How can I get rid of UTIs fast?

Qualified Nutritionist (BSc, MSc, RNutr)
Ask Emma

12 May 2022

How can I get rid of a UTI fast?

Whilst in some cases you may need to see a health care professional to treat a UTI fast, depending on the severity of your symptoms, herbal remedies such as Uva-ursi & Echinacea, plus employing techniques from home, such as flushing your system with lots of water, plus cranberry juice, can also help to treat the symptoms quickly.

How can I treat a UTI quickly?

Here I run through my top tips for getting the symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI) under control quickly:

1. Visit your pharmacy

First of all, there are a number of scenarios where you might want to treat a UTI particularly fast. One example might be if you suspect you have an upper UTI. So, this is when the infection starts to go towards the kidneys.

Some red flags indicating there may be an upper UTI at play might include back pain, but also if you've got any fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, or any other symptoms that suggest that the infection is traveling higher up the urinary tract and/or more systemically. In this case, we would definitely want to get that treated quickly, after being assessed by the doctor.

So, this is why my first tip is to visit your doctor and/or pharmacy. There your pharmacist could talk through the options depending on your symptoms. Perhaps a dose of antibiotics might be necessary in some cases. But, of course, we would hope to only take antibiotics if it was definitely necessary and then also to follow the correct dosage instructions. So, for example, to complete a full course, if required.

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2. Pick up some Uva-ursi & Echinacea

If the infection is suitable for home treatment without medical interventions, you could alternatively pick up some Uva-ursi & Echinacea at your pharmacy (or in health food stores, for that matter).

Uva-ursi & Echinacea are licensed herbal drops for treating urinary tract symptoms associated with cystitis or UTIs. So, this is often a great alternative to something like antibiotics if that was suitable. You can take 15 drops up to five times daily to help ward off the symptoms of urinary complaints relating to UTIs or cystitis.

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3. Drink plenty of water

Now, we would hope that people would be drinking plenty of water anyway, but of course, it can be something that can slip our minds, or perhaps recently, depending on what's going on, you maybe haven't been keeping up with your water as much as you would like to. But this is definitely something to introduce as quickly as possible.

Aim to consume at least two litres of water a day if you've got an active infection. Then, as per our general advice, I would say to try and separate it slightly from your meals just to protect your lovely gastric juices.

4. Avoid irritants

Now, we're upping our water, but we want to ensure we are limiting irritants too.

Irritants of your urinary tract can include alcohol, caffeine, and refined sugar. Alcohol and caffeine, in particular, can irritate the lining of the urinary tract so, those would be classed as irritants that we would want to limit straight away if you had an active infection.

Refined sugar is more directly going to impact the bad bacteria. Remember, UTIs are caused by bad bacteria and sources of refined sugars can potentially feed those bacteria. When it comes to refined sugar, it can be found in lots of the more obvious choices including; sweet treats, fizzy juice, sweetened drinks, but it can actually be hidden in lots of extras as well, such as savoury options, processed, and packaged foods; ready meals, tomato sauce, things like that.

5. Cranberries

Now, cranberries in their whole form, although the whole form of fruit is often recommended, cranberries are particularly tart, so it's not something that we would tend to eat much of in their whole form. So, the next obvious choice would be cranberry juice.

But when it comes to cranberry juice, we want to be conscious of that rule of having no refined sugar. So, a really good quality juice is what we're looking for. This is where something like the Biotta Mountain Cranberry juice would come in, as it has no refined sugar added to it and is very good quality.

Cranberry has been used traditionally to help ward off the symptoms of UTIs and more specifically to help prevent the bacteria from sticking to the inside of your urinary tract. So, this would definitely be a liquid to include alongside water, but again, we do want to make sure you've got that minimum water intake; about two litres, and then just top up with smaller amounts of cranberry juice (100ml per day is usually adequate).

6. Rest

Rest is, again, something we would want you to put into place quite quickly if you can, and this all relates back to your immune system.

See, we're really relying on your immune system to not only detect that initial infection quickly but also to target it and try and manage the infection. So, a big part of your recovery is most definitely supporting your immune system and rest is an important part of that.

If you do too much too soon, the infection could end up lasting longer and you could actually suffer for it. If you are doing too much physically, then your stress response switches on and your immune system won't have enough resources; enough time and energy to really hone in on any infections.

So, rest is an absolute must, especially in those early days when the infection is most active. Although even beyond that, if you don't recover well from infection, you could be more likely to experience recurrent infections. So, it's just about being a little more aware of this and to help look after yourself during that time.

7. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is also very, very good for supporting that recovery process. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which means it helps to protect your cells, and your cells lining your urinary tract are no exception.

If you can help to, first of all, support the recovery and then help to protect these cells, you're less likely to fall victim to recurrent infections. Therefore, vitamin C is definitely one to try and up if you have a current infection and/or if you're experiencing recurrent infections.

Vitamin C is found in lots of lovely fresh foods, primarily your fresh fruit and vegetables, your citrus fruits, as well, are known for being high in vitamin C, but not forgetting your lovely vegetables, which will also be high in C, and slightly lower in sugar. Although, your fruits only contain natural sugars bound in a lovely matrix full of lovely phytonutrients, nutrients and fibres and things, so fruit from sugar isn't usually overly problematic unless we are consuming lots and lots.

If you're keen to top up just a little bit more, again, if you have something like an active infection and you're particularly keen to support yourself, something like our Nature-C would be a good one to add in at this time.

This is made from lovely whole fruits, acerola cherries for one, one of the highest (natural) sources of vitamin C. So, that would be one that would be helpful to include.

8. Probiotics

We don't have probiotics in our range, but I mentioned antibiotics at the start and this is an important point. Probiotics are most definitely one to consider if you've been put on a course of antibiotics.

There are probiotics out there that are specifically tailored for people who are on antibiotics. So as much as antibiotics can, in some cases, be effective at targeting the root of infection, the bad bacteria, unfortunately, antibiotics can risk also damaging our good bacteria. And that's when something like the probiotics would come in to help to replenish and just keep those good bacteria well.

After all, it's the good bacteria that are going to help you in the future and protect you against any recurrent infections or secondary infections as well.

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Here’s what I recommend

Emma our women's health advisor recommends Uva-ursi complex to help ease symptoms of cystitis and cranberry to maintain bladder health.

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Did you know?

Cystitis is sometimes known as ‘honeymoon cystitis’. Why? Well, during sex, bacteria can spread from the perineum to the urethral opening. The risk of developing cystitis is therefore increased depending on the frequency you have intercourse (sorry honeymooners!).

7 reasons you keep getting cystitis

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