Elizabethton, TN UTI Specialist
Natural UTI Treatment
A urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria or another infectious agent invades the urinary tract. While antibiotics are the conventional treatment for UTIs, there is a growing concern that antibiotics may possibly contribute to recurrent UTIs, or even create antibiotic-resistant, UTI-causing bacteria.
Natural treatment options for urinary tract infections are available, and may be used alone or in conjunction with conventional healing to promote rapid healing and prevent re-infection.
What Is a UTI?
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the most common infection in humans, and are caused by microbes that infect the urethra, bladder, ureters, or kidneys. Causes of UTIs are primarily bacteria--almost always E. coli, but sometimes K. pneumoniae--though funguses like Candida or viruses like adenovirus and polyomavirus can be responsible in rare cases.
Risk factors for UTIs can include:
- Weak immune system
- Multiple sclerosis
- Any condition that affects urine flow, such as kidney stones, stroke, prostatitis (swollen prostate), and spinal cord injury
People with vaginas have a 50% chance of experiencing a UTI in their lifetimes due to the close proximity of the urethra to the anus; bacteria from the intestines can easily enter the urethra and travel up to the bladder. Sexual intercourse can also contribute to bacterial exposure and, therefore, UTIs. People with a history of recurrent UTIs will typically have one infection per year.
UTIs are usually diagnosed through testing of a urine sample for microbes. If a urinary tract infection is suspected of affecting the kidneys or ureters (tubes that transport urine from the kidneys to the bladder), a blood culture may be ordered to check the blood for infection. Recurrent UTIs may require an ultrasound to check for kidney damage.
Symptoms of UTIs
Urinary tract infection symptoms vary depending on the location of the infection. While most UTIs only involve the urethra and bladder, UTIs can involve any part of the urinary tract, including the kidneys. An infection of the urethra or bladder is referred to as a lower UTI, while upper UTIs affect the kidneys and ureters. Upper UTIs are much more severe and can even be life-threatening.
Lower UTI symptoms include:
- Burning sensation during urination
- Increased urinary frequency
- Urgent need to urinate
- Bloody, cloudy, dark, or foul-smelling urine
- Pelvic or rectal pain
Upper UTI symptoms include:
- Pain and tenderness in the upper back and sides
Seek medical treatment if you are experiencing any UTI symptoms. While most urinary tract infections are not severe, it is important that they are properly diagnosed and treated. If left unchecked, UTIs can significantly affect the kidneys and other organs, causing chronic progressive kidney disease and abscesses--large, painful pockets of pus--on and around the kidneys.
Treatment for UTIs
UTI treatment is aimed at eliminating the infection, usually through the use of antimicrobial medications or other substances. In the case of natural treatment for UTIs, therapies are usually chosen because they may be able to prevent future urinary tract infections.
Traditional UTI Treatment
Traditional treatment for urinary tract infections is a course of antibiotics. A three-day regimen is standard, but the length can vary depending on the severity of the infection; for example, adults with prostatitis (infected prostate) may be prescribed a month-long course of antibiotics.
Healthcare providers may also recommend that patients with UTIs:
- Drink large amounts of water to help flush out the infection
- Urinating when the urge is felt
- Avoid coffee, alcohol, and spicy foods, all of which irritate the bladder
- Use a heating pad, or take phenazopyridine or a similar drug for the pain
If the UTI has progressed to the kidneys, treatment may be more aggressive and could include IV antibiotics or hospitalization. Patients with recurrent (more than 3 a year) UTIs may be prescribed a low dose of antibiotics to take for an extended period of time, or for only a few days every time symptoms appear.
Natural UTI Treatment
One goal of natural urinary tract infection treatment is to restore the body's natural bacterial flora--especially in the vagina--after antibiotics have disrupted its balance. Some patients with UTIs may prefer to treat their infection without any antibiotic in order to avoid contributing to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which can lead to recurrent UTIs. Whether taken in conjunction with or in lieu of antibiotics, natural remedies for UTIs may include:
- Cranberries or cranberry juice, which may stop bacteria from attaching to the walls of the urinary tract
- Probiotics, which may restore the microbiota and help the immune system combat the infection
- Garlic, which can act as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune booster
- Drinking diluted apple cider vinegar, which will make the urine more acidic, thus inhibiting bacteria growth
- Vitamin C supplements, which also make the urine more acidic
Talk to your healthcare provider about which treatment can best clear up your infection and restore your body's balance of microbes, especially if you are taking a probiotic, as some probiotics may contribute to the growth of the infectious bacteria.
Request Your Appointment Today
Urinary tract infections can be painful, but they are easily treatable, and some treatments can even prevent future infections. To meet with a healthcare practitioner in Elizabethton who can help treat your UTI and keep it from coming back, call (423) 301-6964 or contact Tri-Cities Functional Medicine online.
Tri-Cities Functional Medicine
Address404 S. Roan St.
Johnson City, TN 37601
8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Tue: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Wed: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Thu: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm