A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a bacterial infection of the kidneys, ureters, or bladder. UTIs are common and not usually serious if treated right away. If you don’t take action, though, the infection can spread to your kidneys, which can get serious and cause permanent damage. That’s why it’s good to keep in mind some preventative measures for bladder health and other natural remedies for UTIs.
For the most part, the body flushes out harmful bacteria without a problem. But sometimes an infection can happen when those bacteria stick around, literally, by attaching themselves to the lining of the urinary tract.
Both male and female urinary tracts can be at risk for an attack by nasty bacteria. In fact, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), urinary tract infections are the second most common type of infection in the body, accounting for about 8.1 million visits to healthcare providers each year. The first most common infection, as you may have guessed, is upper respiratory tract infection (URI), like the common cold.
Recognizing the symptoms early is essential for early treatment. Ideally, urine should be light yellow and clear, and your body should send you a signal in advance, as opposed to the sudden bladder pressure or pain that comes with a UTI.
That annoying frequent urge to go, but then passing only a small amount of urine is a very common symptom to watch out for. You’ll also experience a burning or itching sensation when you pee. Check your urine in the toilet bowl – if it’s bloody or cloudy, dark in color, or bad-smelling, this can also be a sign of UTI. Women may have pelvic pain, whereas men might have rectal pain.
You might also have pain on one side of your back under your ribs (where your kidneys are). Other symptoms can include fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting. At this point, you should call your doctor right away. People with diabetes, kidney problems, or a weak immune system should be aware that UTIs can be more serious for their health.
Cranberry products offer minimal benefits for UTIs: Previous study
A new study has found that ingesting cranberry products may offer little benefit in preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs). The study looked at women living in a nursing home and the effects of cranberry capsules.
There was no significant difference between UTI rates among women taking the cranberry supplement and women who were not supplementing. On the other hand, researchers suggest that the study does not examine the benefits of cranberry juice in treating or preventing UTIs for younger women, so it may not be fair to rule out all cranberry products for all age groups.
Lead researcher Dr. Manisha Juthani-Mehta said, “Cranberry products have long been thought to prevent urinary tract infections, and many different cranberry products, including capsules, tablets, and powders, are promoted for this purpose, but this study did not show that this product worked.”
The study reveals that it may not be imperative that senior women living on a fixed income invest in cranberry supplements as a means of preventing UTIs. “Many people firmly believe in their cranberry product, and to those people, I tell them to continue what they feel works for them. There certainly seems to be little downside to drinking cranberry juice if you like it,” Dr. Juthani-Mehta continued.
Urinary tract infections are a common occurrence among elderly women, especially those living in nursing homes.
Rather than taking cranberry products, there are other means of preventing UTIs, such as keeping yourself clean, not holding in your urine, and wiping front to back.
How to prevent a UTI naturally
The good news is, there are natural remedies for UTIs. So if you act promptly when you have the first symptoms, such as burning when you urinate, you can get rid of UTI at the onset. Here’s what to do:
- Drink lots of water: What isn’t drinking water good for, really? It helps flush away the bacteria, putting you on track for recovery. Eight glasses a day is a general guideline. Add fresh lemon or lime to boost flavor and help with detoxification.
- Ease the pain with heat: Inflammation and irritation from UTI can leave you with pressure and pain around your pubic area or lower back. Try some heat therapy. Apply a heating pad at low temperature for about 10 to 15 minutes at a time.
- Get more vitamin C: This healthy vitamin found in berries (like cranberries!), citrus fruits, melons, and cabbage can help make your urine more acidic, which helps support a healthy urinary tract.
- Eat some yogurt:You want to blast those bad bacteria with good bacteria. If you’ve read anything about yogurt these days, you’ll know the popular dairy treat is packed with probiotics, or good bacteria, for your gut.
- Ditch the irritants: Now’s the time to focus on your health, so you want to cut out things that can irritate your bladder and make it harder for your body to heal. The culprits? Caffeine, nicotine, spicy food, alcohol, carbonated drinks, and those bad-for-you artificial sweeteners. On the upside, consume more high-fiber carbohydrates like grains, and healthy fats like nuts and olive oil – all good for digestion.
- Run to the bathroom: While it’s unpleasant and annoying, keep making those bathroom trips. Every time you go, even if you urinate only a small amount, you’re getting rid of some of the bad bacteria that’s causing the UTI.
- Wipe front to back: Another bathroom tip, always wipe from the front to back to avoid infection. Don’t try to reach from behind – germs from the rectum can be transferred to the toilet paper or your hand. Also, never wipe twice with the same tissue.
- Drink parsley water: It is a natural diuretic and can help flush out your system.
- Consume more blueberries: They contain ingredients that can work to prevent and treat UTIs.
- Consume diluted apple cider vinegar: It is a natural antibacterial, so it can help fight off bacteria in the urinary system.
Try these home remedies to keep your bladder in top form. They’re easier than you think – and a more natural fix than turning to your doctor for a prescription. So the next time you’re rushing to the bathroom, be aware of urinary tract infection symptoms.