha.
5. Baking Soda
Baking soda is considered as a miraculous substance, which can offer a lot of benefits from easing heartburn to relieving the symptoms of UTI. Being an alkaline substance, it helps reduce or neutralize the level of acidity in the urine.
There are some individuals who resist urination due to the burning sensation it comes along with. In such cases, baking soda would be really helpful. To use baking soda as a remedy, add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to a glass of water. Stir the mixture to completely dissolve the baking soda. Drink this mixture first thing in the morning upon waking up. However, a word of caution is that since baking soda is high in sodium, it is better to not carry out this remedy for more than a week.
Garlic is considered as a natural home remedy for a lot of health problems. Freshly crushed raw garlic contains the active compound allicin. Garlic is also loaded with antimicrobial properties. When garlic is in its pure form, its allicin content is known to exhibit antibacterial activities against a lot of bacterial strains, which include Escherichia coli or commonly called as E. coli. Garlic also has antifungal properties that fight Candida, which leads to yeast infections.
7. Celery Seeds
Celery seeds act as a diuretic due to its butylphthalide content. To help increase the production of urine, you can chew a handful of celery seeds. You can also make celery seed water by boiling water and adding some celery seeds to it. After boiling, simmer and leave it for ten minutes. Strain the mixture and consume it while it is still hot. If you prefer snacking on the seeds, then once or twice a day after meals would do wonders to prevent UTIs.
Studies have shown that drinking cranberry juice can lead to a reduction in the number of UTIs a person can develop in a year. This is especially helpful for women who suffer from recurrent cases of UTIs. However, there is still no confirmed evidence to prove the effectiveness of cranberry juice against UTIs. However, it is best used as a preventive measure.
In certain animal studies, it was proven that cranberry would work well by inhibiting the growth of bacteria that led to the infection. E. coli is one of the most common bacteria seen in many urinary tract infection cases. The bacteria that causes UTIs have hair-like appendages called fimbriae. This makes it possible for the bacteria to cling onto the lining of the urethra. Cranberry juice contains acidic substances, thereby making it harder for bacterial fimbriae to stick to the lining. This would lead to a reduction in the chances of infection. It can also make it difficult for the bacteria to grow in such acidic environment. There have been studies that showed that cranberry juice did help, especially for those women who have recurring bouts of UTIs.
To make this work, one should be drinking a decent amount of the cranberry juice. However, the only disadvantage of drinking cranberry juice often is that it would lead to stomachaches. Hence, it is best to consult the doctor before trying out this remedy.
Cucumbers are commonly eaten as snacking item or used as part of a salad before meals. However, the best part is that cucumbers are high in water content, making it a great way to increase one's fluid intake when it becomes difficult to drink plenty of water all the time.
10. Taking Vitamin C
Vitamin C makes the urine more acidic, helps inhibits the growth of bacteria, and enhances the function of the immune system. According to research, the daily intake of 100 mg vitamin C plays an important role in treating urinary tract infections during pregnancy. Also, when vitamin C treatment is given for a period of three months, then it can effectively reduce urinary tract infections, thus improving the health of pregnant women.
11. Myrrh Oil
Myrrh oil possesses antibacterial, antiparasitic, and antifungal properties. In the past, it was used as a treatment for preventing infections and for healing wounds. This oil can be applied topically along with some warm or cold compresses. It can also be directly rubbed on the skin. However, this oil should be used with caution and always go for a good quality and pure product.
12. Clove Oil
Clove oil is also loaded with antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. One of clove oil's main benefits is that it possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which is great in providing pain relief and also promote a faster healing process. You can internally take clove for a period of two weeks. However, it is still best to consult a nutritionist or a doctor before usage.
Ginger is loaded with anti-inflammatory properties. The chemical make-up of ginger allows it to block prostaglandin synthesis, which is a process to create messengers. The prostaglandins communicate with the brain about a varied number of biological processes, which also includes inflammation. These prostaglandins also transmit pain-related signals to the neurons. Thus, it can help in the prevention of inflammation, provide relief from pain and also reduce any kind of current inflammation. This is the same effect, which is usually provided by over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs. However, the only difference is that ginger does it smoothly without any side effects.
The blueberries come from the same genus as cranberries called Vaccinium. Similar to cranberries, blueberries can also keep infections at bay by causing an effect to bacterial fimbriae that try to attach itself to the urinary tract leading to an infection. However, the pure form of blueberries is something that is not easy to get as cranberries are mostly mixed up with grapes or apple juice. Hence, try consuming whole berries instead. They can be made part of the daily breakfast or mid-morning snack.
The inflammation and irritation due to urinary tract infections are also something to worry about since they cause a lot of pain and discomfort. In such cases, it is better to apply some heat over the bladder to provide some relief. The gentle warmth would relax the muscles, thus reducing the pain caused by inflammation and spasms. You can fill a hot water bag with moderately hot water, wrap it in a towel (if required), and place it over the bladder in a lying position. You can leave the water bag as long as you like, so that the muscles will relax without causing any tension.
16. Shift to Healthy Habits
Along with medications and trying out home remedies, certain lifestyle changes would help achieve a faster recovery from UTIs and other kinds of infection. The changes would include quitting smoking, wiping clean from front to back after bowel movements, not wear tight-fitting clothes, and wearing loose and cotton clothing and underwear.
17. Dietary Changes
Certain foods can also worsen an existing UTI. Hence, you should be aware of such foods and cut it from your diet until the infection is completely resolved. Caffeine, spicy foods, alcohol, aerated drinks, and foods with artificial sweeteners can cause more irritation to the bladder, which would make it hard for the body to heal even if one is taking medications. Try to focus more on consuming healthy foods such as foods rich in fiber since they are also good for your digestion.