Urinary tract infection, (UTI) is an infection in any part of the urinary tract, including the urethra, bladder, kidneys and ureters. Some people experience persistent UTIs, which prompts them to look for alternatives to antibiotic medications. There is yet no research conducted to back up the many home remedies which promises to get rid of urinary tract infections. So, is it factual that baking soda, also called sodium bicarbonate, can help to treat these conditions?
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Drinking a small amount of baking soda mixed with water is a home remedy that some people have tried for UTIs. This method may or not be safe for people since there is no medical evidence to support it.
Taking baking soda for a UTI
Baking soda is said to counteract the acid in the urine, which supposedly reduces symptoms of a UTI and allows the body to fight the bacteria causing the infection. People who use this therapy claims baking soda can stop the infection from spreading to the kidneys.
How Safe is taking Baking Soda for UTI?
When taken wrongly, baking soda can be very harmful to the body. Also, research does not support the use of baking soda as an effective treatment for UTIs. The California Poison Control System reported on 192 cases of baking soda misuse, and some of these cases were related to people who were trying to treat a UTI using baking soda.
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Also, the researchers warn that using baking soda as a home remedy may cause people to delay in getting prompt medical attention, which can lead to worsening symptoms and further complications. Some symptoms of baking soda overuse are; respiratory depression and electrolyte imbalances.
Complications linked to taking too much baking soda include:
- stomach pain
Other Home Remedies for UTIs
Some people like to try home remedies to treat UTIs, because of the growing concerns over antibiotic-resistant bacteria, plus worries about adverse reactions caused by antibiotics. Possible home remedies for UTIs include:
A person with a UTI should drink lots of water to help dilute the urine, making it less acidic, while also helping to flush bacteria out of the urinary tract. Several foods and drinks can irritate a sensitive bladder. People should avoid these foods if they have a UTI.
One known home remedy for treatment of UTIs is cranberry juice. Drinking cranberry juice lowers the acidity of urine. Though, several studies have tested cranberry juice for prevention of UTI. The results are inconclusive. However, some people find relief from their symptoms after drinking cranberry juice. Go for a sugar-free juice, and stop drinking it if it causes symptoms like stomach upset or diarrhea. People taking blood-thinning medications like warfarin, should avoid cranberry juice.
Essential oils may help to treat some types of bacterial infections. One study suggests that lemongrass oil can help get rid of several common pathogens, including Escherichia coli (E. coli), which is the bacteria responsible for most UTIs. Seek medical advice from your doctor before using essential oils to treat a UTI.
Warning: Essential oils should not be consumed. They must be inhaled through a diffuser, or applied to the skin in a diluted form, using a carrier oil.
Medical treatments for UTIs
The first-line treatment for a UTI is antibiotic medication. This can be used alongside home remedies to treat the symptoms or to cure the infection.
For a simple UTI, the following antibiotics may be prescribed by a doctor:
- Ceftriaxone (Rocephin)
- Cephalexin (Keflex)
- Fosfomycin (Monurol)
- Nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin, Macrobid)
- Sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim (Bactrim, Sulfatrim)
Symptoms should improve within a few days, and the infection clears up in a week or so.Frequent or complicated infections may require different types of treatment. Often, a doctor will suggest:
- low-dose antibiotics for 6 months or more
- single-dose antibiotics after sexual activity if infections are caused by intercourse
- vaginal estrogen therapy for postmenopausal women
Hospitalization and treatment with intravenous antibiotics are sometimes needed for severe UTIs. In all instances, people must finish all medication, as prescribed.
People who are prone to UTIs can take certain steps to prevent them from developing:
- avoid using vaginal douches, soaps and other feminine hygiene products in the genital area
- drink lots of water to remain hydrated
- take a shower instead of a bath
- consider changing birth controlmethods, because diaphragms and spermicide-treated condoms can cause bacterial growth
- avoid holding urine in the bladder for longer than necessary
- urinate before and after sexual intercourse
- wipe and wash well after intercourse and after using the toilet.
Complications of Untreated UTIs
If left untreated, UTIs can lead to the following:
- permanent damage of the kidney
- recurrent UTIs
- urethral narrowing or stricture in men
- risk of low birth weight or premature infants in pregnant women