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Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by bacteria and are 10 times more common among women than men. More than 50% of women will have at least one UTI during their lifetime; for most of these infections, patients need to see a doctor and be treated with antibiotics. About 30 - 40% of UTIs recur within 6 months after the initial episode. When UTIs do recur, it is often because the treatments used to suppress bacteria seem to work at first, but they do not produce a lasting cure. UTIs can also recur if a woman is infected by different bacteria.
Signs and Symptoms
What Causes It?
Risk factors include:
What to Expect at Your Provider's Office
Your health care provider will feel your abdomen and kidneys for changes and use laboratory tests, such as a urine culture, to find out if you have a UTI. If the usual treatments do not work, your health care provider will explore the possibility that you have some other condition. Other illnesses, such as sexually transmitted diseases, can cause symptoms that mimic a UTI.
Doctors may presecribe antibiotics or other drugs to treat UTIs. The course for most antibiotics is 7 - 10 days, though shorter courses of treatment are also available.
Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Some complementary and alternative (CAM) therapies may be helpful for UTIs, but they may not be right for every patient. Natural medicines and supplements may interact with prescription medications. Work with a knowledgeable health care provider, and always tell all of your health care providers about the herbs and supplements you are taking.
Nutrition and Supplements
Following these nutritional tips may help reduce symptoms:
You may address nutritional deficiencies with the following supplements:
Natural hormone replacement therapy may help prevent UTIs. Ask your health care provider about this treatment.
Herbs may help strengthen and tone the body's systems. As with any therapy, you should work with your health care provider before starting treatment. You may use herbs as dried extracts (capsules, powders, or teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, make teas with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 - 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 - 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 - 4 cups per day. You may use tinctures alone or in combination as noted. Many herbs interact with medications, so tell your doctor about any herbal therapies you are using or considering using. The following herbs may be useful for short term treatment of a urinary tract infection.
Few studies have examined the effectiveness of specific homeopathic remedies. Professional homeopaths, however, may recommend one or more of the following treatments for UTI based on their knowledge and clinical experience. Before prescribing a remedy, homeopaths take into account a person's constitutional type -- your physical, emotional, and intellectual makeup. An experienced homeopath assesses all of these factors when determining the most appropriate remedy for a particular individual.
Preventive measures you can follow:
If you are pregnant, you are at higher risk of developing a UTI.
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Review Date: 6/9/2012
Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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