A urinary tract infection (UTI) is not a fun experience for men and women. However, while it is certainly most prevalent in women, it is not exclusive to any gender. Sorry! A few factors cause urinary tract infection and many different symptoms that can vary depending on the gender of the infected person. Read on to learn more about UTI treatment without antibiotics, what they are, how to treat them, and answer any other questions you may have.
Each year, there are over 8 million visits to medical clinics in the US alone from patients struggling with a UTI. In fact, it is estimated that about 40-60% of women will have a UTI at some point in their lives.
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What is a urinary tract infection?
A urinary tract infection is an infection of your urinary tract. Your urinary tract includes your bladder, urethra, or even your kidneys. It is not uncommon for kidney infections to be wrongly diagnosed as urinary tract infections. The urinary tract can become infected when bacteria, often E.coli, makes their way into the urinary tract.
What are the symptoms of UTI?
There are many symptoms of a UTI. However, most of these symptoms are not exclusive to UTIs and can often lead to misdiagnosis. If you are unsure about the symptoms you’re experiencing, it’s best to see a professional rather than self-diagnosing online. These are some of the most common symptoms to look out for:
- Burning sensation while urinating. Any pain you feel when urinating can be a sign of a UTI, even if you wouldn’t necessarily describe it as burning.
- Frequent need to urinate. You may often feel the need to “go,” but very little urine comes out, sometimes none at all)
- Blood in your urine
- Urine leaking
- Cloudy urine
- Foul-smelling urine
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Lower back pain
- High temperature
- Wetting the bed (common in children with UTIs)
How to treat a UTI?
There are several ways to treat a UTI. Often, a doctor may prescribe mild painkillers, rest, and encouragement to drink plenty of water. The British National Health Service (NHS) recommends paracetamol up to four times a day, especially if you struggle with a high temperature or fever. The NIDDK suggests drinking as much water as possible unless you have urinary incontinence or kidney failure.
Are there natural remedies for UTI treatment without antibiotics?
There are plenty of natural options for UTI treatment without antibiotics, including herbal medicine. Most commonly, any fruit that contains A-type proanthocyanins (PACs) tends to be tremendously effective at soothing UTIs for many people. It is most common for people to eat or drink cranberries to get these wonderful PACs though they are present in almost all berries and grapes. They are also common in red wine, though it might not be a good idea if you have a UTI as alcohol dehydrates!
Are there risks to not treating a UTI with antibiotics?
As mentioned above, UTIs and kidney infections are very closely linked. Leaving a UTI unchecked for a long time can result in a kidney infection. In some cases, it can infect both kidneys, which can be very painful and dangerous. In addition, permanently reducing your kidney function can lead to kidney failure. However, alternative treatments to antibiotics can be effective against UTIs.
Home remedies for UTIs
There are a ton of great things you can do at home to help remedy your UTI. However, staying within your comfort zone and avoiding drastic lifestyle changes like drinking too much water that eventually makes you sick is essential. Follow these guidelines:
- Eat Berries such as cranberries
- Drink plenty of water
- Urinate whenever you feel the need
- Get vitamin C (orange juice is hydrating and a good source of vitamin C)
- Wear looser clothing (wearing more open underwear can help keep your urethra dry)
- A heating pad or bottle of hot water can be very soothing
Is UTI treatment without antibiotics possible?
Yes, you absolutely can treat a UTI without the use of antibiotics. In fact, while antibiotics are one of the most commonly used drugs for UTIs, they are becoming less effective across the board due to antibiotic resistance of the bacteria. As a result, you’re sometimes encouraged to explore alternatives to antibiotic treatment if that’s something you are comfortable doing. Antibiotics may be faster; often, they only take 2-4 days to start showing signs of improvement, but they aren’t necessarily best for everyone.
If you are unsure, it’s best to speak to your doctor.
Alternative Therapeutic Options for the Treatment of UTI
There are various alternative options for the therapeutic treatment of UTIs. As previously discussed, foods with PACs like berries and grapes help prevent bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall. This means they are an effective form of treatment and preventative measure.
Additionally, propolis can be incredibly soothing. Propolis can be found in raw honey and is excellent at treating infections and inflammation.
Can probiotics help cure UTIs?
Probiotics are great for your gut health. But, most people don’t know they are also good at treating and preventing urinary tract infections.
Probiotics containing lactobacilli are excellent at protecting and restoring urogenital flora against bacteria and pathogens.
Probiotics are most effective at preventing recurrent UTIs in women. Some good sources of probiotics are as follows:
Does Vitamin C Work for UTI?
Yes! Vitamin C’s ascorbic acid can effectively treat a UTI and even help prevent it. Vitamin C is very effective at limiting the growth of bacteria in the urethra by acidifying the urine. Vitamin C can be consumed in food, drink, or in the form of supplements.
Fruit juices are good sources of vitamin C in moderation since they are very high in sugar. However, it is vital to continue to urinate whenever you feel the need, especially if you are managing to drink high volumes of water and juice.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) in Women
While everyone is susceptible to UTIs, women are 30 times more likely to get a UTI than their male counterparts. Additionally, women who do get a UTI have a 40% chance of getting another one in the next six months.
Women are far more likely to get a UTI since their urethra is far shorter than a man’s, and most UTIs are caused by bacteria entering the urethra.
5 Ways to Get Rid of UTI Quickly
You can do plenty of things to help ease a UTI’s symptoms. There is no sure-fire 100% guaranteed quick fix for getting rid of a UTI. However, you can take some steps to quicken the process. Here are five of the best things you can do to get rid of a UTI quickly:
- Drinking water
- Eating cranberries or drinking cranberry juice
- Rest (It is perfectly fine to take a day off work or school to speed up your recovery)
- Essential oils
- Vitamin C
UTI prevention methods
There are plenty of ways to prevent UTIs. Many of them have already been covered- PACs, drinking lots of water, vitamin C, probiotics, etc. Some other food products that can be preventative are garlic, apple cider vinegar, and honey.
However, the best way to prevent UTIs (especially in women) is to pee after sex. This is because, during sex, it’s very common for bacteria from the anus to make their way into the urethra. Its also why women are encouraged to wipe from front to back after using the bathroom to reduce the risk factors.
What are the causes of UTIs?
Urinary tract infections are, quite self explanatorily, an infection of the urinary tract by bacteria entering the urethra. As mentioned previously, this bacteria often comes from the anus.
Bacteria in the urinary tract are warm, damp, and often multiply very quickly since these are ideal conditions for the bacterium to thrive.
In addition, trapping bacteria in the urinary tract for a long time is a common cause of UTIs. Luckily, peeing whenever you feel pressed is enough to prevent the bacteria from building up (for most people).
Does Drinking lots of water help get rid of UTIs?
Yes, drinking lots of water is great for helping to treat recurrent UTIs and prevent them. As mentioned above, urinating regularly is an excellent way to ensure you are constantly flushing any bacteria out of the urethra.
The more you drink fluids, the more you’ll urinate. If you already have a UTI, it may be tempting to avoid drinking because peeing can be painful and cause a burning sensation. Unfortunately, you will still need to urinate as frequently as necessary.
You will find that “holding in” your pee despite needing to go can aggravate your UTI even more. If you need mild pain killers to help the process, that’s perfectly fine.
Can Drinking Cranberry juice cure UTIs?
Yes! Cranberry is excellent at treating UTIs since it is incredibly rich in PACs. Any cranberry product should be good, including extracts and supplements.
Unsweetened juice from cranberry is recommended since it is far healthier and less diluted. Sugar dehydrates, so it’s best avoided when taking on as much liquid as possible.
While cranberry is excellent for most people, especially women, it is not a sure-fire effective treatment for everyone.
The good thing is that cranberry juice is good for you anyway, so there is no harm in trying. At the very least, it aids your hydration while drinking sufficient water.
Cranberries also have a lot of Vitamin C and antioxidants, which are effective recurrent UTI preventative and treatment measures.
How to Ease the Pain of a UTI
There are various recommendations for curing UTI pain from various worldwide medical boards. However, there is a consensus that since UTI symptoms vary so much, it is essential to treat the pain with medicine on a case-by-case basis.
In most cases, taking paracetamol four times daily and drinking plenty of water is fine.
Some non-medicinal pain relief can come from a heating pad or hot water bottle, which should be applied to your pelvis and your stomach.
Additionally, comfy clothing and rest are a great way to help ease the pain of a UTI. Moving around, working, and going to school are all likely to increase inflammation and cause more irritation.
If possible, staying in bed for the day and sleeping when possible, drinking plenty of water, and wearing loose-fitting clothes can make a difference.
When to see a doctor
UTIs can be dangerous. There are risks that the infection spreads to your bladder and kidneys if left unchecked for too long. It is hard to specify exactly when you need to see a doctor, so it’s best to pre-empt this section with this. If in doubt – go to the doctor for standard treatment.
If you are unsure, some signs to look out for are fever, vomiting, shivers, and large amounts of blood in your urine. These are symptoms often linked to kidney damage that can lead to kidney failure if not caught quickly.
It won’t hurt to speak to a professional if you aren’t sure. The worst that will happen is you’ll be given signs to look for if you feel the need to go back to see them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hopefully, this article has answered most of your questions already. If not, here are some of Quora and Reddit’s most common queries regarding urinary tract infections.
Yes, you absolutely can recover entirely from a UTI with no complications without the need for antibiotics. Some estimate that 25-42% of UTI infections clear up on their own accord. Often alongside natural home remedies such as cranberry juice, probiotics, and drinking plenty of water.
One clinical study with female participants over the age of 65 found that UTIs left untreated would clear up within a week in some cases. However, with antibiotics, it could be as quick as just a few days.
Using home remedies to treat UTIs is an excellent way to speed up recovery. However, most cases of UTIs won’t become “cured” quickly without antibiotics. There is no immediate fix, and recovery time can vary.
If you wish to use home remedies to help speed up the recovery process, here are some things you can do.
- Drink lots of water
- Take vitamin C supplements, drinks, or foods.
- Pee frequently whenever you feel the need
- Wipe carefully when you go to the bathroom
- Wear loose-fitting clothing
- Take probiotics
- Get lots of rest
Urinary tract infections can be cured without antibiotics by resting well and drinking lots of water, eating fruit, and peeing whenever you feel the need.
However, in some cases, antibiotics are required to reduce the risk of contracting a kidney infection which can result in kidney failure.
So if you discover that your condition hasn’t improved after a week at home, drinking a lot of fluids and getting lots of rest, it might be best to contact your doctor.
For men, urinary tract infections are not as common as for women; but they can still get them. However, while female UTIs typically come from bacteria in the anus, male UTIs tend to come from the bladder.
For this reason, you may not have as much success with home remedies and may require oral antibiotics. Some suitable home treatments include drinking plenty of water, getting plenty of rest, and ensuring you urinate whenever you feel the need to.
Don’t “hold” your pee in to avoid burning sensations.
Yes, they absolutely can go away on their own. You may not need to see the doctor at all. You may not even require mild painkillers to manage your UTI. However, they are far less painful and resolve themselves far faster by making an effort to take care of yourself and drink lots of water.
If left untreated, you risk contracting a kidney infection or the infection spreading to your bladder.
Many at-home remedies can eliminate a UTI without needing to see the doctor. As mentioned previously in the article, ensure you consume plenty of water and experiment with probiotics and PACs to know if they can positively affect your recovery time.
Many people feel they don’t have time to see the doctor or are too embarrassed to do so. However, you should not be ashamed because UTIs are so common that over 8,000,000 UTI appointments are made annually in the USA.
If in doubt, speak to a professional.
There are a few over-the-counter treatments for UTIs that can help alleviate symptoms. Suppose you are hoping to use antibiotics. In that case, you may not be capable of getting those over-the-counter without a prescription from your doctor. However, paracetamol is an excellent choice for pain relief. In addition, it has anti-inflammatory properties, which can make a UTI far more tolerable.
Yes, a UTI can resolve itself without needing antibiotics or other medical treatment. However, it doesn’t hurt to concentrate on drinking more fluids and take probiotics and vitamin C supplements to speed up the process and make the entire process far more bearable. You risk making yourself worse and spreading the infection if you do not try to treat your urinary tract disease. In addition, if the condition moves from your urinary tract to your bladder or kidneys, you may end up in the hospital ward due to kidney failure.
A UTI is not the same as an STD or STI. Despite sex being a common cause of UTIs, it is not the only source of the infection. This is not something you need to be embarrassed about, nor is it a condition you must disclose to a past sexual partner. An STD, on the other hand, is a sexually transmitted disease typically transmitted through sexual intercourse or other sexual activities. STDs are transmitted from person to person; UTIs do not require another person to occur.
While you very well may have developed a UTI from having sexual intercourse with your partner, there is no way of knowing that is the cause. Additionally, it is NOT a sign of cheating nor the same as contracting an STD/STI. An excellent way to avoid contracting a UTI during sex is for all parties to ensure they are practicing good genital hygiene.
Hopefully, this comprehensive guide to UTIs has answered your questions about what causes UTIs, the symptoms to watch out for, and how to cure them/speed up recovery.
Recurrent UTI conditions are nothing to be ashamed of and are unfortunately very common, especially in women. However, they are not exclusive to adults as children, especially girls, struggle with infection from time to time.
Therefore, it’s vital to talk to a doctor if you aren’t sure of your symptoms or if you don’t seem to be getting better.
Talking to a doctor promptly and being provided with a prescription for antibiotics can save you a lot of pain and reduce the risk of more serious issues like kidney failure or bladder infections.