Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are quite common, especially in women, but what home remedies for urinary tract infections actually work?
If you face the discomfort and pain of a urinary tract infection, you are probably looking for a quick fix. This article looks at some of the most commonly prescribed home remedies for urinary tract infections, their effectiveness and provides recommendations for improving your urinary health.
What’s a UTI?
A urinary tract infection is a proliferation of microorganisms or bacteria in any part of the urinary system, including the kidneys, ureter, bladder or urethra. Infections most often occur in the bladder or urethra.
Half of all women in the world will have a UTI at some point in their lives. While men may also have urinary tract infections, women are at greater risk because of their anatomy.
Some will suffer from recurrent urinary tract infections. This involves two or more infections over a six-month period, or three infections over a 12-month period.
Most researchers believe that vaginal or intestinal sources of bacteria cause urinary tract infections. Other causes include overuse of antibiotics, intercourse, menopause, certain types of birth control, kidney stones, the use of catheters and poor immunity. A study has shown that bacteria can actually live in reservoirs inside the bladder wall and cause recurrent infections.
Abstract: A urinary tract infection is a proliferation of bacteria in the urinary system. They are quite common, especially in women.
Not everyone experiences UTI symptoms, but the most common ones include:
- urge to urinate
- frequently passing small amounts of urine
- burning sensation while urinating
- cloudy urine
- urine that appears red or pink because of blood in the urine
- urine with strong odor
- pelvic pain (women)
- lower back pain
If you think you have a urinary tract infection, contact your doctor. You might need an antibiotic treatment.
Common Home Remedies for Urinary Tract Infections
Against popular belief, there is no proven home remedy for treating a UTI. However, health professionals recommend some commonly used methods, even if they do not have adequate research based on evidence.
People have been recommending cranberry juice and cranberry tablets for decades. The theory is that cranberries contain a potent polyphenol that interferes with the bacteria that often causes urinary tract infections.
Unfortunately, research data is inconsistent and limited, which means that cranberries should not be recommended as the only form of prevention or treatment.
A growing number of people are turning to D-mannose, a natural sugar, for the treatment of urinary tract infections. Although there is promising research showing its effectiveness, the studies are too small to be considered reliable at this time.
Some researchers believe that vitamin C can acidify the urine, thus reducing the risk of urinary tract infections. As an antioxidant, it can also stimulate the immune system. However, only limited and outdated research is available to support this claim.
Abstract: Cranberry, D-mannose, and vitamin C may help prevent and / or treat urinary tract infections in some people, but further research is needed to prove their effectiveness.
Recommendations for preventing urinary tract infections
The following UTI home remedies recommendations also lack satisfactory research, but they can benefit your urinary system and overall health.
One of the most common recommendations for the prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections is to increase your fluid and water intake. Even so, there is not enough valid research to prove this as an effective form of prevention or treatment for urinary tract infections.
That said, hydration is essential for optimal overall health. Drinking adequate fluids can protect you from a wide range of other health problems such as kidney stones, dehydration and diabetes.
The Institute of Medicine recommends a total fluid intake of 11+ cups for women and 15 cups + for men, including water and fluids derived from food and beverages.
Practice good sexual hygiene
Many health professionals recommend urinating after intercourse to prevent urinary tract infections. A large study has shown that good sexual hygiene, including the urge to urinate after intercourse, results in a decreased risk of urinary tract infection in women ages 18 to 30 years old.
Since there is no negative risk associated with the practice of good sexual hygiene, this recommendation continues to be popular and supported.
Maintaining a healthy weight
In a large study of more than 95,000 people over a five-year period, a high body mass index (BMI) was associated with an increased risk of developing urinary tract infection. Specifically, women with a high BMI of 30 to 34.9 were significantly more likely to suffer from urinary tract infection.
Of course, maintaining a healthy weight is not only beneficial for the urinary tract, but also for general health.
Probiotics are living microorganisms beneficial to health. These are the good bacteria that live in your gut. You can find probiotics in foods, dietary supplements and various body products.
Researchers believe that the use of probiotics can reduce your risk of urinary tract infection by preventing the bad bacteria from attaching to the urinary tract cell walls. One study showed a 73% reduction in episodes of recurrent urinary tract infections compared to those who did not use Lactobacillus probiotics.
Unfortunately, many other studies show no therapeutic effect, and most lack a consistent probiotic strain and dosing recommendations, as well as reproducible results.
Still, the known benefits of using probiotics, including better digestion, increased immunity and better mood, are sufficient to keep probiotics on the list of recommendations, especially given their side effects minimal.
Abstract: Adequate fluid intake, good sexual health, maintaining a healthy weight and taking probiotics can help prevent or treat urinary tract infections.
What home remedies for urinary tract infections actually work?
There are no proven home remedies for preventing or treating urinary tract infections. However, there is promising research on the use of cranberries, D-mannose and vitamin C.
Just note that there are several other simple ways to support your urinary system, which can help you avoid having a urinary tract infection in the first place. Staying hydrated, maintaining good sexual health, and maintaining a healthy weight can help you avoid UTIs and improve your overall health.
And of course, there are prescription medications for urinary tract infections that are safe and effective too.