A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that affects any part of the urinary tract, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra (1Trusted Source).
Bacteria from the bowel are the most common cause of UTIs, but fungi and viruses can also cause infection.
The two strains of bacteria Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus saprophyticus account for about 80% of cases.
Common symptoms of UTI include:
A burning sensation when peeing
Cloudy or dark urine
Urine with a strong odor
A feeling of incomplete bladder emptying
Though UTIs can affect anyone, women are more prone to infection. This is because the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the bladder, is shorter in women than men. This makes it easier for bacteria to enter and reach the bladder.
In fact, nearly half of all women will experience a UTI at some point in their lives.
Antibiotics are used to treat UTIs and are sometimes used in low doses long-term to prevent recurrence.
There are also several natural ways to protect against infections and reduce the risk of recurrence.
Without further ado, here are the top 6 home remedies to fight UTI.
- Drink Plenty of Fluids
Hydration status has been linked to the risk of urinary tract infection.
This is because regular urination can help flush bacteria from the urinary tract to prevent infection.
One study examined participants with long-term urinary catheters and found that low urine output was associated with an increased risk of developing a UTI.
A 2003 study looked at 141 girls and showed that low fluid intake and infrequent urination were both linked to recurrent UTIs.
In another study, 28 women self-monitored their hydration status using a probe to measure their urine concentration. They found that an increase in fluid intake led to a decrease in UTI frequency.
To stay hydrated and meet your fluid needs, it’s best to drink water throughout the day and always when you’re thirsty.
- Increase Vitamin C Intake
Some evidence shows that increasing your intake of vitamin C could protect against urinary tract infections.
Vitamin C is thought to work by increasing the acidity of the urine, thereby killing off the bacteria that cause infection.
A 2007 study of UTIs in pregnant women looked at the effects of taking 100 mg of vitamin C every day.
The study found that vitamin C had a protective effect, cutting the risk of UTIs by more than half in those taking vitamin C compared to the control group.
Another study looked at behavioral factors that affected the risk of UTIs and found that a high vitamin C intake decreased the risk.
Fruits and vegetables are especially high in vitamin C and are a good way to increase your intake.
Red peppers, oranges, grapefruit and kiwifruit all contain the full recommended amount of vitamin C in just one serving.
- Drink Unsweetened Cranberry Juice
Drinking unsweetened cranberry juice is one of the most well-known natural remedies for urinary tract infections.
Cranberries work by preventing bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract, thus preventing infection.
In one recent study, women with recent histories of UTIs drank an 8-ounce (240-ml) serving of cranberry juice every day for 24 weeks. Those who drank cranberry juice had fewer UTI episodes than the control group.
Another study showed that consuming cranberry products may lower the number of UTIs in a year, especially for women who have recurrent UTIs.
A 2015 study showed that treatment with cranberry juice capsules equivalent to two 8-ounce servings of cranberry juice could cut the risk of urinary tract infections in half.
However, some other studies suggest that cranberry juice may not be as effective in the prevention of UTIs.
One review looked at 24 studies with a total of 4,473 participants. Though some smaller studies did find that cranberry products could reduce UTI frequency, other larger studies found no benefit.
Although the evidence is mixed, cranberry juice may be helpful in reducing the risk of urinary tract infections.
Keep in mind that these benefits only apply to unsweetened cranberry juice, rather than sweetened commercial brands.
- Take a Probiotic
Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that are consumed through food or supplements. They can promote a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut.
Probiotics are available in supplement form or can be found in fermented foods, such as kefir, kimchi, kombucha and probiotic yogurt.
The use of probiotics has been linked to everything from improved digestive health to enhanced immune function (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
Some studies also show that certain strains of probiotics may decrease the risk of UTIs.
One study found that Lactobacillus, a common probiotic strain, helped prevent UTIs in adult women.
Another study found that taking both probiotics and antibiotics was more effective at preventing recurrent UTIs than using antibiotics alone.
Antibiotics, the main line of defense against UTIs, can cause disturbances in levels of gut bacteria. Probiotics may be beneficial in restoring gut bacteria after antibiotic treatment.
Studies have shown that probiotics can increase levels of good gut bacteria and reduce side effects associated with antibiotic use.
- Practice These Healthy Habits
Preventing urinary tract infections starts with practicing a few good bathroom and hygiene habits.
First, it’s important not to hold urine for too long. This can lead to a buildup of bacteria, resulting in infection.
Peeing after sexual intercourse can also reduce the risk of UTIs by preventing the spread of bacteria.
Additionally, those who are prone to UTIs should avoid using spermicide, since it has been linked to an increase in UTIs.
Finally, when you use the toilet, make sure you wipe front to back. Wiping from back to front can cause bacteria to spread to the urinary tract and is associated with an increased risk of UTIs.
- Try These Natural Supplements
Several natural supplements may decrease the risk of developing a UTI.
Here are a few supplements that have been studied:
D-Mannose: This is a type of sugar that is found in cranberries and has been shown to be effective in treating UTIs and preventing recurrence.
Bearberry leaf: Also known as uva-ursi. One study showed that a combination of bearberry leaf, dandelion root and dandelion leaf decreased UTI recurrence.
Cranberry extract: Like cranberry juice, cranberry extract works by preventing bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract.
Garlic extract: Garlic has been shown to have antimicrobial properties and may be able to block the growth of bacteria to prevent UTIs.