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Keep infections at bay: Seven home remedies to manage UTIs
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Keep infections at bay: Seven home remedies to manage UTIs

Antibiotics often come with side effects like nausea, dizziness and rashes. Experts suggest some simple measures for managing mild cases of urinary tract infections

Some home remedies to manage UTIs include ensuring adequate hydration, consuming probiotics and including vitamin C in your diet

Urinary tract infections (UTIs), experienced by both men and women, can cause pain in the urinary system, making life uncomfortable. While many resort to taking antibiotics at such times, research states that they can come with side effects like nausea, diarrhea and rashes. Hence, simple and effective home remedies such as adequate hydration, consuming probiotics and maintaining good intimate hygiene can be the best way to manage mild cases of such infections, say experts.

UTIs can affect the kidneys, urinary tube (which allows urine to pass outside the body) urethra (a tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body) and bladder. “Urinary tract infections mostly occur in the bladder,” says Dr V Mohankumar, consultant urologist and renal transplant surgeon, Manipal Hospital, Bangalore.

Home remedies and UTIs

Jayalaxmi Subudhi (30), a Bangalore-based HR professional, suddenly developed pain in her lower abdomen and had difficulty passing urine. On consulting a doctor, she was diagnosed with a UTI and was prescribed antibiotics for a few days.

“Despite taking the antibiotics, I was in severe pain for a week,” shares Subudhi. She then decided to go the natural way to manage her condition. Based on the suggestion of elders at home, she increased her water intake to eight glasses a day and applied turmeric paste on her belly, which helped drive away the infection in a few days.

Managing UTIs at home

Experts suggest the following easy-to-implement measures to prevent or manage UTIs:

1. Ensure adequate hydration

Those with dehydration are often at increased risk of UTIs. “Maintaining adequate water intake can help flush out the bacteria from the urinary tract, thereby playing an essential role in managing UTIs,” says Dr Brunda, consultant, internal medicine, Aster CMI Hospital, Bangalore.

Drinking eight to 10 glasses of water is important, as it will make you urinate, says Dr     Mohankumar. Urinating at regular intervals reduces one’s chances of getting a UTI.

2. Cranberry juice can prove effective

A review study published in the Cochrane Library revealed that cranberries can be an effective tool for treating UTIs. Cranberries contain certain compounds called proanthocyanidins (PACs), which prevent bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract. According to experts, one can drink around 300 to 400 ml of cranberry juice per day. “However, it is important to choose unsweetened, pure cranberry juice for maximum benefits,” says Dr Mohankumar.

3. Consume probiotics

Probiotics, microorganisms often found in fermented food, are considered beneficial for digestive health. Taking probiotics can help restore the healthy balance of good bacteria in the gut and urinary tract, which may be disrupted due to antibiotic use. The presence of good bacteria in the gut and urinary tract can help prevent UTIs.

4. Follow good intimate hygiene practices

Maintaining proper intimate hygiene is crucial, especially for women, given their increased susceptibility to UTIs. This stems from women having a shorter urethra compared to men, which brings their reproductive organs closer to the urinary tract.

Practices like urinating before and after sexual activity, wiping the anal or vaginal region from front to back and wearing breathable cotton underwear can help prevent infections as well as their recurrence. Additionally, you should always clean the toilet seat or use toilet disinfectants (sprays) before using a public restroom to reduce the risk of infections.

5. Include vitamin C in your diet

Having foods rich in vitamin C can provide protection against UTIs. Experts highlight that vitamin C helps in acidifying the urine, making it less conducive to bacterial growth. Hence, it’s essential to include citrus fruits (like oranges, lemons, grapefruit, etc.) in the diet. Apart from that, avoiding or limiting potential irritants such as caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods and nicotine can also help prevent UTI recurrence.

6. Do not hold urine

It’s crucial to urinate when you feel the urge, says Dr Brunda. Holding your urine for extended periods creates an ideal environment for bacterial growth. This, in turn, increases the risk of UTIs.

7. Make use of a heating pad and a warm bath

Applying a heating pad to the abdominal area may provide relief from the pain and discomfort associated with a UTI, say experts. Taking a bath in warm water can also help. Adding Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) to the bathing water can provide a soothing effect and enhance relaxation. However, if the symptoms persist or worsen, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional immediately.

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