We certainly hope that your holidays and weekends aren’t spent with cramps or constant trips to the bathroom caused by a urinary tract infection (UTI). We want you to be able to spend maximum time relaxing with your loved ones. But, we also know that infections don’t operate on a holiday schedule. So what can you do when your urologist office is closed and you’re in pain?
We put together a guide below for treatments you can do at home to mitigate the pain you’re experiencing.
|Please Note: A UTI is an infection. It has the capability of spreading to the kidneys, so it is important to call us or visit an emergency room quickly if you‘re experiencing:
- Chills and a high fever (over 101°F)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fatigue and mental disorientation
What is a Urinary Tract Infection?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a genitourinary infection typically experienced in women. (In fact, women are actually 10 times more likely than men to get bladder infections!) This is most commonly due to their shorter urethra. Because women have a shorter urethra, bacteria can reach the bladder, multiply, and cause infection faster.
Another major reason for females to more commonly experience UTIs can be traced back to the proximity of the female urethra and rectum. This proximity can result in a bacteria exchange from the rectum to the urethra (which is why women are told often to wipe from front to back) instead of back to front after defecating.
Typically, women who have UTIs will:
- Visit the bathroom more than usual
- Have a burning sensation when urinating
- Have urine that is much darker, or appears to have blood in it
- Experience discomfort in her bladder
- Have kidney pain in her lower back or below the ribs
How To Mitigate Discomfort Of UTIs
1. Stay Hydrated
As with any sickness or infection, it’s important to drink as much water as possible to flush the illness or infection out of your body and stay hydrated. With UTIs, you will often experience pain in urination. However, water helps to dilute your urine, and can often reduce the burning. As frustrating as it is to have to run to the bathroom often, fluids will only help to get the infection out of your system sooner!
2. Taking Vitamin C:
Vitamin C is inherently acidic, so it can make your urine more acidic, decreasing the potential for bacteria growth in your urinary tract. As an added bonus, it will also work to keep your heart and immune system healthy–and fight off other infectious diseases. You can take a vitamin C supplement or eat foods high in vitamin C such as: broccoli, strawberries, kiwi, and pineapples!
3. Heating Pad
With UTIs, it’s common to experience a burning sensation and cramps in your lower abdomen. This is often the result of inflammation and irritation, which causes pressure and pain around your lower stomach and pubic area. To ease this discomfort and soothe the area, place a heating pad on your lower abdomen. Just be sure to keep the heat setting low; don’t apply it directly to the skin.
4. Eliminate Bladder Irritants
Your bladder is going through a hard battle when it’s under infection. So it’s important to cut out the foods and drinks that are known to irritate your bladder. Some examples of known universal irritants are: coffee, sodas, spicy foods, sugar and/or artificial sweeteners. If your body has known sensitivity to other foods, try to limit those as well! Instead, try to eat clean, whole foods that are good for your digestive health until your body is back to speed.
5. Go When You Have To Go
As frustrating as it is to have to get up multiple times within the hour to go to the bathroom, it’s important to not ‘hold it in’. Frequent urination helps eliminate the infection by moving bacteria out of the bladder. Conversely, holding it could allow enough time for the bacteria to continue multiplying in the bladder, making the situation worse.
6. Consider Cranberry Juice
Cranberry juice has been controversial in the UTI home remedy debate. For many years it has been believed to mitigate the bladder by preventing bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract. Others suggest that it doesn’t have enough of that particular chemical compounds needed to make a difference.
Because there are still many who swear by it’s home relief, we thought it was worth mentioning in this list. Until there is appropriate evidence, we can all agree that the juice won’t hurt the infection, it can only help. So it might be good to consider incorporating in your relief program for additional liquids!
Prevent future UTIs by:
Many of the remedies for relief can be continued for prevention plans. Here are the top tips for preventing a future UTI:
1. Stay hydrated.
Ideally, you should drink one ounce of water per pound of body weight, daily, to flush out any bacteria that enters your system. Note: don’t include coffee or juice in your water count. Even though there is water as an ingredient, coffee can actually dehydrate you.
2. Be cautious during (and after) sexual intercourse.
Urinating after sex is important in order to flush bacteria away from your bladder system. This prevents germs and bacteria from lingering and causing an infection. (Sexual activity can push bacteria deeper into the urethra in both men and women.)
And, if you use a diaphragm, be careful that it doesn’t push up against the urethra (making it harder to fully empty the bladder during urination).
3. Focus on hygiene.
Practicing good hygiene will help reduce any type of bacterial infection. Make sure you are showering once a day and after stressful or strenuous physical activity.
4. Avoid things that change your pH levels.
Your genitals especially are very sensitive to chemical imbalances. Try to avoid spermicides, vaginal douches, and perfumes that could alter the chemical makeup. This alteration can irritate your genitals, increasing the risk of developing a UTI.
Chronic Urinary Tract Infections can be very painful, but with a little bit of time, the proper diagnosis, and patience, they can be a thing of the past. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at one of our convenient Charlotte area locations.
And, if you would like to learn more about the nutrition you should incorporate into your diet for a healthy bladder, be sure to download your free copy of the Nutrition and Lifestyle Guide here.