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A few home remedies may help ward off UTIs. These can include staying hydrated and trying various supplements, such as cranberry supplements or probiotics.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are very common. A 2022 analysis found that more than 404.6 million people worldwide had UTIs in 2019.

UTIs happen when bacteria from the skin or rectum enter the urethra. You can get an infection along any part of the urinary tract, but bladder infections are the most common.

Though UTIs can affect anyone, people assigned female at birth are more prone to them. That’s because the female urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the bladder, is shorter than the male urethra.

The shorter distance makes it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder. The proximity of the urethra to the vagina and rectum, which are sources of bacteria, also plays a role.

Other risk factors for UTIs include:

  • history of UTIs
  • sexual activity
  • poor hygiene
  • age, with children and older adults more prone to UTIs
  • pregnancy
  • changes to vaginal bacteria, which spermicides and menopause can cause
  • structural problems in the urinary tract, such as an enlarged prostate
  • a catheter in place
  • some medical conditions, such as diabetes

UTI symptoms

Common UTI symptoms include:

  • a burning sensation when peeing
  • frequent urination
  • cloudy or dark urine
  • urine with a strong odor
  • a feeling of incomplete bladder emptying
  • pelvic pain
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Bacteria cause almost 95% of UTIs, but fungi can also cause infection.

Though antibiotics typically treat UTIs, several natural ways exist to help manage infections and reduce the risk of recurrence.

This article reviews six home remedies you can use to treat UTIs.

Dehydration is linked to an increased risk of UTIs.

Regular urination can help flush bacteria from the urinary tract to prevent infection. When dehydrated, you aren’t urinating as often, which can create a breeding ground for bacteria.

A 2019 study examined nursing home residents and administered a drinking schedule to participants to increase their fluid intake. Following the hydration schedule, UTIs requiring antibiotics decreased by 58%.

In a 2020 randomized control trial, 140 premenopausal participants prone to UTIs took part in a 12-month study to test if a higher fluid intake would decrease their risk of recurrent cystitis and, in turn, their risk of developing a UTI. Researchers found that an increase in fluid intake led to a decrease in UTI frequency.

To stay hydrated and meet your fluid needs, it’s best to drink water throughout the day and always when you’re thirsty.

Benefits of drinking more fluids for UTI

Drinking plenty of liquids can decrease your risk of UTIs by making you pee more, which helps remove bacteria from your urinary tract.

Some evidence suggests that increasing your vitamin C intake could protect against UTIs.

Vitamin C is thought to work by increasing the acidity of urine, killing off the bacteria that cause infection.

A small 2020 randomized placebo study involving 19 people who had undergone a kidney transplant found that the amount of bacteria in urine was significantly lower in people who received the intravenous vitamin C group than the placebo group.

A 2016 study with 42 participants showed that combining vitamin C with two other popular natural UTI remedies — cranberries and the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus — could effectively treat recurrent UTIs.

Despite these studies, more research is needed to prove vitamin C’s effectiveness in reducing UTI risk. Plus, there are conflicting views on whether vitamin C can really change the acidity of your urine enough to kill off bacteria.

If you need help getting enough vitamin C, you can try products like:

  • vitamin C gummies
  • sprays
  • oral tablets

However, it’s still recommended to eat foods rich in vitamin C. Fruits and vegetables are especially high in vitamin C and are a good way to increase your intake. Red peppers, oranges, grapefruit, and kiwifruit all contain the full recommended daily amount of vitamin C in just one serving.

Finally, keep in mind that if you’re already meeting your vitamin C needs through diet alone, it’s unclear whether taking additional vitamin C through supplements is beneficial.

Benefits of vitamin C for UTI

Increasing vitamin C intake may decrease your risk of UTIs by making your urine more acidic, thus killing infection-causing bacteria.

Drinking unsweetened cranberry juice is one of the most well-known natural remedies for UTIs. If drinking unsweetened cranberry juice isn’t your thing, you can take it in capsule form.

Some experts believe cranberries have properties that might prevent bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract, which helps with UTI prevention.

In a study published in 2022, participants with a history of recurring uncomplicated UTIs reported a reduction in infections after taking a cranberry supplement for 6 months prior.

Additionally, a 2021 review of 23 studies found that cranberry supplements (including juices, tablets, and capsules) significantly reduced the likelihood of UTIs.

However, researchers noted there were several limitations of the studies reviewed. They recommend larger, higher-quality studies to confirm the potential role of cranberry supplements in preventing UTIs.

Also, remember that while some research supports the use of cranberry supplements in the prevention of UTIs, whether they actually work as a treatment for an active UTI is less cut and dry.

Finally, it’s worth noting any possible benefits of this home remedy only apply to unsweetened cranberry juice (or cranberry capsules) rather than sweetened juice varieties. Cranberry juice with added sugars won’t help treat an active UTI.

Benefits of cranberries for UTI

Some studies suggest that cranberries could help reduce your risk of UTIs by preventing bacteria from adhering to your urinary tract.

Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that are consumed through food or supplements. They can promote a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut.

Probiotics are available in supplement form or can be found in fermented foods, such as:

  • kefir
  • kimchi
  • kombucha
  • probiotic yogurt

Consuming probiotics has been linked to many things, from improved digestive health to enhanced immune function.

Some studies have shown that certain probiotics may reduce the risk of UTIs. These studies have involved the use of oral and vaginally administered probiotics as well as different probiotic strains.

Antibiotics, the main line of defense against UTIs, can cause disturbances in levels of gut bacteria. Probiotics may be beneficial in restoring gut bacteria after antibiotic treatment.

Studies have shown that probiotics can increase levels of good gut bacteria and reduce side effects associated with antibiotic use.

Still, keep in mind that probiotics may not be appropriate for everyone. You can talk with a healthcare professional about whether probiotics are right for you and which strains to take.

Benefits of probiotics for UTI

Probiotics could help prevent UTIs and are beneficial for restoring gut bacteria after antibiotic treatment.

Preventing UTIs starts with practicing a few good bathroom and hygiene habits.

First, it’s important not to hold your urine for too long. This can lead to a buildup of bacteria, resulting in infection.

Peeing after sex has long been linked to a reduced risk of UTIs by preventing the spread of bacteria and is recommended by health authorities, including Planned Parenthood.

Additionally, those who are prone to UTIs should avoid using spermicide, as it has been linked to an increase in UTIs.

Finally, when using the toilet — especially if you have a female urethra — make sure you wipe front to back. Wiping from back to front can cause bacteria to spread to the urinary tract and is associated with an increased risk of UTIs.

One way to stop or prevent any bacteria from spreading amongst genitalia is by using Always Feminine Wipes.

Benefits of healthy hygiene for UTI

Urinating frequently and after sexual intercourse can reduce the risk of UTI. Careful wiping when you use the toilet may also help decrease the risk of UTI.

Research shows garlic and garlic extract to have antimicrobial properties, so they may be able to block the growth of bacteria to prevent UTIs.

While not many studies have specialized in the effects of garlic in treating UTIs, one older 2014 study found that the combination of garlic oil and parsley in pills could synergistically affect bacterial growth and proliferation.

A 2022 study found that rats with an induced UTI caused by E. coli bacteria significantly improved their infection when given garlic.

While cooking garlic alters its properties and may decrease its health benefits, most people can safely consume raw garlic as part of a healthy diet. However, people with GERD, people who take blood thinners, and those with an irritable digestive tract might want to avoid eating garlic in its uncooked form.

If you don’t like or can’t eat raw garlic but are interested in seeing if it could help ward off your next UTI, you might consider a garlic supplement.

Benefits of garlic for UTI

Garlic hasn’t been strongly linked to treating or preventing UTIs, but it does have documented antimicrobial and immune-supporting properties.

Consuming raw garlic or taking garlic supplements could have the added benefit of targeting certain bacterial strains that may be causing your UTIs to keep coming back.

D-mannose is a type of sugar that is found in cranberries and other fruits. Similar to other home remedies on our list, it may be able to prevent harmful bacteria from adhering to your urinary tract.

Some studies suggest it’s effective in treating UTIs and preventing recurrence. At least three studies have shown that D-mannose is effective as a UTI deterrent and as a treatment for an active UTI.

Research into how well D-mannose works to help people with recurrent UTIs is still early, but the results so far have been promising.

You can add D-mannose to your diet by upping your intake of:

  • blueberries
  • cranberries
  • apples
  • peaches
  • oranges
  • broccoli
  • green beans

You can also consider adding a D-mannose supplement to your regimen.

UTI supplement options

Read our full review of Uqora, a company that develops natural UTI prevention supplements.

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Here are some ways you can manage UTI symptoms that may also help prevent a recurrence:

  • Stay well hydrated.
  • Avoid or limit foods and drinks irritating the bladder, such as coffee and soft drinks.
  • Avoid holding in your pee for too long.
  • Apply a heating pad or hot water bottle to minimize bladder discomfort.
  • Ask your doctor about prescription or OTC pain medication.
  • Take all your antibiotics as prescribed by your healthcare professional.

It’s important to talk with a doctor if you have symptoms of a UTI. While natural remedies may help, a healthcare professional can diagnose a UTI and prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection.

Left untreated, UTIs risk severe complications, including spreading to your kidneys. Don’t ignore the symptoms of a severe infection.

Get in touch with a healthcare professional if you experience any of the following:

  • a fever over 103°F (39.4°C)
  • shaking
  • chills
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • blood in your urine

In about 20% of cases, UTIs resolve without treatment.

If you keep yourself well-hydrated, your UTI infection might resolve on its own. That said, this isn’t true in all cases. Your UTI treatment will vary according to the cause of the infection.

Some UTIs, especially chronic and recurring ones, need antibiotic treatment instead of simple home remedies. This means you will need to see a doctor for treatment.

If you’re prescribed antibiotics to treat a UTI, a healthcare professional may choose an antibiotic specific to the type of bacteria causing your infection.

Fast relief of a UTI might not be possible. Over-the-counter (OTC) products like AZO contain active antibacterial ingredients. In the case of AZO, the active ingredient is a compound called methenamine. In combination with an anti-inflammatory compound, these products are meant to help your body kill harmful bacteria.

That said, the active ingredients in OTC products might not be enough for powerful bacterial infections. Also, most of these products are advertised as a protection against UTIs, not necessarily a treatment for current, active infections. You would need to see a doctor for proper treatment to get the right medication.

Sometimes, you can get rid of a UTI naturally by:

  • resting
  • drinking lots of water
  • taking dietary supplements
  • giving the infection time to heal

UTIs can sometimes resolve naturally without the use of antibiotics.

However, there are some situations where “wait and see” just isn’t an acceptable approach. Untreated UTIs can cause potentially life threatening complications, including sepsis.

UTIs typically clear up within 7-10 days of starting treatment. You should notice a gradual improvement in your pain and other symptoms.

You can talk with a doctor if you don’t notice improvement within this time frame or your symptoms worsen.

UTIs are a common and frustrating problem, particularly if they keep recurring.

Home remedies and OTC products can help prevent UTIs but can’t always eliminate the bacteria causing your infection. If you’re trying home remedies but still have symptoms, you can talk with a healthcare professional to avoid complications.

Staying hydrated, practicing health-promoting habits, and supplementing your diet with some UTI-fighting ingredients are good ways to lower your risk of these infections in the future.

Read this article in Spanish.