Bladder infections, also known as UTIs (urinary tract infections,) are a miserable experience. With the constant need to urinate; and the intense, burning pain that accompanies urination; bladder infections frequently send their victims rushing to the doctor for a prescription. (If urgency and painful urination are accompanied by fever, blood in the urine, and/or pain in the area of the kidneys; you should see a doctor as soon as possible. These symptoms indicate that the problem is serious, and delay could be dangerous.)
Although men can get them, it’s much more common in women, with 50% of women getting at least one, and an unlucky 20% of women having recurring infections. You don’t need to worry though, there are many home remedies available to reduce the severity of symptoms and prevent recurrence.
The first, and most important, home remedy is drinking plenty of water. The temptation is to reduce liquid intake to minimize urination and avoid the burning, but that will only make the situation worse. The E. coli bacteria that cause bladder infections can double their numbers in twenty minutes, and every increase in bacteria also increases the severity of the symptoms. Drinking lots of water will flush the bacteria from the bladder, minimizing the pain and reducing the danger of complications. To ensure you’re drinking enough, check the color of your urine. If it’s not clear, you should increase your liquid intake.
Most people have heard that cranberry juice will cure bladder infections, but most doctors will tell you that isn’t true. There are some studies that have documented an effect, but there is still controversy about WHY that is true. Many think that it’s simply the effect of more liquids flushing out the bacteria, while others believe that the quinolic acid and vitamin C in cranberry juice have an effect. Whichever group is right, it is agreed that drinking cranberry juice won’t make the infection any worse. (http://www.mothernature.com/Library/Bookshelf/Books/47/14.cfm )
Taking vitamin C will increase the level of acidity in the urine and interfere with bacterial growth. About 1000mg, spread throughout the day, is the suggested dosage. This will also help to prevent recurrence once the infection is cleared, however, there are some antibiotics prescribed for bladder infections that don’t work well in acidic urine. Your doctor should always be told about any supplements or medications you’re taking to prevent the possibility of interactions.
Applying heat to the bladder area may help to relieve discomfort for some. This may be accomplished with a heating pad, or by taking a hot bath. In addition, taking ibuprophen or aspirin may reduce inflammation and help to reduce the pain associated with the infection.
Once you’ve gotten rid of the infection, there are some preventative measures that will minimize the chance that you’ll get another one. Keeping the bladder flushed by drinking plenty of liquids will reduce the chance that bacterial levels will increase to the point of infection, as will continuing to get plenty of vitamin C.
In addition, women should always wipe from front to back after urinating, to prevent introducing naturally occurring bacteria from the vagina or perineum into the urethra. Staying clean is important, however, overdoing it can cause issues. Frequent douching, or the use of antibacterial soaps, can reduce the amount of “good” bacteria, allowing them to be replaced with the infectious E. coli.