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How to treat a UTI at home?

Medically reviewed by Melisa Puckey, BPharm. Last updated on Nov 2, 2021.

Official answer

by Drugs.com
  • A urinary tract infection (UTI) is usually treated with antibiotics as soon as possible to prevent the infection progressing to something more serious like a kidney infection or sepsis.
  • If for some reason it is not practicable to get antibiotic treatment or there is a delay accessing healthcare, there are some self care measures that may be useful.

UTI self care measures:

  • Drink lots of water, this will help flush out the infection and dilute your urine.
  • Avoid fluids that may irritate the bladder including coffee, alcohol, and citrus juices.
  • Use a hot water bottle or heating pad on your abdomen to help relieve discomfort.
  • You can take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help with any pain.


Cranberry

  • Cranberries have been used for over a hundred years for UTI.
  • Many studies on treating or preventing UTI with cranberries juice, tablets, capsules, syrup and fruit powder have been completed but results between studies have been conflicting with some having positive effects and others showing no effect at all.
  • Cranberries are thought to help UTI's as they contain proanthocyanidins and fructose, both are thought to stop the bacteria being able to attach to cells within the urinary system.
  • Cranberry products do have a drug interaction with warfarin so should be avoided if you are on this medication.

D-mannose

  • D-Mannose is a type of glucose that has been promoted for helping to prevent and treat urinary infections.
  • It is thought to work by stopping bacteria being able to bind to the urinary system cells.
  • There have been a number of small and uncontrolled clinical trials testing the effectiveness of D-Mannose on UTI's with some positive results, but the evidence is still not strong enough to confirm if it is an effective treatment, and more well-powered, randomized, placebo-controlled trials are needed.
  • D-mannose is well tolerated within the studies and very few patients stopped taking it.

Lactobacilli Probiotics

  • Lactobacillus is a helpful bacteria that is part of the balanced normal bacterial flora in the vagina and around the urethral area. It helps prevent infections, by stopping other harmful bacteria like E. coli becoming established in the area, which then might travel up the urethra and cause a UTI.
  • Lactobacillus makes a substance that slows the growth of harmful bacteria, stops them being able to stick to the cell walls and reduces inflammation.
  • Lactobacillus can be added into the diet by eating yoghurt, or taken as a tablet or capsule, or can be used vaginally.
  • The studies using Lactobacillus for UTI have mixed results, so it is inconclusive whether taking this will help your UTI or not.


What is a Urinary tract infection?

  • A urinary tract infection is any infection that affects the urinary tract, which includes the urethra, bladder, ureters and kidney.
  • Urethritis is an infection of the urethra (the tube that takes the urine from the bladder to outside your body).
  • Cystitis is an infection of your bladder.
  • Lower urinary tract infection involves the bladder and urethra.
  • Pyelonephritis is when kidneys become infected.
  • Pyelonephritis symptoms include abdominal or back pain, feeling sick or vomiting, a high fever or chills, or cloudy or bloody urine which need urgent medical attention.

To help prevent urinary tract infections:

  • Make sure you are drinking enough water.
  • Don’t “hold on” for too long, make sure you go to the toilet when you need to.
  • If you find sex causes UTI, then urinate after sex to flush out any bacteria.
  • Using spermicides and spermicide condoms increase your risk of UTI.


Unsure if you have a urinary tract infection? Click here “How do you know if you have a bladder infection?”

Bottom Line:

  • Urine infections are usually treated with antibiotics to prevent progression to more serious conditions of kidney infections or sepsis.
  • To treat a UTI at home, drink lots of water, avoid fluids that may irritate the bladder, use a hot water bottle or heating pad on your abdomen to help relieve discomfort and take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help with any pain.
  • Lower UTI can progress to kidney infection or sepsis so it important to treat a UTI with antibiotics if possible or seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or do not improve.
References
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI) https://www.drugs.com/mcd/urinary-tract-infection-uti
  • NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) UTI (lower): antimicrobial prescribing: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng109/resources/visual-summary-pdf-6544021069
  • Non Antibiotic prevention and Management of Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41585-018-0106-x
  • A pragmatic guide to asymptomatic bacteriuria and testing for urinary tract infections (UTIs) in people aged over 65 years https://bpac.org.nz/BT/2015/July/guide.aspx
  • Considerations on D-mannose Mechanism of Action and Consequent Classification of Marketed Healthcare Products: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7982833/
  • d-Mannose Treatment neither Affects Uropathogenic Escherichia coli Properties nor Induces Stable FimH Modifications https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7024335/
  • Preventing urinary tract infections after menopause without antibiotics https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28364867/
  • Urinary tract infection - causes, symptoms, treatment https://www.southerncross.co.nz/group/medical-library/urinary-tract-infections-symptoms-treatment-prevention

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