How to Treat a UTI
If you’ve ever suffered from a urinary tract infection (UTI), you know just how irritating and disruptive the symptoms can be to your life. A urinary tract infection (UTI) begins when an infection attacks any part of your urinary system – the kidneys, bladder, urethra, and/or ureters.
Most infections attack the lower urinary tract that consists of the urethra and the bladder, and cause painful and annoying symptoms; however, serious complications can arise if the infection spreads from the lower urinary tract to the kidneys. Therefore, it’s important to seek medical attention at the first signs of a UTI to receive appropriate treatment and prevent serious complications.
In this article, we’ll be discussing the basics of UTI and how to treat a UTI, as well as outline some preventative measures you can take to minimize your risk of developing a UTI.
How Do You Get a UTI?
Getting a urinary tract infection is quite easy. Bacteria that reside in the genital, vaginal, or anal areas may gain access to the urethra and move to the bladder, triggering an infection.
While UTIs aren’t transmitted from person to person like sexually transmitted infections (STIs), engaging in sexual activity can result in or exacerbate UTIs. However, even without having sex, you can still get a UTI.
Risk factors for UTI include:
- Engaging in sexual intercourse, particularly more regularly and with several (or new) partners
- Poor personal hygiene
- Difficulty emptying your bladder completely
- Presence of a urinary catheter
- Kidney stones
- Bowel incontinence
- Undergoing surgical procedures on the urinary tract
Over-the-counter Medications for Treating UTIs
When you’re experiencing pain and discomfort caused by a UTI, every second can seem like an hour. Over-the-counter medications can reduce your symptoms before you seek medical assistance, or until the antibiotics begin to work.
Over-the-counter products fall into three categories:
- Products that reduce UTI symptoms but don’t treat the infection.
- Natural remedies found in big grocery or wellness stores, but not in pharmacies.
- Supplements that are helpful in stopping recurrent UTIs.
Here are five over-the-counter medications that can come in handy when you have a UTI:
AZO Urinary Pain Relief®
These maximum strength tablets contain an active ingredient called Phenazopyridine hydrochloride, a chemical that produces a local analgesic effect once released into the urine. Sadly, these tablets don’t treat the infection, they only alleviate the symptoms.
This medication should only be taken for three days before seeking medical attention. Additionally, if you suffer from liver issues, you should avoid taking these tablets.
AZO Urinary Tract DefenseTM
This relatively new over-the-counter medication for UTI entered the market in 2016, and are available in stores like Amazon. The active ingredient in this medicine is Methenamine that converts into formaldehyde to destroy the bacteria once it encounters acidic urine.
Just like AZO Urinary Pain Relief®, this UTI over-the-counter medication is not powerful enough to get rid of the infection completely.
At-home drug test kits are sold at most pharmacies or online and may make it easier for individuals to conduct drug testing at home.
Cystex Urinary Pain Relief Tablets
Like AZO Urinary Tract DefenseTM, the active ingredient in Cystex is Methenamine. So, the two products function almost the same way. Unlike other over-the-counter medications, Cystex won’t alter the color of your urine.
Cystex with Cranberry
This innovative product contains valuable ingredients like D-Mannose, Ascorbic Acid, FOS, Sodium Ascorbate, and Bromelain. Other essential ingredients are malic acid, sodium benzoate, filtered water, and natural fruit color.
Since it contains D-Mannose that is hard to find in a typical pharmacy, Cystex with Cranberry is worth buying.
Allicin, obtained from garlic essential oil, kills bacterial biofilms and it has proven broad antibacterial activity. Most pharmacies stock garlic supplements, but you can also purchase raw garlic, as it works. just like a supplement.
Prescription Treatments for UTIs
Doctors prescribe antibiotics as the first line treatment for UTIs. The type of drugs prescribed, and the duration of the prescription, vary with your health status and the kind of bacteria detected in your urine. Prescription drugs used in treating common UTIs include Trimethoprim, Nitrofurantoin, Cephalexin, Fosfomycin, and Ceftriaxone.
Doctors rarely recommend the group of antibiotic drugs called fluoroquinolones, including ciprofloxacin and levaquin, since these medications have greater risks than benefits. However, in some instances such as a serious kidney infection or UTI, your doctor might give you a fluoroquinolone medicine.
Top Three Preventative Strategies for UTI
One of the simplest ways to ward off, and treat, UTIs is to ensure that you are adequately hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Water assists the urinary tract organs in getting rid of wastes from the body effectively while maintaining important nutrients and electrolytes.
Sufficient hydration also waters down the urine and allows it to move faster through the system, preventing bacteria from reaching the cells lining the urinary organs.
Sufficient Vitamin C Intake
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps enhance immune system function. When exposed to nitrates present in urine, it reacts to create nitrogen oxides that can destroy bacteria. What’s more, vitamin C reduces the pH of urine, which lowers the chances of bacteria surviving.
Consuming products high in Vitamin C, such as citrus fruit, or taking a Vitamin C supplement will help to ensure you’re getting enough of this important vitamin.
Practice Good Sexual Hygiene
Sexual activity can introduce foreign bacteria and other microorganisms
into the urinary tract. Practicing good sexual hygiene goes a long way in minimizing the number of bacteria that partners can introduce into the urinary tract during sexual activities. Good sexual hygiene includes:
- Urinating before and right after sexual intercourse.
- Wearing barrier contraception, such as a condom.
- Thoroughly cleaning the genitals, particularly the foreskin, before and right after sexual intercourse.
Bear in mind that UTI symptoms can disappear before the infection is eliminated.
If home remedies don’t work and you’re prescribed antibiotics for a UTI, it’s important that you take the full course of treatment to make sure that the infection is completely cleared; this also helps to reduce the likelihood of antibiotic resistance.
Additionally, if you’re looking to reduce your risk of developing a UTI, staying hydrated, increasing your Vitamin C intake, and practicing good sexual hygiene, are good preventative measures that you can try.