Left untreated, a urinary tract infection, or UTI, can lead to kidney damage, low infant birth weights, and a hefty bill at the pharmacy counter. According to 2010 information from the National Kidney Foundation, UTIs are responsible for 10 million doctor's visits annually. Over-the-counter solutions can effectively treat most UTIs without the use of prescription antibiotics.
Urinary tract infections are usually the culprit of a bacterium called Escherichia coli, or E. coli for short. Probiotics are used to fight this harmful bacteria with naturally occurring good bacteria. Available in pills, powders or solutions, probiotics are available at retail health stores.
Many herbs are available over-the-counter for treatment of a UTI. Goldenseal root comes in pills, powders and teas and contains an antimicrobial, or bacteria-fighting, property. A preparation of goldenseal root tea can be taken safely three to four times daily. Other options include herbs such as cleavers or marshmallow root and are available in tablets or powders. How you choose to take your herbs, whether in teas or pills, will not change the overall efficacy and is a personal decision. Always discuss herbs or herbal supplements with a medical professional before attempting to use them to treat a UTI.
A common sign of a UTI is the burning, frequency and urgency when you urinate. Phenazopyridine, available commercially as AZO Standard, is an over-the-counter medication indicated for UTIs, and can be purchased at a retail pharmacy. The exact method of action is unknown, but phenazopyridine numbs the urinary tract stopping the frequent, painful trips to the restroom.
Cranberries and Vitamin C
The immune boosting properties of cranberries and vitamin C make them effective over-the-counter solutions for urinary tract infections. Drinking cranberry juice will acidify the urine and decrease the adhesion of bad bacteria within the urinary tract. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, will increase the acidity of the urine and boost the immune system when taken in doses of four or more grams daily. Remember to take a zinc supplement along with the vitamin C as zinc facilitates the absorption of this vitamin.
- Mayoclinic.com: Urinary Tract Infections
- National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse: What I Need to Know About Urinary Tract Infections
- National Kidney Foundation: Urinary Tract Infections
- “Nursing 2007 Drug Handbook”; Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2007
- National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine: An Introduction to Probiotics