Bladder infection (cystitis) is caused by bacteria—typically E. Coli—that travel up the urethra and into the bladder. Symptoms of a bladder infection include frequent, burning urination; blood in the urine; a feeling of not being able to empty the bladder completely, fatigue and lower back or abdominal pain.
Things To Avoid
If you suspect you have a bladder infection, take stock of your diet. Cut out sugar, alcohol and caffeine immediately. These are some of the worst offenders when it comes to promoting bacterial growth, dehydration and bladder irritation. Caffeine and alcohol are dehydrating bladder irritants, which further aggravate an inflamed urinary tract, while sugar promotes the overgrowth of yeast and harmful bacteria.
Bladder Infection Shopping List
There are a number of options for treating bladder infection, many of which are available at your local grocery store. Over-the-counter medications containing methenamine (Cystex) can help prevent the spread of the infection to the kidneys until you can see a doctor. Methenamine belongs to a group of medications called anti-infectives and can help prevent or slow some infections. Other OTC medications like Azo and Uristat contain phenazopyridine, a compound that eases the burning and urgency associated with cystitis.
Products containing cranberry are some of the most popular over-the-counter treatments for bladder infection. According to MedicalNewsToday.com, cranberry juice helps prevent bacteria from attaching to the urinary tract by interfering with tiny projections on the E. Coli bacterium. Both baking soda and Alka-Seltzer can help in treating the burning pain associated with a bladder infection, as can supplemental corn silk. The herb Uva Ursi is a popular alternative treatment that acts as a diuretic with antibacterial properties, while D-mannose and probiotic supplements can help lower concentrations of harmful bacteria in the bladder.
Hygiene is your first line of defense against cystitis. Only wear underwear with a white cotton crotch, do away with irritating soaps and bubble bath products, and urinate and wash immediately after sex. Wipe from front to back to avoid spreading E. Coli bacteria from the anus to the urethra (females), and avoid holding your bladder, as this allows bacteria to multiply.
Also important in preventing any form of urinary tract infection is drinking plenty of water—8 glasses or more each day. This is even more imperative in the midst of an infection. Water dilutes the urine and helps wash bacteria out of the kidneys and bladder, as well as keeping your body hydrated and operating at full capacity. Soups, herbal teas and other unsweetened, non-caffeinated beverages contribute to your daily water intake as well.
The only cure for cystitis is treatment with antibiotics. If you think you may have a bladder infection, see a doctor immediately to prevent spreading of the infection to the kidneys, which can be dangerous. Some supplements and medications can have unintended side effects and interactions, so consult a medical professional before starting a bladder infection regimen.