One of the most common ailments, next to the common cold, is a urinary tract infection, or UTI. When a UTI hits, life can be completely disrupted, and patients can have trouble focusing on work, completing simple tasks, and sometimes even getting out of bed and moving around. Of course, the best thing to do to clear up a UTI is to visit a doctor and get a prescription for antibiotics. However, there are things that can be done at home to help treat the UTI, at least clearing up some of the most debilitating of the symptoms.
Defining a UTI
While some of the symptoms of a urinary tract infection may pertain to other ailments, some of which are more serious than others, determining when it’s time to see a physician based on the potential for a UTI is easy because the symptoms are fairly regular:
- Pain and burning during urination
- Frequent and urgent need to pee, often with little or no results
- Feeling like constantly needing to pee or as though the bladder is never completely empty
- Offensive smell from the urine
- Cloudy or thick urine
- Urine that is discolored or contains blood or pus
- Pain, pressure, or ache in the lower abdomen or lower back, and sometimes in the pelvis or flanks
The doctor will likely do a physical exam and get a urinalysis in order to test for bacteria in the urine. If this comes back positive, and there is an infection, the patient will probably receive a prescription for antibiotics, and the doctor may run a culture to determine the type of bacteria in case a different antibiotic is required. In the meantime, the prescription will probably be written under the assumption that the offensive infection is caused by E. coli, the most common cause of a UTI.
Of course, while a short course of antibiotics will clear up the infection, there is little to be done about the discomfort of the symptoms during the two to three days it takes the medication to clear up the UTI. This leaves most patients wondering how to control the pain and burning, as well as the need to run back and forth to the bathroom, especially when they aren’t peeing every time the urge hits.
Natural remedies for UTI symptoms
- Water and fluids. Urine is made up of excess water and waste that the kidneys pull out of the body, and when there isn’t enough fluid to dilute the waste, it’s harder for the fluid to pass through the rest of the urinary tract. More fluids, especially water, can help flush out the bacteria that the antibiotics are attempting to clear out by creating more urine so that this waste can be expelled more easily.
- Vitamin C. In clinical research, the acidity that vitamin C gives to the urine has shown promise in killing off the bacteria causing the infection. In addition, vitamin C may help reduce the risk of developing a UTI in the first place, making the fruits and vegetables that contain the vitamin essential, both in clearing up the infection faster and in preventing them from the start.
- Probiotics. These are microorganisms that promote a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut. Consumed through certain foods like yogurt or as a supplement, probiotics have shown promise in clearing up a UTI faster when paired with antibiotics, as well as helping to prevent the infection. Because they will help maintain the organic balance of the body, probiotics can work with the infection as well as keep the antibiotics from upsetting the body further during treatment and assist in reducing symptoms.
- Hygiene. First, it’s important to avoid holding in pee when the need to urinate arises. Second, for women, wiping from front to back assures that more bacteria won’t be drawn up into the urethra to increase the concentration of the infection. Don’t have sex when there is an active infection, and avoid the use of scented vaginal deodorants, soaps, and bubble baths at all times. Finally, don’t douche, during or after a UTI. This can increase the likelihood of contracting a recurring UTIs.
- Supplements. While supplements mostly assist in preventative measures against UTIs, there are some that are good for the body that can assist in lessening the irritation or in regaining the balance needed for good health and less disruption. For example, garlic has antimicrobial, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it great for reducing the effects of the UTI and keeping it from recurring.
When it comes to treating a urinary tract infection, it’s extremely important to get to a doctor. Especially if the infection has settled deeper into the urinary tract than the urethra or bladder, closing in on the kidneys, it’s likely to start causing complications and needs to be stopped in its tracks. In addition, recurring UTIs or chronic UTIs that are left untreated can cause infertility. Antibiotics are required to clear the infection. At the same time, to ease the pain and assist with comfort, there are plenty of home remedies and things a patient can do to stay active and function normally. Taking care of the body means finding every possible healthy method of relief so that a person doesn’t become bedridden with agony or discover too late that they’ve mistaken the symptoms for something else.