The Mayo Clinic website describes a urinary tract infection, or UTI, as an infection in any part of the urinary system, including the bladder, urethra (the tube that drains urine from the bladder to the outside of the body), the kidneys, and the ureters (the tubes that drain urine from the kidneys into the bladder). Women get urinary tract infections more often than men and the infection most often occurs in the lower part of the urinary system, the urethra or bladder. Unfortunately, I experienced a UTI recently, and it was absolutely miserable. I had many of the typical symptoms, including a painful burning sensation when urinating, frequent and urgent need to urinate, dark-colored and strong-smelling urine, pelvic pressure, and some nausea.
As soon as I woke up with symptoms of a UTI, I called my doctor to schedule an appointment. Urinary tract infections often require antibiotics and since the urinary system includes the kidneys, and kidney infections can be very serious, I didn’t want to mess around and delay treatment. However, my doctor wasn’t able to see me until the next day, and I was experiencing some significant discomfort, so I wanted to take some immediate steps to try to find some relief.
I don’t want to suggest that you delay or avoid medical treatment if you think you might have a UTI. However, there are some home remedies that might help until you can see a doctor, and they might help relieve the discomfort while you wait for antibiotics to kick in.
Water, Water, Water
Probably the most important thing you can do if you have a urinary tract infection is to drink a lot of water. Web MD explains that drinking plenty of water will dilute your urine and cause you to urinate frequently, flushing bacteria out of the bladder and urethra. Make sure you urinate whenever you feel the urge, even if it’s painful; delaying urination just allows bacteria to continue growing in your bladder.
Cranberries and Blueberries
Many people have heard that drinking cranberry juice will help if you have a UTI. According to Medicine Net, both cranberries and blueberries contain antioxidants that boost the immune system and they may also contain compounds that help fight infection in the urinary tract. You can eat the berries or drink unsweetened cranberry or blueberry juice. Cranberry juice that is sweetened with sugar or high fructose corn syrup, however, should be avoided. Not only is it high in calories, but the sugar may actually feed the bacteria in your system and make any infection worse.
Peppermint Essential Oil
In their book Aromatherapy for Mind and Body, Carol and David Schiller explain that peppermint essential oil relieves pains and reduces inflammation. Adding eight to 10 drops of peppermint essential oil to a warm bath can help relieve discomfort associated with a urinary tract infection. I took two or three baths with peppermint essential oil every day until the symptoms of my urinary tract infection went away because it made me feel so much better. Here’s a little secret – if you urinate in a tub of warm water, it will hurt and burn much less!
In their book Herbalism, Frances Buning and Paul Hambly explain that echinacea is an herb used to treat infections and to boost the immune system. You can purchase echinacea in capsule form at most drugstores and many grocery stores. You can also take it in the form of tea.
Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/urinary-tract-infection/DS00286. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI).
Web MD. http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/urinary-tract-infections-in-teens-and-adults-home-treatment. Urinary Tract Infections in Teens and Adults: Home Treatment.
Medicine Net. http://www.onhealth.com/urine_infection/page8.htm#are_there_any_home_remedies_for_a_urinary_tract_infection_uti. Urine Infection: Are They Any Home Remedies for a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?
Schiller, David and Schiller, Carol. (2001). Aromatherapy for Mind and Body. New York. Sterling Publishing Company.
Buning, Frances and Hambly, Paul. (1993). Herbalism. Kent, Great Britain. Hodder and Stoughton Ltd.