A bladder infection is an extremely uncomfortable condition that can affect the lower urinary tract, and more than 50 percent of all women will suffer from at least one bladder infection at some point in their life. The traditional treatment method for bladder infections is a course of antibiotics; however, taking antibiotics can cause a range of other unwanted health problems, including a higher risk of contracting other infections.
The following natural remedies can help to encourage bladder health, reduce the risk of bladder infection, and if your infection is caught early enough, may also help to treat your bladder infection without the need for antibiotics.
5 natural ways to increase your bladder health:
1. Prepare your chicken properly
E. coli bacteria are estimated to be the cause of more than 80 percent of all bladder infections, and chickens are a carrier of a particularly nasty strain of E. coli bacteria that is resistant to antibiotic treatment. Consuming chickens that are infected with E. coli may result in the antibiotic-resistant bacteria being transferred to you. This can result in a very difficult-to-treat bladder infection, or an infection that seems to go away but then keeps on coming back. It is highly recommended that you properly and thoroughly cook chicken to ensure that all bacteria are completely killed before consuming your meal.
2. Drink cranberry juice
Cranberry juice has been found to reduce the risk of developing a bladder infection by 35 percent. Studies show that certain compounds in cranberry juice prevent E. coli bacteria from sticking to the bladder. In fact, just hours after drinking cranberry juice, the ability of E. coli bacteria to adhere to your bladder will drop, and the effects will last throughout much of the day.
Unfortunately, once the E. coli has adhered and a full-on infection has developed, cranberry juice will not be able to detach and eliminate the bacteria. However, drinking it certainly won’t hurt and it may help prevent the infection from worsening. Just be sure to drink sugar-free cranberry juice, because sugar is a major immune suppressant and can reduce your body’s ability to fight infections.
3. Baking soda
Add 1 tsp. of baking soda to one cup of cold water and drink up. Baking soda is high in alkaline and it can help to reduce the acidity of your urine. The acidity of your urine causes the painful burning sensation associated with bladder infections, so when you reduce the acidity, you can also reduce the pain and the frequent urges to urinate. Too much acidity also encourages infections to grow and proliferate, so drinking baking soda may also help to both prevent and treat bladder infections.
4. Uva ursi
Uva ursi (also known as bearberry) is a herb that can be made into a tea, and drinking it can help to restore bladder health and may even help put an end to chronic bladder infections. Uva ursi is helpful for two reasons: First, it has diuretic properties that help to flush out the kidneys; second, it contains a compound called arbutin, which is converted in the body into the compound hydroquinone. Hydroquinone has antiseptic properties that may help kill off E. coli bacteria. The compound is thought to be most effective as an antiseptic when it is taken in an alkaline environment, so combining it with the baking soda drink may help increase your results.
5. Alter your diet
A healthy bladder will not be a good host for E. coli bacteria, and removing added sugars, alcohol, and refined foods from your diet will go a long way towards increasing your bladder health. You should also consume plenty of raw fruits and vegetables. This will help prevent your body from becoming overly acidic and it will encourage a healthy immune system, which will encourage your body to fight off the bladder infection. Be sure to drink plenty of water, as doing so will ensure that your bladder is constantly being flushed out so that bacteria won’t have a chance to adhere and proliferate on your bladder walls.
The above recommendations will enhance your bladder health; however, the infection may be too strong and resistant to natural remedies, and it is vital that you consult with a healthcare practitioner if your symptoms don’t resolve within three days.
Lifestyle tips to prevent bladder infection
Let it out: You can reduce the risk of UTIs by making sure you completely empty your bladder when you urinate. Contracting your muscles to stop the flow of urine before your bladder is empty will draw urine back into the bladder, which may be accompanied by bacteria.
Drink the right amount of fluids: Six to eight glasses of water a day can help flush your system of bacteria that can cause bladder infections, although drinking too much water can cause you to need to go more often, which is more likely to lead to holding urine in the bladder, causing complications.
Walk it off: If you are stuck in a sedentary job that has you spending most of the day sitting, fluid may build up in your legs throughout the day. At night, the fluid build-up may cause you to feel the urge to urinate more frequently. You can prevent this sensation by going for a walk during the day to stop the build-up from forming.
Quit smoking: Tobacco use can double or triple your risk of bladder cancer, so those who smoke or use other tobacco products should do their best to cut back and quit these habits.
Take care when having sex: Urinating before and after intercourse can help flush out any bacteria in your urethra that can cause a bladder infection. Cleaning the genital area before and after sex can also help to prevent the spread of bacteria and any resulting infections.
Watch what you eat: Acidic foods like oranges and tomatoes can cause flare-ups of interstitial cystitis—a condition that causes bladder pain, urgent urination, and even urinary incontinence.
Plan your beverages: If you find you often have to urinate at inopportune times and are left holding it, you may need to better time when you drink fluids. For example, stop drinking two hours before bedtime and ensure you empty your bladder before getting into bed to prevent holding your urine overnight or having to get up frequently.
Track your habits: If you think you are urinating too often, keep a diary detailing what you drink and when, as well as how often you feel the need to urinate. This information may help your doctor diagnose if you have a bladder infection or another underlying issue.