When you have a urinary tract infection (UTI), finding relief from the pain and irritation you experience when urinating is often a top priority. Your doctor will likely clue you in on ways to prevent a UTI, but you should also ask about what you should avoid when you have a UTI.
If you have a UTI, you should avoid beverages like alcohol, soft drinks, citrus fruit juices and drinks containing caffeine.
What Is a UTI?
In simple terms, a urinary tract infection or UTI is a bacterial infection that affects your urinary system. This includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. UTIs are common in both men and women, with women experiencing more infections since their urethra is shorter than a man's, according to the Office on Women's Health.
You may also know a UTI as a bladder infection, since the two are often used interchangeably. Some of the more common symptoms to be aware of include:
- Pain or burning when urinating
- An urge to urinate often
- Pressure in your lower abdomen
- Urine that smells bad or looks cloudy
- Blood in the urine
When a UTI goes untreated, you may also develop a fever. Don't wait for these symptoms to go away on their own. If you're experiencing one or more of these, call your doctor. They will be able to tell you if you need to come in to get tested for a UTI.
Read more: Should You Avoid Certain Foods With a UTI?
Beverages to Avoid With UTI
When you see your doctor about a potential UTI, they will first test your urine for bacteria. If the lab results come back positive for a UTI, a round of antibiotics are often the first line of defense. Additionally, your doctor will likely recommend several lifestyle modifications that may help ease the symptoms while the antibiotics are doing their work.
According to the Mayo Clinic, avoiding drinks that can irritate your bladder may help ease the pain from a UTI. Some of the top culprits include alcohol, coffee, soft drinks and citrus juices like grapefruit and orange juice. The acid in citrus drinks tends to irritate the bladder. You should also avoid anything with caffeine.
In addition to irritating your bladder, drinks such as coffee and alcohol can actually stimulate your bladder, causing you to make urgent and more frequent trips to the bathroom to get rid of the fluids you're consuming.
Plus, beverages like alcohol can also increase your risk of dehydration, which complicates the symptoms of a UTI. Repeated bouts of dehydration may also trigger a UTI, according to the Mayo Clinic.
How to Avoid a UTI
Although a number of remedies exist to help you avoid a UTI, there is one that tops the list: Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Getting adequate amounts of water helps dilute your urine, which leads to urinating more frequently. When you're urinating throughout the day, you're able to flush bacteria from the urinary tract. This helps prevent infection.
Harvard Health Publishing says both blueberries and cranberries may help prevent UTIs. Consuming enough of these fruits raw or via unsweetened juice can keep bacteria from sticking to the lining of the urinary tract. They also recommend probiotics in the form of supplements or fermented foods since they contain colonies of good bacteria.
For women, simple hygiene practices like wiping from front to back after a bowel movement and changing tampons and feminine pads often can help reduce the risk of developing a UTI, says the Cleveland Clinic. Also, both men and women can reduce their risk by urinating before and after sex and urinating frequently throughout the day.