Wed | Dec 6, 2023

Natural remedies for urinary tract infection

Published:Wednesday | May 10, 2023 | 12:17 AM
Drinking water increases urine output and flushes the bacteria from your bladder and urethra. Sometimes that is enough
Drinking water increases urine output and flushes the bacteria from your bladder and urethra. Sometimes that is enough

A URINARY tract infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria get into your urinary tract – kidneys, bladder, or urethra. The role of the urinary tract is to make and store urine. The bladder stores urine until it is emptied by urinating through the urethra, which is at the end of the penis in a male and above the vaginal opening in a female.

When you have a UTI, the lining of the bladder and the urethra become irritated and can cause pain in the pelvic area, lower abdomen, and even lower back. This will usually make you feel like urinating more often.

Overall, females are more likely to develop a UTI than males, with 40 to 60 per cent of females developing an infection at least once in their life and 10 per cent of females developing a UTI once a year. Females are at a higher risk than males because their urethra is shorter, which makes it easier for bacteria to enter the bladder.

According to Dr Orlando Thomas, medical doctor and functional medicine practitioner at Thomas Medical Centre in Old Harbour, St Catherine, a UTI is a common problem that occurs mostly in women.

“UTI is a common problem that plagues many women and men to a lesser extent, but more so women. It tends to be named the ‘honeymoon cystitis’ because it tends to occur right after sex within a few hours or a few days,” Dr Thomas said.

According to Dr Thomas, the symptoms of a UTI are very common, and a regular general practitioner or family doctor can diagnose it easily. Some of these symptoms, he said, include burning on urination, frequent urination, small amounts of urine that cause intense lower abdominal pain.

“You may even pass blood in the urine, and occasionally, the UTI may become complicated where the infection spreads to your kidneys. That can cause back pain and fever,” he said.

A UTI infection, he said, must not be taken lightly and must be treated with the seriousness it deserves. “So if you are pregnant, diabetic, or if a child has the infection, these can warrant significant medical intervention. Younger children may not be able to tell you about UTI symptoms they are having. While fever is the most common sign of a UTI in infants and toddlers, most children with fever do not have a UTI,” he added.

UTIs are normally treated with a short-term course of antibiotics. Most women are given a three-day course of antibiotic capsules or tablets. Men, pregnant women, and people with more serious symptoms may need a slightly longer course.

Your symptoms will normally pass within three to five days of starting treatment. Make sure you complete the whole course of antibiotics that you have been prescribed even if you are feeling better.

Dr Thomas also indicated that for less chronic cases of a UTI, there are a number of natural remedies that can be utilised, including drinking plenty of fluids, drinking cranberry juice, use of garlic, cloves, and oregano oil.

“Drinking water increases urine output and flushes the bacteria from your bladder and urethra. Sometimes that is enough. However, you can add cranberry juice as it acidifies the urine and kills the germs that cause a UTI. The concentrated form is the best. There are also cranberry tablets now available especially for recurring UTIs,” he said.

Women, he said, should also desist from holding their urine when they need to urinate. Also, after sex, he recommends that women use the bathroom right away to prevent UTIs.