Treating your own urinary tract infection at home requires an understanding of what the problem is. Most UTIs are caused by E. coli, but that leaves 10-20 per cent that are not caused by this bacteria, which means that some treatments will work better than others, depending on the type of infection you have.
Different microbes create and prefer different environments based on how they breathe and eat. E. coli, for example, will make your urine more alkaline, because it uses your urinary acids (uric acid) to do its thing. This takes uric acid out of your urinary tract, resulting in more alkaline urine.
It can be really useful to do a urinary pH test to see which microbes you may have lurking. It’s useful to know if it’s E. coli or possibly something else, though a pH test is not definitive by any means. It just gives you a hint. It also matters if you are going to be using herbal medicine, since some herbs work in alkaline urine while others work better in acidic urine.
Understanding biofilms in recurrent UTIs
If you get frequent UTIs, you need to understand biofilms and set yourself up to do a biofilm busting treatment. We are working on the book and treatment program for UTIs currently, but you can use the Killing BV biofilm busting treatment program, but skip the vaginal treatments and use the oral biofilm treatments.
You can do the biofilm treatments when you do not have a UTI, but expect the possibility of a lightweight transient infection as the biofilms are shed, and the live bacteria are released into your system for their last hurrah. Have some of our other treatments at the ready, or use them at the same time (UTI Teas, cranberry, etc.) depending on what normally works for you. With the biofilms gone, the bacteria can’t hide and will be excreted in your urine.
If you do not experience frequent UTIs, you don’t need to do this biofilm treatment.
Safety treating UTIs at home
While we think that you can treat many UTIs at home, if at any stage you have severe pain, bleeding, fever, kidney pain, or other intolerable symptoms, you must go to the doctor or hospital to be treated immediately with antibiotics. You can cause real damage to the organs that keep you alive by letting them suffer with an infection too long.
If your immune system isn’t up to scratch (i.e. if your body needs a push to get better), you need to be taking the more hardcore route, then working on your immunity and urinary tract when you don’t have an infection, as a preventative. Damaging your urinary system is a recipe for more and more infections, because scar tissue provides a better home for bad germs to fester. Got it?
Safety lecture over, let’s get started.
First you have to make sure you have a urinary tract infection
- The signs are pretty clear: burning, stinging pain when you urinate.
- Feeling like you need to go, and then you go, and nothing much comes out.
- Another sign of infection is cloudy urine. White blood cells are what your body uses to fight infections, so cloudy urine means there is increased immune-system action in your urinary tract.
Worse versions of a classic uncomplicated UTI are lower abdominal pain, dark, strong-smelling urine, fever, and progression to the kidneys which you’ll definitely feel. Unless you really know what you’re doing, see your doctor about these symptoms because it can get real serious real quick.
If you are not used to UTIs, see your doctor to make sure that’s what it is. If you are used to UTIs and know exactly what’s happening, continue!
What else could I have?
You need to rule out chlamydia, gonorrhoea or trichomonas, or Mycoplasma genitalium so make sure you get tested if your UTI doesn’t resolve completely after your treatment. These sexually transmitted infections can cause the same symptoms.
You could also have what’s known as non-specific urethritis, which feels like a UTI, but is actually an irritation typically caused by printed toilet paper, laundry detergent, etc – something you are reacting to, not an infection. If you get tested, there will be no infection. Check the things that are touching your vagina, change them to hypoallergenic, and see what happens. You should notice a change as soon as the irritation is removed.
How do I make a UTI go away?
1. Keep your system flushed
Interestingly, UTI bacteria actually clings on harder when you try to wash it away, so ‘washing away the bacteria’ really isn’t a thing. In fact, it makes them stronger. That’s why we have to keep the system flushed with liquid and use other strategies. Water by itself won’t help. It will start to help in that sense once the bacteria are either forced to unlatch from your poor urethra, or are killed. But really, it just eases the burn while we do our other strategies. Keep drinking.
2. Do urinary alkalisers work?
They work a bit to take the sting out of the uric acid in your urine hitting the raw, inflamed walls of your urethra. Unfortunately, they do not eliminate your problem and in fact might make it worse by making the area uninhabitable by the good bacteria that normally live in there. We discuss urinary alkalisers here, including a simple recipe using bicarb if you must. No need to spend money on urinary alkalisers!
Cranberry does not mean the drink you buy at the supermarket. It means a no-added-sugar, pure form of the juice. Remember that germs love sugar, so sweetened cranberry juice has no hope of getting rid of any germs, and will probably just make things worse. The best way to take cranberry is to take high-dose tablets, and lots of of them. Read about cranberry for UTIs.
There are a handful of other herbs used to treat UTIs, including goldenrod and bearberry. They might be a better option than cranberry, or another herb used in conjunction.
You need more good germs to fight off the bad germs, so take a high-quality probiotic supplement, particularly if you take antibiotics, or have taken them in the past year, or if you have a long history of lots of antibiotics. Make sure it is a women’s probiotic. You can apply the probiotics around your vulva and take them internally – they go through your system (not your urinary system, but they end up in the vagina and urethra).
If you can get your hands on some of this from a health food store, get it! The bacteria like it, so attach themselves to it, and then they get urinated out. Read about D-Mannose here.
You can do the bladder and ureters points on your feet (and possibly kidneys) to get rid of a urinary tract infection at home. This actually works, weirdly enough, but you need to be firm, persistent, and cover all the relevant areas. Solve your own UTI at home with reflexology.
Next, you need to figure out how to stop this happening. Check out all the UTI research articles, and add 100mg of vitamin C to your diet every day. This has been shown to have a bacteriostatic effect and was much more effective at preventing recurrent UTIs than doing nothing at all.
Vitamin C doesn’t make your urine more acidic, but actually stops it from being so alkaline (thus making it appear to become more acidic) because bacteria in the urinary tract actually force the urine to become more alkaline. This process involves nitrates-reducing bacteria. You remove their source of nitrate and you kill them. If you give vitamin C to a person without a UTI, their urinary pH doesn’t change.
This is interesting because there aren’t really that many ways to adjust your urinary pH – your body does that via your kidneys. Vitamin C is ascorbic acid, but citric acid – from, say, orange juice – is actually a slight urinary alkaliser. So just drinking orange juice won’t work as well! Pure ascorbic acid, vitamin C. (And don’t eat too much – more than two grams and you risk diarrhoea, since vitamin C draws water to the bowel.)