UTI (Urinary tract infections) occur more commonly than any other infection in the world. It affects an average of about 150 million humans in the world every year. In America alone, a whopping sum of $3.5 billion is spent on treating UTI with prescription antibiotics in America every year. That’s why UTI treatment over the counter has been in the talks for some time now.
UTIs affect both males and females. But women who are within childbearing age seem to be more prone. Most women in this age range would experience one or more episodes of UTI in life. By the time you are 32 years old as a woman, there’s a 50 percent chance that you would have experienced UTI at least once. Meanwhile, about one out of every 4 women who have UTI would have a recurrence within one year.
Escherichia coli are the bacteria responsible for UTIs. However, certain factors can put you at a higher risk of getting a UTI. These include menopause, sexual intercourse, pregnancy, the use of spermicides, and genetics. Older age, the persistent use of antibiotics, and obesity might also make UTI treatment more difficult.
Sometimes, you might have no obvious symptoms when you have a UTI. However, you might experience some symptoms and signs, including urgent and frequent urination. Sometimes, there’s also pain and burning sensations while urinating.
Some people also experience low fever, ill-feeling, vomiting, nausea, and abdominal or back pain. Another thing you might notice is bloody, odorous, or cloudy urine.
Doctors would typically prescribe antibiotics for treating UTI. But can you use over-the-counter meds? What self-care tips can help you treat UTI? Read on to find out.
UTI Over-the-counter Treatment
The active ingredients in some over-the-counter (OTC) drugs can help with treating UTIs. For instance, some OTC analgesics you could use include sodium salicylate, phenazopyridine hydrochloride, and methenamine.
Phenazopyridine provides effective relief from symptoms, such as pain, itching, burning, and urinary urgency. You can get this med in both OTC and prescription forms. The dosage of the prescription tablets is usually between 100 and 200 mg. The OTC form, on the other hand, is usually between 95 and 97.5 mg.
The recommended maximum dosage for OTC phenazopyridine is 2 tablets 3 times daily. You should take it either during meals or afterward with one full water glass. It’s advisable not to use this med for more than 2 days in a row.
If you have allergies to dyes or if you have kidney disease, you should avoid using phenazopyridine. More so, while taking this med, the color of your urine might turn reddish-orange. This is not in any way harmful but it might stain your clothing.
Some of the common side effects of using this med include upset stomach, headache, and dizziness. But it is generally safe.
Methenamine is an antibacterial drug while sodium salicylate is an NSAID (non-steroidal inflammatory drug). These 2 drugs work in synergy with each other.
What sodium salicylate does is help stabilize the pH of urine. This allows methenamine to obstruct bacterial growth along your urinary tract. This, in turn, controls the UTI. Experts recommend a dosage of 2 tablets 3 times daily.
You should, however, avoid this combination if you have salicylate allergies. It also doesn’t fit well into low-sodium eating. Those on anticoagulant therapy should also avoid this treatment.
Other OTC options for treating UTI include various pain relievers. These include NSAIDs and acetaminophen. These provide general pain relief. They do not treat the infection itself.
Self-Care for UTI Treatment
Science supports a few self-care tips for treating UTIs. If your UTI is uncomplicated, you can effectively treat it with the following tips:
1. Maintain proper hydration
Regular water intake might help in the treatment of UTIs. It is indeed a very easy way to clear off infections from your urinary tract. When you drink water, it helps the organs of your urinary tract remove waste and bacteria efficiently.
When you are properly hydrated, it also dilutes your urine and helps it clear off more quickly. And if they clear off on time, bacteria would not be able to reach your urinary organs’ cell linings.
Experts have no recommendations set on how much water you should drink every day if you have a UTI. But it would be good to do a little above the average eight 8 ounces each day.
2. Don’t delay your urination
Whenever the need to urinate arises, go let it out immediately. The reason why you experience frequent urination when you have a UTI is that urination helps to wash the bacteria out of your urinary system.
Urinating on time also reduces how much time the bacteria in your urine come in contact with your urinary tract cells. As such, urinating on time is a good way to prevent UTIs in the first place.
3. Take cranberry juice
Cranberry juices have been proven and well-established as natural remedies for treating UTIs. Traditionally, People also have used cranberry juice to clear off general infections, as well as make wound recovery faster.
However, studies on how effective cranberry juice is for treating UTIs have come out with mixed results. Many reviews, however, show that cranberry juice has compounds in it that might prevent the cells of E. coli from attaching themselves to urinary tract cells.
There are also some powerful antioxidants in cranberry juice. These include polyphenols. Interestingly, polyphenols also have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
Experts are yet to establish any guidelines for cranberry juice “dosage” to treat UTIs. But many sources recommend drinking about 400 mL of 25% (or more) cranberry juice daily to treat or even prevent UTIs.
Vitamin-C also has antioxidant properties and boosts immune function. You can take Vitamin C supplements in moderate amounts while treating UTIs.
Antibiotics are not always necessary for treating UTIs. You can use UTI treatment over the counter meds and self-care to treat some UTIs. However, you should still get medical attention if you have any infection. If you suspect you might have an infection, you should also see your physician. This would reduce complication risks.