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Urine Infection (cont.)

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Are there any home remedies for a urinary tract infection (UTI)?

The best "home remedy" for a UTI is prevention (see section below). However, although there are many "home remedies" available from web sites, holistic medicine publications, and from friends and family members; there is controversy about them in the medical literature as few have been adequately studied. However, a few remedies will be mentioned because there may be some positive effect from these home remedies. The reader should be aware that while reading about these remedies (the term means to correct, relieve, or cure), they should not to overlook the frequent admonition that UTIs can be dangerous. If the person does not experience relief or if his or her symptoms worsen over one to two days, the person should seek medical care. In fact, many of the articles about UTI remedies actually describe ways to reduce or prevent UTIs. Examples of home treatments that may help to prevent UTIs, that may have some impact on an ongoing infection, and that are unlikely to harm people are as follows:

  • Increasing fluid intake: This may work by washing out organisms in the tract, making it more difficult for pathogens to adhere or stay in close proximity to human cells.
  • Not delaying in emptying the bladder (urination): This has the same effects of increasing fluid intake and helps the bladder reduce the number of pathogens that may reach the bladder.
  • Eating cranberries or blueberries or drinking their unsweetened juice: These berries contain antioxidants that may help the immune system, and some investigators suggest they contain compounds that reach the urine and reduce the adherence of pathogens to human cells.
  • Eating pineapple: Pineapple contains bromelain that has anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce UTI symptoms.
  • Taking vitamin C: Vitamin C may function to increase urine acidity to reduce bacterial growth.
  • Using other methods: Yogurt, Echinacea, baking soda, Oregon grape root, and aromatherapy have had people claim effectiveness in treating UTIs, but the mechanisms are not clear.

The problem with these home remedies is that standard testing data and results with known amounts or concentrations of these compounds are usually not available. For example, how much cranberry juice is effective for a woman with known cystitis? Most publications do not answer this simple question, and some say that sweetened cranberry juice may aggravate the infection. In addition, it pays to read the entire label for these products as many have a caveat at the end of the ad that says the product does not claim it will cure UTIs. If people elect to try home remedies, they should clearly understand that if symptoms are not reduced or if they get worse, medical care should be sought. Most home remedies do not “cure” a bacterial infection, although a few mild UTIs may be cleared by the body's immune defense system. Home remedies may be dangerous if they cause a person to delay medical care in serious UTIs.

There are over-the-counter (OTC) tests available for detecting presumptive evidence for a UTI (for example, AZO test strips). These tests are easy to use and can provide a presumptive diagnosis if the test instructions are carefully followed; a positive test should encourage the person to seek medical care.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/7/2014


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