Women are naturally more prone to bladder problems such as bladder infections and urinary incontinence when compared to men for several reasons. The urethra, which is the passageway for urine from the bladder to the outside is short—less than 2 centimeters. This means that bacteria from the stool have a greater likelihood of travelling up the urethra and causing a bladder infection.
In addition, hormones and the female anatomy can cause the bladder to sag, causing leakage of urine during coughing, straining or sneezing; it also means that women have a greater chance of developing urinary urgency, which is the need to urinate urgently and without warning.
Rather than fight bladder infections with antibiotics, try practicing good urinary tract health by following the recommendations listed below. Antibiotics may take care of an infection but they have side effects and tend also to mess up your gastrointestinal flora, which can lead to diarrhea, constipation, or nutrient deficiencies.
You can fight off bladder infections and have better urinary tract health using these simple tips:
• Drink plenty of water. Even if it burns, it is important to drink as much water as you can. Drinking at least 10-12 8-ounce glasses of water each day will flush out your bladder and urethra, taking any offending bacteria with it. When the bacterial count in the urine is lower, your immune system can better handle the load, and you will fight off the remaining bacteria with less difficulty. While you can drink other beverages besides water, water is truly the best source of fluid for an ailing bladder. Some liquids, such as those containing caffeine, can be irritating to the bladder and should be avoided. Another rule of thumb for drinking water is to drink about half your body weight (in pounds) in ounces of water. This means that a 140-pound woman should drink 70 ounces of water a day (at a minimum).
• Try Cranberry Products. Purchase cranberry juice to drink as part of your fluid intake. Cranberry juice is naturally acidic and will acidify your urine. Bacteria don’t grow well in an acidic environment so you can expect a further reduction in bacterial content in the urine and can actually get rid of bladder infections that have already occurred. It is also a great preventative for bladder infections and is especially useful for women who get bladder infections easily. You can also purchase cranberry supplements from your local pharmacy or health food store. Try to drink up to 16-32 ounces of cranberry juice or take about 400 milligrams of cranberry extract supplement per day. This will not only treat a bladder infection in many cases but will prevent them from coming back. Make sure you select unsweetened cranberry juice because you don’t need the unnecessary calories.
• Take vitamin C. Vitamin C, like cranberry juice can acidify your urine so that bacteria cannot grow. Take a vitamin C supplement every day in order to prevent bladder infections from occurring.
• Change your bacterial flora. The bacteria in your gut can be “good bacteria” or “bad bacteria” that will cause more bladder infections. This involves taking a probiotic supplement that can shift the balance of bacteria to “good bacteria”; bladder infections can be stopped from occurring. Probiotics also come from eating yogurt and these are good things to take, especially when you have been taking antibiotics for bladder infections.
• Use local heat. Apply a heating pad, set to low, to your pelvic area. This will soothe the bladder and calm spasms and inflammation in the bladder. Limit your use of local heat to about 15 minutes at a time.
• Try baking soda. Baking soda can sooth the burning of a urinary tract infection. Put a half teaspoon of the powdery substance in a glass of water and drink it. It will taste a little salty but will shortly ease the burning pain you are experiencing.
• Eliminate bladder irritants. Some foods and liquids contain irritants that inflame the bladder. These include anything with carbonation, spicy foods, and nicotine from cigarettes, alcohol, caffeinated beverages, and food containing artificial sweeteners. Stick to natural foods that are high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grain products.
• Herbal remedies. If you are trying to prevent or treat bladder infections, you can try several herbal remedies that are known to have anti-inflammatory properties or can fight off bacteria. These include urva ursi (for inflammation) and herbs like Oregon grape root or goldenseal, which fight the E. coli bacteria species that is a common cause of bladder infections.
You don’t have to try all these remedies in order to fight bladder infections. Keep trying a remedy until you find one that works for you. Note that it is critical to seek medical care when you suspect that you have a UTI.