With the exception of respiratory infections, urinary tract infections – also called UTIs – develop more frequently than any other type of infection, especially in women. Many people try to treat this common condition with home remedies, such as apple cider vinegar. Although this might help keep you from developing a UTI, using this kitchen staple while you have an ongoing infection could cause your symptoms to worsen and you should avoid it.
Most UTIs typically come about when E. coli bacteria from the colon area invade part of your urinary tract, such as your urethra or bladder. Symptoms of such an infection may include discolored or odorous urine, a burning or tingling sensation during urination, a frequent urge to void and abdominal pain or rectal pressure. Urinary tract infections affect sexually active women regularly and are more likely to occur if you need to use catheters or have an irregularly structured urinary tract.
Drinking apple cider vinegar daily could aid your urinary tract in preserving a slightly acidic environment. This discourages the growth of UTI-causing bacteria, says Dr. Earl Mindell, a registered pharmacist and author of "Dr. Earl Mindell's Amazing Apple Cider Vinegar." However, once your body succumbs to an infection, you should probably not attempt to use apple cider vinegar. Once in your urinary tract, the bacteria attach to the tissue lining your bladder and urethra, which leaves the tissue inflamed and raw. As an acidic liquid, vinegar could increase the acidity of your urine. Passing more acidic urine may exacerbate the inflamed tissue, which could result in a more severe burning sensation during voiding, says Dr. Marianne Legato, professor at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons and co-author of "What Women Need to Know."
Although you should avoid consuming apple cider vinegar while suffering from a urinary tract infection, it may be an option for preventing another UTI down the road. Talk to your primary care physician if you wish to use home remedies, such as apple cider vinegar and cranberry juice, to prevent future urinary tract infections. Other UTI prevention strategies include voiding regularly to prevent bacteria accumulation in your urine, wiping from front to back, using cotton-lined panties, urinating after sexual relations and drinking six to eight cups of water daily.
Never try to treat a UTI by drinking or bathing in apple cider vinegar. In some cases, home remedies may relieve symptoms, but don't expect them to eliminate the infection, which typically requires antibiotics. Failure to seek prompt diagnosis and treatment from a physician may allow the bacteria to progress to your kidneys. At that point, you could develop multiple serious complications, including a kidney infection or sepsis, a potentially life-threatening blood infection that typically requires hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics.
- Dartmouth College Health Services: Urinary Tract Infection
- National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Urinary Traction Infection in Adults
- “Treatment of the Postmenopausal Woman”; Dr. Rogerio Lobo; 2007
- “Dr. Earl Mindell’s Amazing Apple Cider Vinegar”; Dr. Earl Mindell, R. Ph.; 2002
- “What Women Need to Know”; Dr. Marianne Legato, et al.; 2005
- Medline Plus: Sepsis