Urinary tract infections or UITs are not comfortable and will affect 1 in 2 people in their lifetime. No one wants to have to be constantly running to the bathroom.
By the age of 24, one out of every three women will experience a urinary tract infection that brings them to their doctor. Learning how to prevent you from becoming a part of the 1 in 3 is great for your overall health. If you do get a UTI, do not worry. We are going to discuss today all the ways you can treat your UTI naturally with the help of your Naturopath.
What Are UTIs?
- A urinary tract infection is a bacterial infection of the urinary tract system. The urinary tract includes your urethra, ureters, bladder and kidneys. It is most common in the lower urinary tract involving your urethra. Urinary tract infections in women are more common as they have shorter urethras than men.
It can have serious consequences if it spreads to your kidneys (kidney infections!) which is why it’s important to treat your UTI when you have one. Treatment also helps prevent bladder infections as UTIs are a risk factor for this.
How Long Does a UTI last?
- UTIs should resolve within two weeks. With treatment, however, a urinary tract infection should resolve within 7 days. These are considered uncomplicated UTIs. If your UTI recurs twice within 6 months or three times within 12 months, it is considered a UTI recurrence. Untreated UTIs can cause severe infections, like bladder and kidney infections.
What Type of UTIs Are There?
- UTIs are caused by micro-organisms – most commonly a bacterial growth in the urinary tract resulting in bacterial infections. The type of bacteria; which is believed to come from either vaginal or bowel sources, can usually be determined through a urine sample ordered by your doctor. This is not usually helpful however in determining if the infection is new or a recurrence.
- Researchers have long known there’s a link between your gut health and your urinary health. Constipation or lack of a regular bowel movement (less than once per day) is one of the main ways that bacteria can travel between the rectum and the urethra.
What Are The Symptoms Of UTI?
Symptoms don’t always appear, but when they do, here is what you need to look out for:
- A strong, consistent urge to urinate
- A burning sensation when you do urinate
- Pain with urination
- Only being able to pass small amounts of urine at a time
- Urine that appears cloudy, red (a sign of blood in the urine) or with a strong smell
- Pelvic pain or pressure
UTIs can be mistaken for other conditions; such as bladder infections and kidney infections – this is why a simple urinary analysis can be performed to test and make sure you are treating the right thing.
What Causes A UTI?
It is most commonly caused by the Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria getting into the urinary tract. The escherichia coli strains of bacteria account for 80% of infections. It can also be caused by different bacteria such as Klebsiella spp., Enterococcus spp., Staphylococcus saprophyticus and Proteus spp. Staphylococcus aureus is not a common cause of urinary tract infections.
The E. coli bacterium is a common bacterium found in the digestive tract. It makes its way from the colon to the urethra to cause a urinary tract infection. This can happen in a few ways and it is more common in women due to the proximity of their anatomical structures.
This migration can occur from sexual activity, improper hygiene practices (wiping back to front), persistent constipation, irritating menstrual products, non-breathable synthetic lingerie, and inadequate fluid intake.
Bladder Infection vs UTI
The main difference between a bladder infection and a UTI is where the infection is located. The infections are caused by a micro-organism, most commonly bacteria. The bladder is a specific part of the urinary tract and is where your urine is stored. When speaking about a urinary tract infection, most people are speaking about their urethra, where the urine travels through after leaving the bladder on its way to being urinated.
When a UTI is not treated for some time, the bacteria can migrate up the urethra into the bladder. If a bladder infection is left untreated for some time, the bacteria can travel up the ureters into the kidney causing a much more serious infection.
7 Natural Remedies For UTIs
Urinary tract infections should be treated each time you have one to avoid a recurrent urinary tract infection as well as the spread to your kidneys resulting in severe infection.
They can be treated naturally and with an antibiotic prescription to kill the bacteria however there are steps you can take to reduce the frequency and severity of these infections altogether.
When a UTI has been treated with antibiotics the chance of recurrence increases in the future. This is because antibiotics are not specific and kill off most bacteria (the good and the bad) making the urinary tract less able to protect itself from new bad bacteria that are introduced. With repeated treatment with antibiotics, the bad bacteria that do survive can become resistant to those antibiotics making each subsequent infection harder to treat.
Vitamin C Intake
Vitamin C is important for immune function. Vitamin C is high in anti-oxidants and will help your body fight off an infection when it does appear. Large amounts of Vitamin C also help to acidify the urine which limits the growth of some bacteria. As Vitamin C is water soluble, higher amounts of Vitamin C can be taken with the extra being flushed in your urine. This helps the Vitamin C get to where it’s supposed to be and why it works to acidify the urine.
Cranberry juice and cranberry extract have been widely used in UTI prevention. Cranberry juice is good at being able to relieve UTI pain.
D-mannose, the simple sugar constituent in cranberry juice, is used to prevent recurrent urinary tract infections as well as treat current ones.
Research has shown that it stops E. coli from latching onto the bladder wall. Preventing this adherence does not allow E. coli to proliferate and can prevent infections from taking place.
For recurrent UTIs, the consistent use of D-Mannose has shown a decrease in infections to 1.1 infections per year when taken consistently.
Oral probiotics have been used to treat several health concerns related to the digestive tract (GI) but they also play an important role in the treatment and prevention of urinary tract infections.
Oral probiotics work to restore and rebalance the normal flora in the GI tract. As we learned earlier, most of the bacteria causing UTIs make their way from the colon into your urethra.
Probiotics, specifically with Lactobacillus strains, the main good bacterium found in the vaginal tract, increase this population of friendly bacteria in the vaginal tract. Lactobacillus is important to the vaginal tract as it produces lactic acid which helps modulate the vaginal pH to fight off infections.
When taking probiotics containing Lactobacillus, studies in women have shown these beneficial bacteria to help maintain a normal vaginal flora, increase the number of good lactobacilli, reduce or relieve symptoms of a UTI and overall improve vaginal health.
When UTIs become persistent and resistant, garlic can come to the rescue. Garlic has been medically reviewed in the research and it has shown that it is effective in relieving symptoms and treating UTIs.
Garlic’s active component, Allicin, is a highly potent natural substance with antimicrobial properties. It works well to kill off bacterial infection and also has the added benefits of supporting the good flora to keep balance in the urinary tract.
Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) has been traditionally used in botanical medicine for urinary tract infections.
It is used for symptom relief, reducing the burning sensation when urinating as well as reducing the frequency of urination.
It contains the component hydro quinine attached to a sugar molecule. When the E.coli bacteria feed on the sugar, it activates the hydro quinine molecule creating a free radical and harming the E. coli.
It is only recommended to treat active infections and not used for preventative measures.
Parsley has been traditionally used as a diuretic, increasing urine output. Due to this, it has been used to treat most ailments involving the urinary tract, not just urinary tract infections.
The active constituent in parsley is apigenin which possesses diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties. This helps to flush the urinary tract of harmful bacteria.
The anti-inflammatory properties of parsley work as an analgesic to soothe the urinary tract of the burning sensation.
Juniper has been traditionally used as an antiseptic for treating infections by inhibiting the growth of bacteria.
It works by disrupting the bacteria’s cell membrane, the biofilm, and making it more vulnerable to treatment.
Juniper has an affinity for the urinary tract making it ideal to treat urinary tract infections.
As it is an antimicrobial, it is only recommended for the treatment of an active infection and should not be used for preventative measures.
Home Remedies For UTIs
Wear Loose Clothing
Loose clothing in terms of pants, dresses and skirts helps with airflow and air exchange to the area. Tight clothing can block this creating a sweaty environment for bacteria to thrive. It is best to not wear underwear overnight to sleep to allow for air exchange.
Improve Overall Hygiene
Prevent urinary tract infections from even being allowed to happen by improving your hygiene. This means always wiping from front to back after using the washroom, wearing cotton underwear to sleep, or better yet no underwear at all, always showering after getting sweaty, washing your hands before intercourse (and asking your partner to wash theirs) and always pee after sex.
Frequent Urination And Not Holding It
Proper urination habits are very important in preventing UTIs. The urinary system was designed to hold a large amount of fluid and then through the release of that fluid wash out the urinary tract. Withholding your urine for a large length of time can allow for the bacteria in the urinary tract to get into the urinary cell walls. Too frequent urination, can not allow for enough pressure build-up and “washing” of the urinary tract while using the toilet.
Different Birth Control Medication
Birth control methods that interfere with the vaginal flora, like spermicides, can alter the natural defences of the vaginal tract and make it easier for bacteria to grow.
Birth control methods such as a diaphragm that may put pressure on the urethra internally and slow the flow of urination may allow for bacteria to get into the urinary tract walls by preventing the full voiding of the bladder.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Does A UTI Feel Like?
UTI symptoms can feel like stinging or burning and can be accompanied by urinary urgency. UTI pain can also be felt in your pelvis and cause pressure, making you feel uncomfortable for long periods. UTIs can make it hard to start or stop urinating, some people experience relief in urgency once they do urinate however this may also increase the burning or stinging sensation.
How To Get Rid Of A UTI?
It is always best to treat a UTI. This can be done with antibiotic treatment or by using one or a combination of the natural treatment for UTIs listed above. If symptoms of your UTI last longer than two weeks, it is always advised to seek medical attention to rule out any more serious causes for concern
How To Prevent UTIs?
To prevent urinary tract infections, it is always best to practice good hygiene. This includes wiping from front to back after using the toilet, cleaning only with mild soap and water, wearing breathable cotton underwear and practicing smart sexual practices like washing your hands before engaging with a partner and urinating after sexual intercourse. UTI prevention is the best way to stop recurring UTIs.
How To Treat A UTI At Home?
To treat a UTI at home, use one (or a combination!) of natural treatments and home remedies. This includes drinking unsweetened cranberry juice to flush bacteria and prevent the bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract walls, using herbal remedies like parsley and juniper that have antibacterial and antifungal properties, taking probiotics to ensure a good amount of healthy bacteria and supporting your immune system with vitamin c intake to fight off infection.
How To Treat A UTI Naturally
The natural treatment for UTIs includes home remedies that have been medically reviewed and many have been shown to work. Drink cranberry juice as this protects the urinary tract cells and alleviates UTI symptoms, use natural supplements that are good at preventing UTIs like parsley and limit your risk factors such as practicing good sexual hygiene.