A bladder infection and a UTI occur when bacteria invade the urinary system. This can be quite painful and result in frequent urination (sometimes every few minutes). Women are most susceptible to bladder infections, although men experience them more frequently as they age due to prostate enlargement.
This article looks at the causes and symptoms of these infections, and how to use herbs and other natural remedies to treat them.
Bladder infections, UTIs, cystitis or inflammation of the bladder all can be caused by a bacterial infection in the urinary tract. Some people develop this once or twice in their life while others are prone to recurring infections. E coli is a common bacterial culprit that is often what causes urinary tract infections.
Urinary tract infections symptoms often include:
Some people only have one or two symptoms of urinary tract infection while others may have many or none at all.
Antibiotics are the standard treatment for a UTI. In women, antibiotics may increase the risk of vaginal yeast infections. I’ve often heard women joke that they ask for the anti-fungal prescription along with the antibiotics since they’ve “been down that road before.” As more bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, a doctor may test for the particular type of bacterial infection and then prescribe antibiotics specific to that type of bacteria.
Most bladder infections can be treated easily. However, if left untreated they can develop into a kidney infection which is a very serious medical condition. Symptoms of a kidney infection include fever and low back pain. If you have symptoms of a kidney infection see your doctor or visit the ER as soon as possible.
Women who occasionally get bladder infections can easily and safely address these infections at home using herbs and supplements (see below).
For women with recurring bladder infections they will need to address the underlying cause of the infections such as proper hygiene, urinating immediately following sexual intercourse and normalizing blood sugar levels.
Men younger than 50 who have a bladder infection should see a doctor to determine the cause (since it is so rare). Men over 50 with recurring bladder infections most likely need to address their prostate health while also dealing with the acute infection.
Both men and women who experience frequent bladder infections should get tested for STDs.
An uncomplicated UTI can easily be addressed with a formula of herbs. It is important that the herbs address the infection as well as the associated pain and discomfort. Herbs can stop the urinary tract infections symptoms and get to the root cause of the problem as well.
What causes urinary tract infections? Most often a UTI is caused by a bacterial infection. Anti-microbial herbs can kill the bacteria, thus stopping the infection.
Soothing and cooling to the mucus membranes, these herbs can relieve a lot of the burning and pain that you feel during acute infections. (Painful urination is sometimes called dysuria.)
These herbs directly stimulate your immune system through various mechanisms to ward off the invading pathogens.
These herbs can quickly resolve pain and discomfort of a UTI. (Sometimes referred to as dysuria.)
These herbs help to flush urine through the bladder and urethra to literally wash out the bacteria.
Astringent herbs tighten and tone the mucosal membranes. This action can strengthen urinary tissues and make them less susceptible to invading pathogens.
Proper hygiene: women can wipe from front to back after urinating to avoid spreading bacteria to the opening of the urethra. Also urinating immediately after sex can decrease the risk for UTIs.
A recurring urinary tract infection can be due to a variety of factors, including improper hygiene, not urinating immediately after having sex, STDs, dehydration and imbalanced blood sugar. If high blood sugar is to blame then eating a low sugar and low carb diet may help to reduce the instances of UTIs. Carbs and sugar should also be avoided during an active UTI.
Dehydration can lead to frequent UTIs.
UTIs commonly affect women and some men who also have prostate swelling. Most of these infections can be easily dealt with using herbs, although, if left unresolved, UTIs can develop into a kidney infection which is very serious and requires immediate medical attention.
For more information, see my articles on 7 Simple Steps to maintain a healthy urinary system, and the urinary system anatomy.
Rosalee is an herbalist and author of the bestselling book Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients Into Foods & Remedies That Heal and co-author of the bestselling book Wild Remedies: How to Forage Healing Foods and Craft Your Own Herbal Medicine. She's a registered herbalist with the American Herbalist Guild and the Education Director for LearningHerbs. Read about how Rosalee went from having a terminal illness to being a bestselling author in her full story here.