- A bladder infection, also known as a urinary tract infection (UTI), can occur when bacteria grow uncontrollably inside the bladder. This type of infection can affect anyone, but it most often occurs in women.
- A bladder infection can usually be eliminated successfully with a combination of medical treatments and home remedies. Antibiotics and pain relievers are common medical treatments for bladder infections. Some helpful alternative treatments include drinking more water, urinating frequently, and applying heat.
- Practicing good hygiene and making certain lifestyle changes can help prevent future bladder infections.
About bladder infections
Bladder infections are also called urinary tract infections. They can develop when bacteria enter the urethra and travel up into bladder. The urethra is the tube that takes urine out of the body. Once bacteria go into the urethra, they can attach to the walls of the bladder and multiply quickly. The resulting infection can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as sudden urges to urinate, pain while urinating, and abdominal cramping. These symptoms may be eased with a combination of medical and home treatments. Here are seven of the most effective bladder infection remedies that you can try today.
Drink more water
Why it helps: Water flushes out the bacteria in your bladder, helping to eliminate the infection faster. It also dilutes your urine, so urination may be less painful. Urine is made of waste products and acids from your body. Concentrated, dark urine is more acidic and is sometimes more painful to pass when you have a bladder infection. Diluted urine is lighter in color and usually doesn’t burn as much.
- Drink at least 10 glasses of water each day. You should also avoid caffeinated drinks, including coffee, tea, and soda. Caffeine can irritate your bladder even more when you have an infection.
Why it helps: Frequent urination helps eliminate the infection by moving bacteria out of the bladder. “Holding it,” or not going to the bathroom when you need to, allows bacteria to continue multiplying inside in the bladder. It’s especially important to urinate after having sex. Sexual activity can push bacteria deeper into the urethra of both men and women. Urinating soon after sex flushes bacteria away from your urinary tract, preventing the germs from settling and causing an infection.
- Drink plenty of fluids so you can urinate, and go to the bathroom as soon as you can.
Why they help: Antibiotics kill the bacteria causing the bladder infection. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if your infection is severe or prolonged. Antibiotics may not always be needed. In some cases, a minor bladder infection can resolve on its own. It might cause symptoms for a day or two, but with increased hydration and urination, it may pass.
- Call your doctor if your symptoms are persisting for longer than three days and are becoming worse. You may need antibiotics to treat your bladder infection. The length of treatment might vary, depending on the specific drug your doctor prescribes. It’s important to take your medication for the full course, even if you feel better before it’s done. Taking the full dose helps ensure that the harmful bacteria are out of your system.
Why they help: Severe bladder infections can cause pain in the pelvic region even when you’re not urinating. Antibiotics will help you feel better, but it may take a day or two before the drugs kick in. Taking pain medications in the meantime can help relieve any abdominal cramps, back pain, or discomfort you may feel while urinating.
Why it helps: Putting low heat across your abdominal region or back may soothe the dull ache that sometimes occurs during bladder infections. This can be especially helpful if medications aren’t enough to ease your discomfort.
Why it helps: Bacteria thrive in warm and moist environments. Tight jeans and other snugly fitting clothes can trap moisture in your most delicate areas, making them a breeding ground for bacteria. Wearing loose, casual clothing that allows your skin to breathe can keep the bacteria in your urinary tract at bay.
- Wear cotton underwear, loose pants, or skirts to promote air circulation and reduce bacteria growth.
Why it helps: Cranberry has been a natural treatment for bladder infections for generations. According to recent research, cranberry juice and cranberry tablets have shown some promise as a remedy for women who frequently experience bladder infections. However, it’s not entirely clear whether cranberry juice really works for treating bladder infections in the larger population.
- Talk to your doctor about using cranberry juice as an alternative treatment for your bladder infection. Drinking it probably won’t hurt, but it might not help as much as you would like.
Finding a Doctor for Bladder Infection
If you can't treat your bladder infection at home, seeing a primary care doctor is your best bet. Use the doctor search tool below, powered by our partner Amino, to find the right doctor for you based on factors like their experience and your insurance. Amino can also help book your appointment for free.
Preventing future bladder infections
The following lifestyle changes may help reduce or eliminate the occurrence of bladder infections:
- drink six to eight glasses of water a day
- urinate as soon as you feel the need
- take showers instead of baths
- wear cotton underwear
- change your underwear daily
- wipe from front to back after urinating, if you’re a female
- don’t use douches or feminine hygiene sprays, if you’re a female
- use sanitary pads instead of tampons, if you’re a female who menstruates
- avoid using a diaphragm or spermicide and change to an alternate form of birth control
- use nonspermicidal lubricated condoms, if you’re a male
- urinate before and after sexual activity
Your doctor may recommend prophylactic treatment if you’ve been experiencing recurrent bladder infections. This consists of taking antibiotics in small daily doses to prevent or control future bladder infections.
Outlook for bladder infections
Most bladder infections, including recurring infections, aren’t serious enough to impact your overall health. Numerous researchers are also working on a vaccine that will protect against bladder infections. Until then, home remedies and medication can help you feel better.