Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common bacterial infections that can affect any part of the urinary system, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Women are at higher risk for UTIs than men due to their anatomy. Staying hydrated is important for flushing out bacteria and preventing painful UTIs. Read on to learn more about what you can drink to help treat and prevent urinary tract infections.
Symptoms of a Urine Infection
Some common symptoms of a UTI include:
– Frequent and intense urges to urinate, even when little comes out when you go
– Burning or pain when urinating
– Cloudy, bloody or foul-smelling urine
– Pressure or cramping in the lower abdomen or back
– Low fever and chills
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor to get properly diagnosed and treated with antibiotics. Home remedies can help relieve symptoms, but antibiotics are necessary to clear the infection.
Why Staying Hydrated Helps
Drinking plenty of fluids is one of the most important things you can do to help get rid of a UTI fast. Water and other fluids help flush out the bacteria causing the infection. Adequate hydration also dilutes urine, making it less hospitable to bacteria.
Drinking more liquids may reduce some UTI symptoms like foul-smelling urine, a frequent urge to urinate, and burning. Hydration helps you urinate more often to clear bacteria from your system.
How Much to Drink
When you have a UTI, health experts often recommend drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. Some even suggest slowly drinking half your body weight in ounces of liquids.
Drink whenever you feel thirsty, and continue hydrating even after your symptoms subside. Making hydration a habit is key to preventing recurrent UTIs.
Best Drinks for Treating a UTI
Here are some of the top fluids to drink when you have a urinary tract infection:
Plain water is the best hydrating drink. It flushes the urinary tract and dilutes urine without sugar or additives. Drink at least eight glasses of fresh water daily when fighting a UTI. You can add lemon slices for flavor. Staying hydrated may help reduce UTI recurrence.
Cranberry juice is a popular home remedy for UTIs. Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins (PACs) that may prevent bacteria like E. coli from adhering to the urinary tract walls. Make sure to choose pure, unsweetened cranberry juice, not cranberry cocktail juice which contains added sugar. Drink 1-2 glasses daily.
Like cranberries, blueberries are rich in proanthocyanidins. Early research shows the PACs in blueberries may have antibacterial effects against common UTI culprits like E. coli. Drink 1-2 cups of blueberry juice daily to help combat infection.
Baking Soda and Water
Mixing 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda into an 8 ounce glass of water can temporarily reduce UTI discomfort. The alkaline baking soda makes urine less acidic, soothing bladder irritation. Just don’t drink more than 3 doses in 24 hours.
This fermented probiotic beverage may protect against UTIs by maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria in the urinary tract. Look for unflavored kefir water low in sugar. Limit to 6-8 ounces per day as a UTI remedy.
Compounds called catechins found in green tea have both anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects that may help UTIs. The antioxidants may prevent bacteria from attaching to the bladder. Limit caffeinated green tea to 2 cups daily.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Adding 1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar to a glass of water creates an alkaline drink that may inhibit UTI bacteria and reduce inflammation. However, apple cider vinegar may interact with certain medications, so check with your doctor first.
Lemon water enhances hydration and adds vitamin C. Like cranberries, lemons contain citric acid that can help change the pH balance of urine to fight infection. Mix 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice into a glass of water.
Herbal teas like chamomile, parsley, corn silk and marshmallow root have soothing, anti-inflammatory properties that can help UTIs. They contain active compounds that may fight bacteria and bladder inflammation or irritation.
Foods to Avoid with a UTI
Some foods and drinks can worsen UTI symptoms or encourage bacteria growth. Limit these when treating a UTI:
– Alcohol – Irritates the bladder
– Caffeine – Stimulant that can inflame the bladder
– Sugary drinks – Feed bacteria growth
– Citrus juices – Can burn inflamed tissues
– Spicy foods – Can further irritate the urethra and bladder
– Tomatoes/tomato products – Can aggravate bladder irritation
– Dairy products – Linked to UTIs in some individuals
When to See a Doctor
Home remedies can only do so much when you have a UTI. Always see a doctor if UTI symptoms don’t start improving within 1-2 days. You should also seek medical care if you:
– Have kidney infection symptoms like fever, chills, nausea, or back/side pain
– Are pregnant
– Have diabetes or a weakened immune system
– Have recurring UTIs
Your doctor can test a urine sample to identify the bacteria causing your infection. They may prescribe antibiotics to clear the UTI. Some recurrent UTI cases may require longer antibiotic treatment.
Preventing Future UTIs
Staying hydrated, urinating frequently, and wiping front-to-back after using the bathroom can help prevent UTIs from recurring. Your doctor may also recommend taking a daily low-dose antibiotic if you get frequent UTIs.
Some other UTI prevention tips include:
– Wear cotton underwear and loose pants
– Avoid potentially irritating feminine products
– Pee before and after sex
– Take probiotic supplements
– Drink cranberry juice regularly
– Consider D-mannose supplements
When to Seek Emergency Care
Most UTIs can be treated with fluids, home remedies, and antibiotics from your doctor. But some rare cases require emergency medical care.
Go to an emergency room or urgent care right away if you have any of the following severe UTI symptoms:
– High fever of 103°F (39.4°C) or higher
– Bloody urine
– Inability to urinate at all
– Shaking, chills, rapid heart rate
– Nausea and vomiting
– Confusion or change in mental status
– Lower back or side pain
These could indicate a kidney infection that needs IV antibiotics and possibly hospitalization. Ignoring these dangerous symptoms can lead to sepsis, so always seek immediate care.
Here is a table summarizing the best drinks for a UTI:
|Flushes bacteria, dilutes urine
|8 glasses daily
|Prevents bacteria from adhering to urinary tract
|1-2 glasses daily
|Contains PACs with antibacterial effects
|1-2 cups daily
|Baking Soda and Water
|Soothes bladder irritation and reduces acidity
|Limit to 3 doses/24 hrs
|Provides probiotics to maintain urinary balance
|6-8 oz daily
|Anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects
|Limit to 2 cups daily
|Apple Cider Vinegar
|Inhibits bacteria, reduces inflammation
|1-2 Tbsp in water
|Adds vitamin C and changes urine pH
|2 Tbsp lemon juice in water
|Soothe inflammation and may have antimicrobial effects
|No set amount
When to Call a Doctor
Contact your doctor if your UTI does not improve within 2 days of home treatment. Also call right away if you have any of the following:
- Fever above 101°F (38°C)
- Chills or shaking
- Back, side or abdominal pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blood in urine
- Inability to urinate
These may indicate a kidney infection that could lead to serious complications if left untreated. Your doctor can advise you on seeking emergency care if needed.
The Bottom Line
Drinking plenty of fluids is crucial for treating a UTI fast. Water, herbal teas, baking soda mixes, and juices like cranberry, blueberry, or lemon can help flush out bacteria and soothe bladder discomfort. Avoid drinks like alcohol, coffee, citrus juices, and sugary sodas that may worsen symptoms. See a doctor right away if your UTI isn’t improving or you develop any concerning symptoms. With the right hydration regimen and medical care, you can get rid of your UTI and prevent painful recurrences.