Millions of women will suffer from a bladder infection—also know as a urinary tract infection or cystitis—in their lifetime, and many will suffer from repeat infections. Although men can get urinary tract infections as well, 90 percent of those affected are women. Blame it on anatomy; the urethra, the tube which transports urine and connects the bladder to the outside world, is shorter in women than it is in men and is also located in close proximity to both the vagina and anus, making it easy for bacteria to enter the urethra and infect the bladder.
Cystitis symptoms are no walk in the park. When the bladder is infected, its lining becomes inflamed, creating the feeling of an urgent need to pee all the time. Urination is accompanied by pain and burning, and often the bladder doesn’t completely empty, leaving the person again with the constant need to pee.
E. coli bacteria are the most common cause of bladder infections, and they can get there through a number of circumstances. Being sexually active can increase the risk of contracting a bladder infection as bacteria from the vagina can be massaged into the urethra during intercourse. Certain forms of birth control can also increase risk. If not fitted properly, diaphragms can put pressure on and bruise the bladder, increasing its chances of infection; the chemicals in spermicidal forms birth control can also upset the levels of good bacteria in the vagina and urethra. Menopause puts women at a higher risk as well; decreased estrogen levels can change the urinary tract during menopause, leaving it vulnerable to infection.
Cranberries prevent bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall and starting an infection. Photo By sweetbeetandgreenbean/Courtesy Flickr.
Antibiotics are also a leading cause of urinary tract infections, especially repeat infections. Most women with a bladder infection will be prescribed antibiotics as treatment, but because antibiotics kill off all bacteria in the body, both good and bad, they inhibit the body’s natural means of staving off infection. Bypass the antibiotics and treat your bladder infection naturally with these seven natural home remedies.
Cranberry juice: This well-known home remedy for bladder infections has earned its stripes. Studies have shown that cranberry juice prevents bacteria from latching onto bladder walls and starting an infection. Drink at least one glass daily to prevent a bladder infection, or several glasses a day if you already have an infection.
Water: It’s essential to drink as much water as you can when suffering from a bladder infection. The more water you drink, the more you’ll have to pee, and the faster your body can flush the bacteria out of your system.
Vitamin C acidifies urine and inhibits the growth of bacteria in much the same way as cranberry juice. Vitamin C can also enhance immune function to help fight off an existing infection. Take 1,000 mg four to five times daily.
Baking soda can neutralize acidic urine and help ease the burning sensation associated with bladder infections. Mix ½ teaspoon baking soda into a glass of water and drink.
Garlic and oregano oil both have strong antibacterial and antiviral properties that make it beneficial when fighting an infection. Garlic has more medicinal properties when eaten raw. Take 500 mg of oregano oil four to five times daily.
Probiotics: If you’re already taking antibiotics for your bladder infection, supplement your diet with probiotic-rich foods (or capsules). These friendly bacteria can prevent harmful bacteria from growing and can reduce your chances of a repeat infection.
• Don’t hold it! If you gotta go, you gotta go. Holding urine in can back up bacteria in your system.
• Wipe front to back so as not to smear bacteria into the urethra.
• Avoid coffee, tea, alcohol, soft drinks and other beverages that may contain citrus juices and caffeine, which can irritate your bladder and increase the need to pee.