You wake up in the morning and head to the bathroom as usual. All of a sudden, you feel a burning sensation. You’re finished, but still feel like you have to go again. As you get up and start to move around, the pain kicks in. What do you have? You guessed it…a bladder infection.
The medical term for a bladder infection is urinary tract infection or UTI because the infection can involve the entire tract. A UTI is an infection of the bladder (cystitis), urethra (tube which the urine travels through on the way out from the bladder), ureter (tube connecting the kidneys to the bladder), or the kidneys themselves.
Urinary tract infections are the most common of all infections. UTI’s are painful and annoying. They usually only last a couple of days if treated properly. However, if they persist and left untreated, UTI’s can cause kidney damage.
Causes of UTI’s
What causes UTI’s? UTIs are generally a bacterial infection and tend to occur when bacteria around the anus come in contact with the genitals and then can travel up into the bladder, for example during wiping after going to the toilet.
Some people are more prone to getting UTI’s than others based upon their anatomy and immune system. Most UTI’s come from hygiene issues where bacteria are allowed to enter the urinary tract from outside the body. In the female anatomy, the urethra ends in the genital area that is particularly prone to collection of bacteria. Frequent sex can also trigger a UTI.
The good news about UTI’s is that they pose little long term risk if treated promptly. UTI’s are usually treated with antibiotics and go away in 3 – 7 days.
Because of the frequent urge to urinate and pain during urination, it may be tempting to drink less fluids. However, drinking more water helps clear the infection. The body’s natural method for removing toxins and bacteria is to flush them out through the kidneys and urinary system. The more water we consume, the more our bodies can flush out the bacteria. Quite simply, the more we urinate, the more bacteria we flush out.
Seek Medical Attention If…
If your UTI persists, please see a doctor. Antibiotics may be required. Also, please consult with your physician before beginning any self-treatment program.
Antibiotics Used to Treat an Uncomplicated UTI
Because a UTI is a bacterial infection, antibiotics are effective in treating UTI’s. The following oral antibiotics are commonly used to treat most UTI infections (acute cystitis):
- Sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim (Bactrim DS, Septra DS, others)
- Nitrofurantoin (Macrobid, Macrodantin)
- Fosfomycin (Monurol)
- Amoxicillin/clavulanate (Augmentin)
- Certain cephalosporins like cefpodoxime, cefdinir, or cefaclor
The frequent use of antibiotics has caused more and more strains of bacteria to become antibiotic-resistant. This has lead many people to consider natural alternatives to treat UTI’s.
Reducing the Symptoms of UTI’s
Here are 10 recommendations to relieve the symptoms of a UTI:
1. Drink More Water
An average healthy person should consume half of their body weight (lbs) in ounces of water on a daily basis. Most of us don’t come even close to that amount. For example, if you weigh 160 lbs, you should drink 80 ounces of water. That is equivalent to 10 glasses (8 ounce) of water.
2. Urinate Frequently
The more you urinate, the more you flush out bacteria.
3. Avoid Irritating Foods and Beverages
Do not consume foods and beverages that irritate the bladder. Here are a few: caffeine, alcohol, spicy food, nicotine, carbonated drinks, and artificial sweeteners.
4. Vitamin C
Take extra Vitamin C because it is one of the most important building blocks in for a strong, healthy immune system.
5. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is also important for building a strong, healthy immune system. While your body is fighting an infection, extra Vitamin C and D will help fuel your immune system.
Use a heating pad or heat packs to ease the pain.
7. Take a Walk
Although you may not feel like walking, walking has two positive effects. First, moving your body helps blood and other fluids through your body. Movement will help your body flush more toxins and bacteria out of your system. Secondly, mild exercise like walking can also help relieve pain.
8. Light Stretching or Yoga
This has the same effect as walking. If the weather or your schedule do not permit walking, then do some light stretching several times a day. The other benefit is that you can stay closer to the bathroom. Combine this with deep breathing for maximum effect.
9. Deep Breathing
Breathing is one of the most underrated and forgotten remedies. Learn to take deep breaths with your diaphragm pushing your belly out as you inhale, and then pulling your belly in as you exhale. This pulls the air into the lower lobes of your lungs where more oxygen can be absorbed. Deep breathing calms our mind and body, as well as increases blood flow. This helps reduce pain and allow our body to fight the infection.
10. Meditation (or silent prayer)
Similar to deep breathing, meditation relaxes both the mind and body. The body is having an inflammatory response to the infection. Relaxing the mind and body will reduce the inflammatory response but not reduce your body’s immune system. In fact, it increases your immune system’s ability to fight infection. The worst thing you can do is worry and get stressed about your UTI. This only makes things worse.
Bladder infections also known as urinary tract infections are the most common form of infection. They are bacterial infections caused by bacteria being exposed to the urinary tract opening in the genitalia. UTI’s are more common in women.
UTI’s are frequently treated with antibiotics. There are several natural ways to reduce the symptoms and duration of a UTI. If a UTI persists or if you symptoms become worse, seek medical attention.