About bladder infections
- A bladder infection, the most common type of 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 treated with a combination of medical treatments and home remedies. Antibiotics and pain relievers are commonly used for bladder infections. Some helpful alternative treatments include drinking more water, urinating frequently, and applying heat.
- Taking caring of your health and making certain lifestyle changes may help prevent future bladder infections.
Bladder infections are the most common type of urinary tract infections. They can develop when bacteria enter the urethra and travel 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 the sudden urge to urinate. It may also cause pain while urinating and abdominal cramping. A combination of medical and home treatments may ease these symptoms. If left untreated, bladder infections can become life-threatening if the infection spreads to the kidney or blood.
Here are seven effective bladder infection remedies:
1. Drink more water
Why it helps: Water flushes out the bacteria in your bladder. This helps to get rid of the infection faster. It also dilutes your urine, so urination may be less painful.
Urine is made of waste products from your body. Concentrated, dark urine may be more irritating and painful to pass when you have a bladder infection. Diluted urine is lighter in color and usually doesn’t irritate as much.
- Drink at least eight glasses of water per day. You should limit caffeinated drinks, including coffee, tea, and soda. Caffeine can irritate your bladder even more when you don’t have an infection.
2. Frequent urination
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 time for the bacteria to continue multiplying in the bladder.
It may also be helpful to urinate after having sex. Sexual activity can push bacteria deeper into the urethra in both men and women. Urinating after sex may help flush bacteria away from your urinary tract. This prevents 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. If you have a urinary tract infection, you usually need medication to get rid of the organism causing the infection. Infectious disease experts recommend treating urinary tract infections with antibiotics.
If you have symptoms of a urinary tract infection, see your doctor. Sexually transmitted infections, vaginal infections, and certain vaginal conditions can mimic symptoms of a urinary tract infection. So it’s essential to get the right treatment for your condition.
- Call your doctor if your symptoms last longer than two days or are becoming worse. You will likely need antibiotics to treat your bladder infection.
- If you are older, pregnant, or have other serious health conditions, like diabetes, call your doctor right away.
- The length of treatment might vary, depending on the drug your doctor prescribes and your overall health. It’s important to take your medication for the full course, even if you feel better before it’s done. Taking the full dose with make sure all the harmful bacteria are out your system.
4. Pain relievers
Why they help: Severe bladder infections can cause pain in the pelvic region even when you’re not urinating. Antibiotics will treat the infection. But it may take a day or two before the drugs start to help. Taking pain medications may relieve abdominal cramps, back pain, or discomfort you may feel.
5. Heating pads
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 when used together with your medications.
6. Appropriate dress
Why it helps: Bacteria thrive in warm and moist environments. For women, tight jeans and other tight clothes can trap moisture in delicate areas. This creates a breeding ground for vaginal bacteria. Wearing loose cotton clothing that allows your skin to breathe may help to keep the bacteria away from around your urinary tract tissues.
- Wear cotton underwear, loose pants, or skirts to promote air circulation and reduce bacteria growth.
7. Cranberry juice
Why it helps: Cranberry has been used as a natural treatment for preventing bladder infections for generations. According to recent research, cranberry juice and cranberry tablets show some promise as a remedy for women who frequently get bladder infections. But it’s not clear whether cranberry juice really works for preventing bladder infections in the larger population.
- Talk to your doctor about cranberry juice as a way to prevent bladder infections.
Finding a doctor for bladder infection
Seeing a primary care doctor is still your best bet if you have symptoms of a urinary tract infection. 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 the occurrence of bladder infections:
- Drink six to eight glasses of water per day.
- Urinate as soon as you feel the need.
- Take showers instead of baths.
- Wear cotton underwear.
- Change your underwear daily.
- Urinate before and after sexual activity.
- Avoid using a diaphragm or spermicide and change to an alternate form of birth control.
- Men: Use nonspermicidal lubricated condoms.
- Women: Wipe from front to back after urinating.
- Women: Don’t use douches or feminine hygiene sprays.
Your doctor may recommend preventative treatment if you’ve been experiencing recurrent bladder infections. This can consist of taking antibiotics in small daily doses to prevent or control future bladder infections.
Diet, along with the acidity of the urine, may also impact how individuals are affected by these infections. Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found that those whose intestinal tract produced certain substances, called aromatics, had less bacterial activity in their urine. The production of these substances seems to be related to the types of healthy bacteria people carry in their intestinal tract. Also, urine that was low in acid had fewer bacteria, so medications that can make the urine less acidic may have a role in preventing these infections.
Outlook for bladder infections
Bladder infections, including recurring infections, require medical attention. When treated promptly and effectively, the risk of serious complications is low. Numerous researchers are also working on vaccines to protect against the most common types of bacteria that cause bladder infections. Until then, home remedies combined with medications are important steps to feeling better.