Urinary tract infections are the cause of millions of visits to the doctor every year. It can affect the kidneys, ureters, urethra or bladder, but usually only the lower urinary tract. It is also especially common in women because their urethra is shorter and therefore more vulnerable to bacterial penetration. To treat these infections, many people use antibiotics-free treatments, these being proven to be effective.
Urinary tract infections: treatment of cystitis
Cystitis is a very common urinary tract infection of the bladder. It can clear up on its own in less than a week, but if symptoms persist, you should see a doctor who will prescribe the right medicine for this type of disease. You can also go for an over-the-counter UTI treatment, especially for pain relief. This includes products based on sodium or potassium citrate. All you need to do is dissolve the powdered solution in a drink and then drink the medicine. This also helps to hydrate your body so that you can overcome the infection more quickly.
In contrast, hospital-acquired bladder infections can be a challenge to treat, as the bacteria found in hospitals are often resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat cystitis. Different approaches may thus be needed.
Note that during cystitis treatment, it is strongly recommended that you pay attention to your diet. For example, you should avoid the consumption of stimulants such as coffee or alcohol, as well as drinks that can irritate your bladder (such as citrus juices). You should also avoid sugary drinks, which can contribute to the proliferation of the bacteria that cause the infection.
Cranberry is effective against urinary tract infection
With the risk of increased antibiotic resistance, an alternative treatment for these daily infections would be welcome. This is why more and more women with frequent cystitis are choosing cranberry, a UTI treatment that has been used for centuries. Cranberries are made up of water (88%), organic acids, fructose, high levels of vitamin C, flavonoids, catechins, triterpinoids, and anthocyanidins. These prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract. These are tannins (stable polyphenols) found only in vaccinium berries, functioning as a natural defence system. Cranberry juice seems to be more effective than its tablet counterparts, perhaps because the active substances are more easily absorbed. However, avoid drinking cranberry juice if you are taking blood thinners.
Treating urinary tract infection with probiotics
Urinary tract infections such as cystitis are caused by pathogenic bacteria such as E.coli. About 20-30% of women will suffer from recurrent UTIs throughout their lives. Medications for UTIs are limited and many women who suffer from this urinary tract problem seek alternative methods of treatment such as over-the-counter UTI probiotics. These are live bacteria found in certain foods and supplements that are important for maintaining the natural balance of the vagina, urethra and bladder. Having a good level of probiotics in the gut can reduce the ability of pathogens to bind, multiply and colonise, thereby reducing the risk of developing cystitis. Supplements can not only help with treatment, but also work as a preventative measure. These can be found in foods such as yoghurt. Special over-the-counter pills can also be taken orally or inserted into the vagina. You can also use prebiotic drinks that can be added to water or juice to create a favourable environment for your natural defences.
Consider using herbal remedies
You may find some relief by chewing bearberry leaf, which is sometimes used as a treatment for urinary tract infections. But this herb should only be taken for short periods, i.e. five days or less, as increased consumption could damage your liver.
Some preliminary research also suggests that D-mannose supplements may help prevent and treat UTIs. Researchers believe that it may stop bacteria from attaching to the walls of the urinary tract. D-mannose is a simple sugar found naturally in fruits, including oranges, apples and cranberries.
Lastly, don’t forget to always check with your doctor before taking any herbal supplements, as they may cause side effects.