When I get a UTI, I find myself running to the bathroom every ten minutes and praying for relief. These are the remedies that work for me.
Even a mild urinary tract infection (UTI) can send us running to the bathroom every ten minutes, praying for relief and cursing our wretched bladders. While antibiotics are the best way to treat this condition, there are some home remedies that can both dull the pain and help with that gotta-go-now feeling.
Most antibiotics will take a few days to work, so home remedies are the best way to get through the waiting period. Antibiotics are also more effective when combined with other treatments like flushing, cranberry juice or supplements, and adequate hydration.
Signs and Symptoms of UTI
The most common signs and symptoms of a UTI, sometimes called a bladder infection, include:
- A frequent urge to urinate, with very little coming out
- Burning or painful urination
- Blood in the urine
- Lower abdominal or lower back pain
A doctor will normally do a urinalysis to test for a UTI, but will sometimes diagnose them based on symptoms, especially for frequent sufferers. The best way to treat this condition is with antibiotics, because when they go untreated they can affect the kidneys and have serious health implications. But while you're waiting to see the doctor, or until the antibiotics start working their magic, try these simple tips for quick relief.
Cranberry juice is one of the oldest ways of treating bladder infections, and the best option for quick relief. It works not because cranberries kill infection-causing bacteria, but because cranberries change the PH of the bladder and urinary tract. The PH that results from drinking cranberry juice makes it difficult for germs and bacteria to stick to the bladder walls. The bacteria that are causing the infection then get washed right out the door.
Cranberry juice is most effective in mass quantities. Treating a UTI with cranberry juice will mean a good sized bottle or two in the fridge. For best results, alternate one glass of water for one glass of juice for a couple of days.
Caution: Cranberries are naturally incredibly bitter, and a lot of brands compensate for that by adding sugar or high fructose corn syrup, which can make the infection worse. Always buy a juice that is labeled as 100% juice, and check the ingredients to watch out for sugar and fructose. Blended juices are fine, most cranberry juices that don't include sugar are sweetened naturally by apple juice or another sweeter fruit.
Cranberry supplements are a great alternative for people who can't stomach the juice. Available in the vitamin section of most drugstores, they are cheaper in the long run than buying juice. Even if you are drinking copious amounts of cranberry juice, a few of the supplements with a glass of water won't hurt.
Many women who have chronic UTIs find that taking a cranberry pill or two a day help to ward off the infections. At the first sign of bladder discomfort, a healthy dosing of cranberry pills can often stave off the infection, making the trip to the doctor unnecessary.
While cranberry helps to get the bad bacteria out, a good old flushing of the system is essential to the recovery process. Just like cleaning out your sink, a good stream of water is preferable to a dribble. Many doctors even tell patients that flushing still has to be done even with an antibiotic treatment.
Flushing is pretty simple. Just drink a LOT of fluids. The more the better, so go ahead and chug. While the first instinct with a bladder infection is to make repeated trips to the bathroom, it actually helps to space them out a little. Drink a large glass of water or cranberry juice, then force yourself to wait 20 minutes to half an hour before using the bathroom.
It will be a lot less painful to pee if your body actually has something to get rid of. A full bladder signaling that its ready for a trip to the bathroom is actually less uncomfortable than the fake-out of an empty, irritated bladder. An empty bladder spasming up on itself is a feeling most of us wouldn't wish on a worst enemy.
Ibuprofin, the active ingredient in Advil and Motrin, can help. UTIs cause the muscles in the bladder to contract and spasm, causing pain and sometimes nausea. Because ibuprofin, unlike aspirin or Tylenol is a mild muscle relaxer, it will cause the bladder to relax as well. Even if you are feeling nauseous from a bladder infection, ibuprofin taken with a little bit of food will usually help. Generics are equally as effective as name brands.
What to Avoid
Part of the recovery process for a UTI means avoiding things that are going to aggravate the bladder and make the condition worse. Things to avoid:
- Sex - Sex is one of the main culprits for UTIs. Women should always make a habit of peeing after intercourse, even if it is only a few drops. Intercourse tends to push bacteria into the urethra, which causes infection. Having sex when you have a UTI can cause uncomfortable pressure on an already sensitive area, so its best to wait until you are feeling better.
- Sugar - Any sugar that is ingested, whether through eating or drinking, is present in the urine. Sugar is a breeding ground for bacteria, so it is extremely important to avoid any sugar when you have a UTI. Women who are prone to frequent UTIs may want to reduce the amount of sugar in their diets, and avoid beverages that are high in sugar.
- Caffeine and Alcohol - Both of these are dehydrating, which is one of the worst things for a UTI. Both caffeine and alcohol should be avoided until symptoms subside. If you can't bear the thought of giving up your morning coffee, at least go easy, maybe one cup instead of the usual two or three. Try to drink a full glass of water before drinking coffee to get a jump start on hydration, and skip the sugar.
- Heavy Lifting - Lifting something even as heavy as a basket of laundry can put stress and pressure on the bladder. Try to take it easy for a few days. Remember that your body is fighting off an infection and needs as much rest as possible. Avoid working out, housework, or any other strenuous activity.
The Importance of Proper Treatment
It is of the utmost importance to consult a doctor for a urinary tract infection. While a slight twinge or minor irritation might not warrant an office visit, frequent urges to use the bathroom, cramping, especially of the lower back, and inability to urinate can be symptoms of a serious infection. If untreated, kidney damage can occur. While home remedies can be helpful, they should never be used as a substitute for appropriate medical care.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Selvaraj Kannan on November 26, 2013:
Yes I accept cranberry one of the best, Further eat raw or boiled banana stem also good .
JD Sal on June 04, 2013:
the dr max powers supplement for the prostate helped me - no more waking up to pee
passionate77 on April 28, 2013:
oh yes its really very nasty issue that i can never forget how terribly i have been suffering from u.t.i and cran berry is really very effective regarding this health issue, i kept using it for months during my ailment, and still use when ever i suffer from this nasty health condition ( u.t.i ). nice and informative hub. great article, thanks for sharing Anayam!
AlanBR on March 17, 2013:
I'm 48 years old. Starting in April-May of 2012, I began to wake up frequently at night to use the bathroom. The number of times I woke up gradually increased to about two to five times a night.
I'm usually very skeptical of the claims of supplement makers. I take a multivitamin, cinnamon to reduce my blood sugar and niacin to reduce my triglycerides. (Both were recommended by my doctor). After doing much research online, I suspected that my problem was due to Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)--a common condition of men 50+ yrs old. During a doctor's office visit, I asked him about taking a supplement. He was positive about trying a supplement to relieve my waking up at night to go to the bathroom.
I researched several different brands and decided to try the Dr Max Powers Prostate Supplement. Within a week and a half of starting the supplements, I was only waking once or not at all at night. I've been taking the supplements for about 4 months now and recommend them.
Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on July 16, 2012:
I've had these annoying conditions off an on over the years, and cranberry juice is a remarkably effective treatment. Combine it with yogurt (at another time of the day--they don't make a great-tasting combination together!), and you almost don't need the expensive pills!
(I said "almost."...it's still best to consult the doctor!) But seriously, the cran/yogurt combo works much, much faster than the antibiotics. No waiting to feel better--usually by the end of the first day, relief will be noticed.
Good job on this hub--voted up and useful.
WindNdown on January 20, 2012:
Teachers12345 so true but I cant use cranberries due to the acid count in it, so blueberry was what my Dr said to use does the same thing with no acid.. sensitive bladders are heck to deal with, thank GOD I found out about drink and acid in foods to avoid any bladder pain!!
Dianna Mendez on January 20, 2012:
I have had UTI's and all of your suggestions are the procedures that help to restore health. I now drink cranberry juice often and take cranberry supplements to help keep UTI's from reocurring. A doctor said cranberries help to coat the urinary tract so that bacteria doesn't stick and passes on through.
BTO L on January 20, 2012:
No - Really - the Lady Soma Cranberry Concentrate Pills changed my life. I would get extremely painful UTIs at least once every couple of months. That meant doctor's visits and urine cultures, and antibiotics. Nobody wants to take that many antibiotics!!
I tried the Lady Soma brand Cranberry pills (since they are just made for women) rather than go on prophylaxis and they work! I don't know how, but they do. I take one in the morning and one in the afternoon and stay at hydrated as possible, and I have been UTI free! Definitely worth the money.
WindnDown on January 19, 2012:
By the way, sfshine, I use baking soda to cure my minor gout~~~ its works amazing..
Windndown on January 19, 2012:
My urologist gave me a script for micro bid and when I feel a UTI coming on I take them for a few days.. so much easier than going to the Dr every time.. He says I have a tilted bladder after my surgery so, I can get them often..
Anaya M. Baker (author) from North Carolina on January 19, 2012:
Windndown, Vernoica, sfshine, thanks for the info!
Windndown, I actually went through sensitive bladder at one point. Funny how the opposite of UTI remedies work for that one...I had gotten used to not "holding it" to prevent UTI, but my doctor said I actually had to try to for sensitive bladder. My bladder just didn't want any liquid in it, and I was running to the bathroom almost every half hour!
Veronica, the blueberry tip is great! I too wish we could skip the dr. visit, UTI is so common, its just a huge pain in the butt!
sfshine- Never heard of the baking soda, but what a great easy tip! Will be sure to try it next time my bladder revolts on me!
sfshine from Michigan on January 18, 2012:
Drinking a glass of water with half a teaspoonful of baking soda immediately relieves UTI symptoms. Great hub.
Veronica Roberts from Ohio, USA on November 19, 2011:
Great ideas, and very useful! Blueberries have the same effects as cranberries. My body actually rejects cranberry pills, for some reason. Thank you for sharing this. I wish there was an over-the-counter product to cure UTI's! lol =]
windndown from Kitty Ville on March 22, 2011:
The problem is, I was one of those Oh run to cranberry gals for years, but after my 40s my bladder became sensitive with Peri Menopause, and I needed to, (without knowing it then) stay way from all acids, and Cranberry juice has a lot of acid so I was getting a worse bladder feeling.. My dr told me blueberry was better does the same with a LOT less acid!!! SOME TIMES bladder issues are from a type of a sensitive bladder, so best to be checked out if you cant seem to get over a UTI.. could be something else!!!
Adam Sherman on November 07, 2010:
Voted UP! Thanks so much!
Anaya M. Baker (author) from North Carolina on October 25, 2010:
Cgarwriter, As long as its sugar free, cran grape is great! I usually do cran apple or cran peach when I can find it...
cgarwriter on October 25, 2010:
Extremely helpful as I am suffering from one right now. I'm off to the store for Cranberry Juice. I wonder if it is okay to drink the CranGrape as I'm not too fond of straight Cranberry Juice?
Kimberly Quevedo from New Jersey on October 24, 2010:
This is very helpful and informative. Thanks for the good information!