Urinary tract infections (UTI), also known as cystitis, are far more common among women than in men. The reason for this is that the urethra in women is much shorter than in men, and also because it is situated very close to the anus and vagina, making it easier for bacteria to invade. The most common symptoms of UTI are a burning sensation while urinating, a feeling of heaviness in the bladder, the urge to pass urine frequently, and sometimes there may also be a fever. Among men, UTI manifests when a swollen prostrate gland impedes the flow of urine. It may be noted that similar symptoms can occur due to mechanical or chemical irritation, after sex or due to allergies, poor hygiene or even certain medications. If your doctor prescribes antibiotics, make sure you complete the course. You might also like to try out some of the following home remedies for quick relief.
- When you notice the first sign of UTI, prepare a drink of bicarbonate of soda by dissolving one-fourths of a teaspoon in 125 ml of water, and drink it after first drinking two glasses of plain water. It will make your urine less acidic, reducing the burning sensation when you urinate.
- Drink as much water as you possibly can, as flooding your urinary tract with water will flush out the bacteria when you pass urine. It will also make your urine more dilute and consequently less irritating.
- Stay away from citrus drinks, tomato juice, coffee and alcohol, because they make passing urine more painful.
- Prepare and drink a cup of garlic tea. Take a couple of garlic cloves, mash, and steep in warm water for five minutes, and drink. Garlic contains potent bacteria-killing compounds that help in overcoming UTI.
- Prepare a tea of lovage (from the carrot family). Take two teaspoons of minced and dried lovage and steep in boiling water for 10 minutes, strain and drink. The herb has anti-inflammatory properties and kills the bacteria causing UTI. It is also a known diuretic and flushes the system clean when you pass urine.
- If you are a vegetarian and develop UTI, your urine is likely to be alkaline. In such cases a herb called uva ursi is particularly useful. Non-vegetarians can also use this remedy, provided they maintain a strict diet of plenty of fruits and vegetables and avoid meat as far as possible. This is a herb that has been used for hundreds of years to treat UTI because it has antiseptic properties. It is available in tablet and capsule forms, and you may take it according to manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t take vitamin C at the same time as it will make your urine more acetic and neutralise the effects of the uva ursi. Do not take the herb if you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding.
Prevention is better than cure
- Pass urine regularly, at least once every four hours, and make sure to empty the bladder completely. When you think you are done, wait (women need to stand up) and try again one more time.
- Vitamin C and bioflavonoids guard your bladder against bacteria that tend to cling on to its lining, thus preventing UTI. You may take 1000 mg of vitamin C and 600 mg of bioflavonoids daily to prevent UTI.
- If you are using a spermicidal gel or a diaphragm, try some other contraceptive, as these can alter the bacteria in the vagina, which can then get into the urethra and infect it.
- Use only gentle, non perfumed soaps and avoid scented bath oils.
- Avoid foods like asparagus, spinach, beetroot, raw carrots, tomatoes, citrus fruits, strawberries, red meat and milk, as all of these can worsen UTI.
- Always wash your genitals before having sex, and pass urine afterwards, as the urine will flush out any bacteria that may have entered the urethra during intercourse.
- To prevent UTI, wear only loose, cotton underwear, and not the synthetic ones which keep the genital area warm and damp and make it ideal for bacteria to breed.
- Do not douche your vagina. Simple regular bathing and hygiene make douching completely unnecessary. If the smell of your vaginal discharge worries you, shower twice a day and wear clean underwear after bathing.