Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common bacterial infections that affect the urinary system. They occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract and multiply, often in the bladder. UTIs can be painful and uncomfortable, causing symptoms like a frequent urge to urinate, burning during urination, and pain in the pelvis or lower abdomen.
While antibiotics are often prescribed to treat UTIs, some research shows that certain beverages may also help prevent or alleviate UTI symptoms. Staying hydrated and avoiding potential bladder irritants are key parts of UTI management. Here’s an overview of some of the top drinks to consider when you have a UTI.
Staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do when you have a UTI. Drinking plenty of fluids helps dilute urine and flush out bacteria from the urinary tract.
Plain water is the best hydrating beverage.Aim for around eight 8-ounce (240 ml) glasses of water per day. Drink more if you’re sweating a lot or live in a hot climate. Adequate water intake may help prevent UTIs by keeping the urinary system flushed clean.
Cranberry juice is commonly used as a home remedy for UTIs. Cranberries contain substances called proanthocyanidins (PACs). These compounds may prevent bacteria like E. coli from adhering to the bladder walls, thus interfering with infection.
Some research shows that regular cranberry juice consumption may reduce UTI recurrence in women. In one study in older women, those who drank cranberry juice daily had fewer UTIs over a 6-month period compared to those who did not drink cranberry juice.
When choosing cranberry juice, opt for unsweetened varieties to avoid added sugars. Cranberry capsules or tablets are another option.
Like cranberries, blueberries also contain PACs and may have similar antibacterial effects against UTIs. Early research shows blueberry juice may reduce certain types of bacteria in urine.
In one 4-week study, women drank 7 ounces (200 ml) of wild blueberry juice daily. Drinking blueberry juice significantly reduced UTI symptoms and markers of inflammation.
Opt for 100% wild blueberry juice with no added sugars or diluting juices. Or try adding fresh or frozen blueberries to smoothies and water.
Kefir is a fermented milk beverage made by adding kefir grains to milk. It provides probiotics, which are beneficial gut bacteria that may support immune function and urinary tract health.
Several studies show probiotics may help prevent recurrent UTIs, especially in women. Probiotics may work by preventing the growth of harmful bacteria in the urinary tract.
Try integrating kefir into your diet when you have a UTI. Choose plain, unsweetened varieties or make your own kefir at home by adding kefir grains to fresh milk.
Baking soda water
Drinking baking soda mixed with water may help relieve UTI symptoms. Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, acts as a natural antacid that makes urine less acidic.
This may help soothe bladder irritation. In one study, women who drank water with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) daily for 3 days had significantly fewer UTI symptoms than those who drank plain water.
To make baking soda water, mix 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of baking soda into an 8-ounce (240-ml) glass of water and drink immediately. Limit intake to 3 glasses per 24 hours to avoid side effects.
Some people claim that drinking lemon water helps treat UTIs due to its acidic pH. However, research is lacking.
Lemon water may be a helpful alternative when plain water gets boring. Try squeezing some fresh lemon juice into a glass of warm water. Avoid adding sugar.
You can also infuse water with lemon slices. Just be sure to wash the lemons thoroughly first.
Certain herbal teas may have antimicrobial effects that help fight UTIs. Popular options include:
- Green tea
- Bearberry leaf tea
- Buchu tea
- Corn silk tea
- Marshmallow root tea
Research on herbal teas for UTIs is limited. However, they may provide extra hydration and antioxidant benefits.
Avoid any teas that act as diuretics, like caffeine. Opt for decaffeinated varieties, and don’t add sugar.
Apple cider vinegar
Diluted apple cider vinegar may help fight UTIs in some people. Like baking soda, apple cider vinegar alkalizes urine to discourage bacterial growth.
To use it, mix 2 teaspoons (10 ml) into a glass of water and drink up to twice daily. Start with smaller amounts to avoid potential side effects from too much acidity.
Apple cider vinegar may interact with certain medications. Check with your healthcare provider before using it if you take any medications.
Beverages to avoid
Certain beverages may irritate the bladder, so it’s best to avoid them when you have a UTI. Beverages to limit include:
- Alcohol. Alcohol is dehydrating and may irritate the bladder. Best to avoid it until your UTI has cleared.
- Caffeinated drinks. These include coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks.
- Sugary drinks. Added sugars can feed bacteria growth.
- Artificial sweeteners. Some report that diet soda worsens UTI symptoms.
- Fruit juices. Only drink small amounts, diluting them with water.
- Carbonated beverages. Bubbly drinks may irritate the bladder.
If you drink cow’s milk, limit intake to 1–2 glasses daily. Some research links higher milk intake to increased UTI risk.
When to see a doctor
Drinking UTI-friendly beverages can often help resolve mild infections. However, prompt medical treatment is still important.
See your healthcare provider if you experience severe UTI symptoms like:
- Fever or chills
- Nausea or vomiting
- Back, side, or abdominal pain
- Blood in urine
UTIs that spread to the kidneys can be serious. Seek immediate medical care if you have symptoms like:
- Shaking and chills
- Flank pain
Your doctor can test your urine and prescribe antibiotics as needed to clear bacterial infections.
The bottom line
Drinking adequate fluids and avoiding bladder irritants is key when you have a UTI. Water, herbal tea, and diluted juices like cranberry, blueberry, and lemon water are generally UTI-friendly.
Beverages to limit include sugary drinks, caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated sodas, which may worsen symptoms. See your healthcare provider if your UTI persists or worsens.
|Drinks to Try||Drinks to Avoid|
Drinking adequate fluids and avoiding potential bladder irritants are important parts of UTI management. Water, herbal teas, and juices like cranberry, blueberry, and lemon water may help flush bacteria from the urinary tract. Limit caffeine, alcohol, carbonation, sugars, and artificial sweeteners when you have a UTI. Seek prompt medical treatment for severe or persisting infections.