Does your pee burn like red hot chili peppers? Have you been making endless trips to the bathroom but still feel like you need to pee again?
Bladder infections are one of those sneaky problems that come uninvited and hit you right in the gut – quite literally!
Anyone who has suffered from this problem knows what it is like to stay hooked to the toilet seat, hoping to relieve that feeling of ‘urgency’ yet getting nothing in return. As a result, you stay curled up in bed all day long with an uneasy feeling and stomach cramps. Or if you are able to urinate, you may try holding it in as long as possible to avoid the often unbearable burning pain when you pee.
A bladder infection, medically termed as cystitis, is a type of urinary tract infection (UTI) caused when a bacterial infection leads to the inflammation of the bladder.
While bladder infections are usually acute, early treatment is the key to prevent the infection from spreading and causing complications.
- Causes of Bladder Infections
- Symptoms of Bladder Infections
- Risk Factors for Bladder Infections
- Preventing Bladder Infections
- Home Remedies to Treat a Bladder Infection
- Method 1: Apple Cider Vinegar
- Method 2: Cranberry Juice or Pills
- Method 3: D-Mannose
- Method 4: Baking Soda
- Method 5: Coconut Oil
- Method 6: Alka-Seltzer
- Method 7: Stay Hydrated
- Tips to treat bladder infection at home
Causes of Bladder Infections
Bladder infections are primarily caused by the E. coli bacteria. The bacteria can live on the skin and in the intestines of a healthy individual without causing any ill effects. However, when it gets an opportunity to travel through the urethra up to the bladder and multiply, it leads to an infection. (1)
Women are much more susceptible to bladder infections than men, as a woman’s urethra is shorter and close to the vagina and anus, where the bacteria live.
A number of scenarios can allow the bacteria to travel up to the bladder, such as:
- Having sex.
- Wiping from back to front after a bowel movement.
- Putting in a tampon.
- Using a diaphragm for birth control.
- During pregnancy, the fetus can exert pressure on the bladder, preventing it from emptying completely. This gives bacteria just the right environment to thrive.
- Menopause can also change the balance of bacteria in the vagina, giving way to infection.
In men, the infection is usually caused by a prostate abnormality. Any blockage due to enlarged prostate or a prostate stone can prevent the bladder from emptying completely, giving rise to an infection.
Symptoms of Bladder Infections
- Pain or burning during urination.
- Cloudy or bloody urine.
- Frequent urination or urge to urinate.
- Foul-smelling urine.
- Cramping or pressure in the lower abdomen or lower back.
These symptoms may vary from person to person and will also depend upon the severity of the infection.
Risk Factors for Bladder Infections
A number of factors can increase your risk of developing a bladder infection. These include:
- Advancing age.
- Insufficient fluid intake.
- Surgical procedure within the urinary tract.
- Placement of a urinary catheter.
- Blockage in the bladder or urethra.
- Birth defects or injuries in the urinary tract.
- Narrow urethra.
- Bowel incontinence.
- Nervous system conditions that affect the bladder’s functioning.
- Weakened immune system.
Preventing Bladder Infections
To prevent contracting a bladder infection, you can adopt the following lifestyle changes:
- Drink six to eight glasses of water a day.
- Don’t hold back urine. Urinate as soon as you feel the need.
- Wipe from front to back after urination or a bowel movement.
- Don’t use douches and avoid frequent use of feminine hygiene sprays, scented soaps or powders.
- Take showers instead of baths.
- Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitted clothes.
- Avoid using a diaphragm or spermicide for birth control.
- Use non-spermicidal lubricated condoms.
- Urinate before and after sexual intercourse.
Home Remedies to Treat a Bladder Infection
Most doctors would prescribe antibiotics to get rid of a bladder infection. But over time, the bacteria can become resistant to these medications, making infections difficult to treat.
For relatively mild infections, trying out a few home remedies is a better and safer route to choose.
Here are 7 home remedies to get rid of a bladder infection at home.
Method 1: Apple Cider Vinegar
Raw apple cider vinegar is the most effective remedy to get rid of a bladder infection. Apple cider vinegar that contains the ‘mother’, the sediment in the bottom of the jar, is rich in enzymes that can restore and increase the healthy bacteria in your body and outnumber the E. coli in the bladder. (2)
However, for the apple cider vinegar to work effectively, you need to start taking it as soon as the symptoms of infection appear.
Single-Step Treatment: Drink diluted apple cider vinegar thrice daily
- Add about 2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar to a glass of water. You can also add some lemon and honey to improve the taste.
- Stir well and consume the drink.
- You should get relief from the burning after 1 hour of drinking the first glass. Continue to drink the diluted apple cider vinegar 3 times daily for 2 to 3 days to clear up the infection completely.
Also, as a preventive measure, add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water and drink it 20 minutes before each meal. Do this for 1 week to prevent the infection from coming back. Consuming this drink every day will also help improve your overall health.
Method 2: Cranberry Juice or Pills
For the bacteria to thrive, it must adhere to the lining of the bladder. Cranberries contain a compound called proanthocyanidins that interfere with the ability of bacteria to adhere to the cells that line the bladder wall. As a result, the bacteria get flushed out of the bladder through the urine. (1)
Single-Step Treatment: Drink cranberry juice 3 times daily
- Drink a glass of cranberry juice 3 times daily.
- Alternatively, you can take 500 mg cranberry capsules 3 times daily.
- Consuming cranberry juice or supplements will help reduce the symptoms after just 1 day and clear up the infection in 1 week.
As a preventive measure, you can continue to drink a glass of cranberry juice every day. You can also include fresh cranberries in your cereal, porridge, oatmeal or smoothies.
Method 3: D-Mannose
D-mannose is a type of sugar that can work wonders for a bladder infection. The sugar does not get metabolized by your body and it sticks to the E. coli proteins to a greater degree than the E. coli can stick to the bladder lining. As a consequence, the bacteria fail to adhere to the bladder walls and get flushed out during urination.
Single-Step Treatment: Consume D-mannose every day
- Take a 500 mg D-mannose tablet or capsule at bedtime.
- Alternatively, mix 1½ teaspoons of D-mannose powder into a ½ glass of water and drink it. Do this every 2 to 3 hours.
- Taking D-mannose will help ease up the pain and discomfort after 48 hours. Continue the dosage for 1 week to get rid of a bladder infection completely.
Method 4: Baking Soda
Baking soda can also be taken in moderation to help neutralize the acidity in your urine to create a hostile environment for the bacteria. You can add lemon juice that also works as an alkalizing agent and has antibacterial properties. You can learn how to use lemon for various health benefits here. (1)
Things you’ll need:
- Baking soda (alkalizing agent) – 1 teaspoon
- Lemon juice (antibacterial) – 1 teaspoon
- Water – 1 glass
Single-Step Treatment: Mix baking soda and lemon in water & drink thrice daily
- Mix 1 teaspoon each of lemon juice and baking soda in a glass of water.
- Consume the drink 3 times a day for the first 1 or 2 days.
- When the symptoms improve, reduce the frequency to 2 times a day. Continue drinking it for 5 to 7 days to get rid of a bladder infection completely.
Method 5: Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties, making it a cure-all for health maladies. It also works quite effectively in treating a bladder infection by killing the bad bacteria without hampering the good bacteria in your body. (1)
Single-Step Treatment: Consume extra-virgin coconut oil 2 times a day
- Consume 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin coconut oil 2 times daily for 1 to 2 weeks.
- If you find it difficult to gulp down the oil, you can add it to your smoothies.
Method 6: Alka-Seltzer
Alka-Seltzer can be used for interim relief or to help you get through the night, but it will not cure the underlying condition. It contains aspirin that works as a pain reliever and sodium bicarbonate that helps alkalize your urine temporarily.
Single-Step Treatment: Drink Alka-Seltzer 2 or 3 times daily
- Drop 2 Alka-Seltzer tablets in 1 cup of water.
- Stir well until the tablets completely dissolve in the water.
- Drink it up.
- You can take it 2 or 3 times a day to get temporary relief from the burning and pain caused by the bladder infection. However, you will need other home remedies or medication to treat the infection.
Method 7: Stay Hydrated
Keeping your body well-hydrated is critical when trying to recover from a bladder infection. Water helps flush out the bacteria from your system by making you urinate more. (1)
Single-Step Treatment: Drink plenty of water
- Be sure to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day when suffering from a bladder infection.
- Urinate as much as you can to flush out the bacteria quickly and get relief from the burning and pain.
Tips to treat bladder infection at home
- You can also take vitamin C supplements to increase your body’s resistance to infection. As little as 100 mg per day can help ward off infections. Consult your doctor before starting any supplement regimen.
- Use more garlic in your food. It contains a powerful compound called allicin that has antibacterial and antiviral properties.
- Consume probiotics like Greek yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and miso to increase the good bacteria in your body and boost your immunity.
- Avoid consuming caffeine, as it can irritate the lining of your bladder.
- If the pain is unbearable, use a hot water bottle to soothe and relax your abdominal muscles.
1. Pulipati S, Babu PS, Narasu L, Anusha N. An overview on urinary tract infections and effective natural remedies. Journal of Medicinal Plants Studies. http://www.plantsjournal.com/archives/?year=2017&vol=5&issue=6&part=A&ArticleId=725. Published November 1, 2017.
2. Yagnik D, Serafin V, Shah AJ. (PDF) Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar. Scientific Reports. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322766326. Published January 29, 2018.
Summary of How to Get Rid of a Bladder Infection
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