Every year, 7 million people visit their doctors for diagnosis and treatment of urinary tract infections, or UTIs. These infections can be painful if not treated right away. Antibiotics can often take care of these infections, but can also cause side effects, such as gastrointestinal upsets. People who are experiencing the symptoms of a UTI can sometimes benefit from choosing a natural approach to treatment. However, although natural remedies can help in the treatment of UTIs, it is important to seek medical attention if improvement isn’t noticed quickly.
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The symptoms of a UTI include bloody or cloudy urine, lower abdominal discomfort, frequent and painful urination, and low-grade fever. Bacteria, viruses or fungi can cause these types of infections, but the most common type is caused by bacteria. If left untreated, a UTI can affect the kidneys and escalate into a more serious problem. Women are about 50 percent more likely to contract this uncomfortable condition than men, according to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, which also states that a woman's blood type may play a role in her risk of recurrent UTIs.
Many doctors recommend 5,000 mg or more of vitamin C per day for an acute UTI because this vitamin creates an unfriendly environment for bacteria. According to experts at Harvard Medical School, the properties of cranberries prevent E-coli, the type of bacteria responsible for most urinary tract infections, from attaching to the walls of the bladder. Blueberries contain similar properties as cranberries. Other natural sources include the following vegetables and herbs that are approved in Germany as part of the therapy for people with UTIs: asparagus, birch, goldenrod, horsetail, Java tea, marshmallow root and nettle.
Drinking plenty of clear water helps promote urination and expels toxins. Coffee, acidic foods and alcohol irritate the bladder and compromise its ability to fight off an infection. A common solution for people suffering from a painful UTI is consuming 1 teaspoon of baking soda added to drinking water. The soda neutralizes the acidity in the urine, possibly speeding recovery.
Urinary tract infections can be avoided by using good toilet habits and wiping from front to back. Keep the genital area clean by washing with plain water once a day. Bubble baths and other personal hygiene products such as sprays and powders may be irritating. Don't put off trips to the bathroom when you feel the urge to go. Wear 100 percent cotton panties, because this fabric lets moisture escape, while other moisture-trapping fabrics can favor growth of bacteria.