A UTI is an infection in your urinary system. Though it is usually treated with antibiotics, there are a considerable amount of home remedies for UTI that you can try.
UTI is generally more common in women than men. As per statistics, the risk of UTI in women in their lifetime is as high as 1 in 2 of them. In contrast to that, only 1 in 10 men is likely to get a UTI in their lifetime.
What is UTI?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a very common type of infection in your urinary system. It can involve any part of your urinary system, including kidneys, bladder, ureters, and the urethra. While infection in your bladder can be quite frustrating and painful, there are some serious consequences if UTI spreads to your kidney.
Originally, your urine does not contain bacteria or any germs. Urine is the byproduct of the kidneys and it normally moves through your urinary system without any contamination. However, when bacteria from outside the body gets into the urinary system, it can cause infection and that is what is urinary tract infection (UTI).
Symptoms of UTI:
It does not show symptoms 100% of the time. UTI symptoms can be detected only after a test, but when they do it may include these symptoms:
- A strong and constant urge to urinate
- A burning sensation when urinating
- Passing frequent yet small amounts of urine
- Urine that appears cloudy, red, bright pink, or dark-colored – a sign of blood in the urine
- Urine that has a strong or strange odor
- Pressure/pain in your back or in the pelvic area (mainly for women)
What causes UTI? – Common causes of the infection
Urinary tract infections are mostly caused by microorganisms (usually bacteria) that enter the urethra and the bladder. Even though the urinary system is designed in such a way that it can fight off infections, sometimes, they fail to do so.
Since UTIs can occur in different parts, they are given different names based on where they occur.
Bladder infection- Cystitis
Urethra infection- Urethritis
Kidney infection- Pyelonephritis
The uterus is rarely affected in UTIs.
Cystitis (concerning the bladder): This type of infection is caused by the bacterium called Escherichia coli (E. coli), a type of bacteria that is usually present in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Sexual intercourse can also cause cystitis though you don’t necessarily have to be sexually active to develop it. One more reason that makes women more vulnerable to UTI is solely because of their anatomy – the short distance from the urethra to the anus makes it easier for the infection to travel.
Urethritis (concerning the urethra): This occurs when the bacteria move from the anus to the urethra. As the female urethra is considerably pretty close to the vagina, STIs such as herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and mycoplasma, can also cause urethritis.
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Apart from these main causes, women with diabetes are also at higher risk for UTI as they might have a weak immune system that will find it hard to fight the infection. Other risk factors may include hormone changes, multiple sclerosis, and anything that affects urine flow, such as kidney stones, a stroke, and a spinal cord injury.
What can UTI do if not treated on time?
Many urinary tract infections are simple and easy to cure when they are treated right away. Most of the time, antibiotics are prescribed for 2-3 days and the infection is cured. However, UTI can have serious consequences if left untreated.
Here are some of the complications that occur when UTI is not treated properly or on time:
- Recurrent infections: Mostly common among women who experience two or more UTIs in a six-month period or longer. Your doctor might suggest a more comprehensive antibiotics plan to follow.
- Permanent kidney damage: Untreated UTI can cause acute or chronic kidney infection leading to long-lasting kidney damage. Your kidneys will be affected, causing problems like high blood pressure and other issues.
- Pregnancy risks: UTIs in women are pretty common during pregnancy. If not treated on time, it can cause serious complications for both the mother and the baby. Risks include delivering a low-weight or premature baby along with the risks of high BP and anemia for the mother.
- Structural issues: Recurrent urethritis in men can lead to urethral narrowing (stricture).
- Sepsis: Untreated UTI can trigger sepsis, a life-threatening complication of the infection if it reaches the kidneys from the urinary tract
UTI Treatment- Home Remedies for UTI
Wondering how to get rid of UTI fast? As mentioned earlier, antibiotics are the most common way to treat urinary tract infections. But if you wish to try at-home or natural methods to cure UTI, you might want to try the following suggestions.
1. Stay hydrated
Drinking lots of water in a day is one of the easiest and effective ways to treat UTI. Water removes waste from the urinary tract while being able to retain nutrients and electrolytes. Drinking lots of water also helps in the quick journey of urine passing through the system, making it hard for the bacteria to reach the cells.
2. Cranberry Juice
This is probably the most common and suggested method to cure a UTI. According to various studies, the red berry prevents the E. coli bacteria from attaching to the walls of your bladder. Cranberry juice is also said to contain antioxidants that have antibacterial anti-inflammatory properties.
3. Tender coconut water/Barley water
Since coconut water and barley water are natural diuretics, they help the body flush out bacteria by urinating more often. Coconut water is generally rich in nutrients and vitamins and helps keep the immune system strong. Barley water is also said to be a good remedy for kidney stones and cysts.
4. Vitamin C rich foods
Vitamin C reacts with nitrates in the urine to form nitrogen oxides that in turn kill bacteria. It lowers the pH of urine, making it hard for the bacteria to survive. Oranges, lemons, strawberries, and green leafy vegetables are filled with Vitamin C and help improve the immune system.
Apart from these common home-remedies, people who have experienced UTI offer a few suggestions of their own:
- Drinking a glass of water with baking soda mixed in it
- Mixing 5 spoons of cold milk with 1 glass of water – drinking till urination is normal
- Juice of one onion with a pinch of turmeric
- Applying lukewarm Dhanwantaram Thailam soaked in cotton on the lower abdomen for 1015 mins, 3 times a day
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Adding ENO to milk
- Lemon juice, green tea
- Pumpkin seeds
- Boiling dhaniya seeds in water and drinking the mixture once every hour for two days
Over-the-counter drugs for UTI
As mentioned earlier, antibiotics are the most common treatment for UTIs. Apart from following certain home remedies for UTI, taking prescribed antibiotics will help.
An uncomplicated UTI is one that occurs in a healthy person. In such a case, the infection can be cured with 2-3 days of treatment.
However, a complicated UTI occurs when a person is already weakened by other health conditions. When that happens, the course of antibiotics may run between 7 to 14 days on average.
Though it is usually advised to consult a doctor before taking any antibiotics for UTI treatment, here are some over-the-counter options that you might want to know:
1. Paracetamol- for relief from pain
2. Ibuprofen- for its anti-inflammatory properties
3. Cystex- for pain relief again
4. Phenazopyridine- numbs the lining of the urinary tract, pain relief
Just like for home-remedies, people who have undergone UTI treatments have a few other OTC medicine suggestions to help cure the infection*:
- SBL Homeopathy drops No.3 as per instructions
- AZO pills for UTI
- Urispas tablet
- Patanjali’s Giloy Vati and Chandraprabha Vati tablets
- Citralka Syrup
- Neeri Syrup
*Disclaimer: consult a doctor before using it
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) can occur to anybody. Though it is highly likely for women to experience a UTI, men are prone to it too. Being aware of it and consciously taking steps to prevent the infection from happening is what you can do. Follow simple prevention steps like maintaining sexual hygiene, being hydrated, taking foods that are rich in Vitamin C, etc.
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If you spot even simple symptoms of a UTI, it is advised that you immediately consult a doctor and get it diagnosed. As discussed above, it is up to you to whether follow home remedies for UTI or take antibiotics.