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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Eki Wari on April 18, 2022

Urinary Tract Infection Relief To Help You Care For Yourself

A urinary tract infection is common among pregnant women, but that doesn't mean you have to suffer through one. Read these tips from our experts on safe ways to manage a UTI.

Urinary tract infection min scaled

Many people will experience a urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point in their lives. If you’re prone to chronic UTI’s, then you know how frustrating it can be to manage symptoms.

Luckily, there are many things you can do to protect yourself against them as well as manage symptoms at home. In this guide, our experts provide tips on how to care for yourself when you have a urinary tract infection.

What Causes A Urinary Tract Infection?

Dehydration and working through bathroom breaks could increase your risk of a UTI.

The urinary tract, which plays a primary role in removing urine from our body, consists of a bladder, urethra, two kidneys, and two ureters. When exposed to certain risk factors, a urinary tract infection can occur.

Women are more prone to this infection due to a shorter urethra than men. The root cause of this infection is the presence of bacteria, which will travel up the urinary tract to your bladder and kidneys, resulting in an infection.

Multiple elements can increase a person’s risk of infection. These include pregnancy, kidney stones, sexual intercourse, and urinary catheters. Inadequate water consumption, an enlarged prostate gland, improper care of the genital area, and a weakened immune system due to treatments like chemotherapy can also make you susceptible. 

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Damp-Heat accumulation at the lower parts of the body and poor qi (vital energy) transformation by the Kidneys and Bladder are the main causes of urinary tract infections. TCM physician Lim Sock Ling also mentions the four contributing factors to this bacterial infection:

  1. External Dampness and Heat at the genitals or other organs impacting the Bladder system
  2. Drinking too much alcohol and overindulgence in spicy and oily food
  3. Poor emotional management causes Liver Fire to impact the Bladder
  4. Excessive sexual intercourse, chronic health conditions, and over-exhaustion weaken the immune system. Hence, you’re more prone to external pathogens, resulting in a higher risk of UTI.

How To Treat Urinary Tract Infection

Drinking cranberry juice may help reduce the symptoms of a UTI. Be sure to drink juice with no sugar added.

Here are some treatment options for UTIs from both a Western medicine and TCM approach.

Western medicine

A general practitioner will usually prescribe a three-to-seven-day course of antibiotics after performing a urine test. To self-manage the pain from the infection, you can take paracetamol up to four times a day. While pregnant women can safely use antibiotics, always check with a healthcare professional before consuming any medication.

Call your healthcare provider immediately if you experience symptoms like fever, chills, abdominal pains, or still urinating with a burning feeling even after a course of antibiotics. For mild cases, sugar-free cranberry juice may help to relieve the symptoms.

TCM herbal remedies

In TCM, practitioners will properly diagnose the root cause of UTI. Then, they will prescribe herbal remedies that can help clear the Heat and nourish fluid to promote urination. “For pregnant women, we don’t use herbs that are excessively bitter and cooling as it may not be safe for the fetus,” says physician Lim.

Depending on the diagnosis, there are several popular herbal remedies that may help alleviate the symptoms of UTI:

  • Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan: This is suitable for people who have Yin Deficiency. This remedy nourishes the yin, clears Heat, and moistens dryness.
  • Dao Chi San: This is usually prescribed for people who have an exuberance of Heart-Fire syndrome. It clears Fire from the Heart and nourishes dryness.
  • Jia Wei Wu Ling San: A remedy that clears Heat and removes Dampness for people who experience Damp-Heat conditions in their lower region.

Additionally, research shows that probiotics may be able to help reduce the risk of urinary tract infections. If you suffer from reoccurring UTIs, then it’s advisable to take a probiotic pill daily to reduce your risk of infection and counteract any side effects of taking antibiotics regularly.

Acupuncture

A randomized trial that compared the efficacy of acupuncture in treating a urinary tract infection showed that approximately 50% of women experienced the condition less frequently than women who didn’t receive treatment.

“Depending on the causes and acupuncture points used, acupuncture can help clear Bladder or lower region Heat. This treatment can also promote urination, relieve difficulty in urinating as well as strengthen the Kidney, Bladder, and Spleen,” says physician Lim. However, she advises pregnant women not to get acupuncture treatment. Many acupoints are in the abdomen area and lower back region, which can cause contractions.

Lifestyle habits

Physician Lim recommends keeping yourself hydrated and not holding your urine to prevent infection. It’s advisable to wash or clean your genital area after urination or before sexual intercourse. Also, empty your bladder before and after sexual intercourse. She suggests limiting spicy foods as well as sweet juices, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages. Wearing tight pants or strong-scented soap can also increase your risk of contracting a UTI.

While a urinary tract infection can be easily treated, don’t delay getting treatment even if symptoms are mild. When left untreated, this infection may lead to Kidney damage. Talk to a doctor or TCM practitioner to ensure you have a proper treatment regimen for this condition.

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