Urinary tract infections affect millions of people every year. Though they’re traditionally treated with antibiotics, there are also many home remedies available that help treat them and prevent them from reoccurring.
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that affects any part of the urinary tract, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra. Bacteria from the bowel are the most common cause of UTIs, but fungi and viruses can also cause infection. The two strains of bacteria Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus saprophyticus account for about eighty per cent of cases. Common symptoms of UTI include: a burning sensation when peeing, frequent urination, cloudy or dark urine, urine with a strong odor, a feeling of incomplete bladder emptying and pelvic pain.
Though UTIs can affect anyone, women are more prone to infection. This is because the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the bladder, is shorter in women than men. This makes it easier for bacteria to enter and reach the bladder. In fact, nearly half of all women will experience a UTI at some point in their lives. Antibiotics are used to treat UTIs and are sometimes used in low doses long-term to prevent recurrence. There are also several natural ways to protect against infections and reduce the risk of recurrence.
Drinking Fluids For UTI Relief-
Hydration status has been linked to the risk of urinary tract infection. This is because regular urination can help flush bacteria from the urinary tract to prevent infection. One study examined participants with long-term urinary catheters and found that low urine output was associated with an increased risk of developing a UTI.
A 2008 study looked at 141 girls and showed that low fluid intake and infrequent urination were both linked to recurrent UTIs. In another study, 28 women self-monitored their hydration status using a probe to measure their urine concentration. They found that an increase in fluid intake led to a decrease in UTI frequency. To stay hydrated and meet your fluid needs, it’s best to drink water throughout the day and always when you’re thirsty.
Vitamin C For UTI Relief-
Some evidence shows that increasing your intake of vitamin C could protect against urinary tract infections. Vitamin C is thought to work by increasing the acidity of the urine, thereby killing off the bacteria that cause infection.
A 2005 study of UTIs in pregnant women looked at the effects of taking 100 mg of vitamin C every day.
The study found that vitamin C had a protective effect, cutting the risk of UTIs by more than half in those taking vitamin C compared to the control group.
Another study looked at behavioral factors that affected the risk of UTIs and found that a high vitamin C intake decreased the risk. Fruits and vegetables are especially high in vitamin C and are a good way to increase your intake. Red peppers, oranges, grapefruit and kiwifruit all contain the full recommended amount of vitamin C in just one serving.
Cranberry Juice And UTI Relief-
Drinking unsweetened cranberry juice is one of the most well-known natural remedies for urinary tract infections. Cranberries work by preventing bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract, thus preventing infection. In one recent study, women with recent histories of UTIs drank an 8 ounce serving of cranberry juice every day for 24 weeks. Those who drank cranberry juice had fewer UTI episodes than the control group.
Another study showed that consuming cranberry products may lower the number of UTIs in a year, especially for women who have recurrent UTIs. A recent study showed that treatment with cranberry juice capsules equivalent to two 8-ounce servings of cranberry juice could cut the risk of urinary tract infections in half. However, some other studies suggest that cranberry juice may not be as effective in the prevention of UTIs.
One review looked at 24 studies with a total of 4,473 participants. Though some smaller studies did find that cranberry products could reduce UTI frequency, other larger studies found no benefit.
Although the evidence is mixed, cranberry juice may be helpful in reducing the risk of urinary tract infections.