The urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are the bacterial infections of any part of the urinary system, which includes the kidneys, bladder, ureters (the tubes that propel urine from the kidneys to the bladder) and urethra (a tube that plays a key role in urine removal from the body).
There are three types of UTIs, including pyelonephritis (kidney infection), urethritis (urethra infection), and cystitis (bladder infection).
All three types of infections are very common among women due to their anatomy, albeit men and elderly are prone to them too. Children with a very weak immune system can develop the urinary infections, too.
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While the light forms of the infections can be cured within a few days, chronic conditions require a longer healing process.
What are the major causes of UTIs?
Even though we’re all at risk of developing UTIs, especially women, some factors indicate a higher risk of the infections. Here are the major causes of UTIs:
- Heavy or frequent intake of antibiotics that negatively affect the natural flora of the urinary tract and bowel;
- Use of tampons (especially the wrong sized) and spermicides;
- Weak immune system;
- Prolonged immobility;
- Procedures involving the urinary system;
- Contraception and sex toys;
- Kidney stones;
- Blocked flow of urine;
- Bowel incontinence;
- Urinary catheter;
- Trouble emptying the bladder fully;
- Poor personal hygiene;
- Intense, frequent, and with new or multiple partners sexual intercourse.
UTIs occur when the bacteria enter the urethra and then move to the bladder. In the bladder, the bacteria start multiplying. When ignores, the bacteria can move up to the kidneys, causing a kidney infection called pyelonephritis. An untreated UTI in the bladder and the kidneys can lead to permanent kidney damage. Sexually transmitted infections, including chlamydia and herpes, can also contribute to UTIs.
What are the major symptoms of UTIs?
The symptoms may vary from person to person and depend on the gender, age, the presence of a catheter, and other infections in the body. Moreover, when you suffer from any kind of illnesses, the symptoms of UTIs are often missed, especially in the elderly.
The most common symptoms of UTI are:
- Pain in the lower abdomen (rectal pain in men and pelvic pain in women);
- Lower back pain;
- Bloody urine;
- Cloudy urine;
- Burning sensation and sudden pain during the urinating process;
- A frequent and strong urge to urinate – even when the bladder is empty;
When you suffer from mild or chronic kidney infection, add the following symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Reddened or flushed skin;
- Severe pain in the back, sides, and/or groin area;
- Night sweats;
- Frequent chills.
How are UTIs treated?
Since it’s hard and dangerous to diagnose the exact type of UTIs at home, it’s always best to seek a professional medical help. As soon as you get your diagnose, you might be prescribed a medical treatment, depending on the complexity of the infection.
The medical treatment involves the use of antibiotics, which can worsen the symptoms of UTIs if you don’t take them carefully.
The uncomplicated forms of UTIs are typically treated within 2-3 days, while the more complicated forms take 7-14 days to cure. People with any changes in the anatomy of the urinary tract, or who had urinary tract surgery or have kidney stones, spinal cord injury, mental disorders, diabetes, or cancer require a special treatment. Pregnant women must take the right medication as well.
11 All-Natural UTI Treatments
Whether you want to prevent or cure uncomplicated forms of UTIs without turning to antibiotics, you may want to try these natural treatments. Be sure to consult your doctor before using any of them as the UTI treatment, though.
1.Stimulate frequent urination
The word “stimulate” doesn’t mean taking diuretics or any other medications that lead to frequent bathroom visits. You can stimulate frequent urination by drinking plenty of water or fruit-infused water.
The more often you urinate, the faster you get rid of the bacteria in the bladder. Skipping bathroom visits when you want or need it may lead to the bacteria growth, turning the mild symptoms of UTIs into chronic ones.
It’s also crucial to urinate after a sexual intercourse that pushes the bacteria deeper into your urethra. Urinating will help get any bacteria away from the urinary tract, preventing germs from spreading and causing UTIs.
2.Hydrate your body
As mentioned above, drinking water can help you eliminate the bacteria from your bladder. But there’s also another benefit of hydrating your body with more plain water. Plain water helps to dilute the urine and relieves the pain during urination that typically occurs when you suffer from any type of urinary tract infections.
If your urine is dark and concentrated and you feel a stab of pain when urinating, it’s a sign you need to drink more plain water – at least 8-9 glasses throughout the day.
3.Consume natural antibiotics
The basic antibiotics can either cure the infection or worse the symptoms. Not to mention the harm they cause to the gut health and immune system. Since a common treatment of UTIs requires a careful use of antibiotics, you may want to replace them with the natural ones – with your doctor’s permission, though.
Garlic, onions, raw Manuka honey, oregano oil, cabbage, and Echinacea are some of the best natural antibiotics that can help you fight infection with little to no harm to your well-being. Moderation is needed, though. Apart from powerful antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, natural antibiotics have antifungal and antiviral properties that kill candida albicans, which cause the yeast infections.
While yoga won’t kill the bacteria in the bladder, it helps to strengthen the pelvic muscles, prevent kidney stones, and reduce the pain associated with UTIs. However, it’s crucially important to not overstretch. If you’re new to yoga, it’s better to consult a pro yogi first to avoid any complications.
The most effective therapeutic asanas that aid in the treatment of UTIs are the Plough (Halasana), Cobra pose (Bhujangasana), Head to knee pose (Janu Shirsasna), Locust pose (Shalabhasana), Lotus pose (Padmasana), Shoulder stand (Sarvangasana), Cat pose (Marajariasana), and Camel pose (Ustrasana).
5.Keep the urethra dry
After urination, make sure you wipe from front to back – not otherwise – to prevent the bacteria from getting into the urethra. Also, be sure you wear loose-fitting underwear and pants or jeans, which let the air in, keeping the urethra dry. Avoid wearing nylon clothing and too tight jeans as they trap the moisture, promoting the bacteria growth.
6.Eliminate the bladder irritants from your daily eating plan
Some of the most common bladder irritants are the foods that contain artificial sweeteners, carbonated drinks, spicy foods, alcoholic drinks, caffeine (coffee and teas), and fried and processed foods.
Add more foods high in fiber like beans, lentils, berries, Brussels sprouts, artichokes, and acorn squash. These foods will improve your digestive health and boost your immunity, making it easier for your body to combat the bacteria.
7.Apply a heating pad
Irritation and inflammation from UTIs cause pressure, burning, and sometimes severe pain around the pubic area. If you don’t feel like taking the painkillers, consider using a heating pad. Place a heating pad with the heat setting low, across your back or abdominal area for 10 to 15 minutes to relieve the dull ache. Never apply a heating pad directly to the skin; wear a t-shirt to prevent burns. If you don’t have a heating pad, you can use a warm compress the same way as you use a heating pad. Don’t soak a towel in hot water as you can only increase the pain.
8.Boost your probiotic intake
According to the Indian Journal of Urology, the gut health and benign bacterial flora are vital for preventing the overgrowth of the bacteria and other microorganisms that lead to UTIs.
That’s why you should always have the foods rich in probiotics in your weekly meal plan. Consider eating the homemade or plain yogurts, including low-fat Greek yogurt, fermented milk drinks like kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, and other fermented foods.
9.Have a glass of cranberry juice
Multiple studies have shown that cranberry juice can help to manage the symptoms of UTIs, especially in women with recurrent or chronic UTIs. Even though cranberries, cranberry juice, and cranberry supplements are mostly used to prevent the infections, a study done by several researchers suggest that freshly juiced cranberries can ward off the bladder infections as well.
Since cranberry juice and supplement have the side effects, make sure you talk to your doctor before using it as a natural treatment. But, a glass of cranberry juice instead of orange one in the morning will never hurt.
10.Check your vitamin C intake
Vitamin C deficiency can contribute to UTIs and slow down the recovery process. This vitamin inhibits the growth of the most common bacteria seen in UTIs called E. coli and boosts your immune function, helping your body cope with the bacteria more efficiently.
It’s better to get your daily vitamin C dose from the natural sources, such as oranges, grapefruit, bell peppers, guavas, dark green leafy veggies, kiwifruit, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, berries, tomatoes, etc. Vitamin C supplementation is possible as well.
A study conducted by the University of Colima, Mexico, showed that taking 100 milligrams of vitamin C each day helped to treat the urinary infections during pregnancy. Again, any supplementation treatment must be discussed with a doctor.
11.Take advantage of essential oils
The essential oils, such as oregano, myrrh, and clove essential oils can all be effective in the UTI treatment.
The oregano oil helps to prevent antibiotic-resistant strain development, speed up the healing process in the bacterial infections, and inhibit the growth of E. coli.
The myrrh essential oil boasts the potent antiparasitic, antifungal, and antibacterial properties, aiding in the bacteria prevention.
The clove essential oil has antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties that help to fight the bacteria, promote healing, and reduce the pain.
Any essential oil must be used under the care of a nutritionist or health care provider. Don’t use them internally unless your doctor advice you.
Even though these 11 UTI remedies are all natural and have been researched and proven to combat the bacteria, it’s vital to use any of them with the guidance of your doctor.
If you often suffer from urinary infections, try to reconsider your lifestyle. Make sure your meal plan includes all the essential nutrients and you get enough sleep. Smoking and drinking are the two bad habits that can contribute to UTIs as well.
UTIs are more common during the cold seasons, so keeping your feet and pelvic area can reduce the likelihood of the infections. Finally, switch to the fragrance- and chemical-free personal hygiene products and take warm bath each day. Pay attention to your sexual life as well.