A bacterial infection of the urinary tract can be extremely painful. Most women will suffer at one time or another, but it is fairly easy to treat cystitis. Read on to discover home remedies that you can use to prevent and cure this condition.
All about cystitis
The female urethra is shorter than that of the male urethra, so cystitis affects women more often. Bacteria such as escherichia coli, staphylococcus, streptococcus or trachomotis are all potential contaminants.
Common tell-tale symptoms of cystitis are:
- sharp, stabbing pains in the stomach
- frequent urge to urinate
- burning sensations during urination
- fever/raised body temperature
- shivering sensations
- discomfort in general.
Most common causes of cystitis:
- External birth control methods (diaphragms, condoms and spermicidal gels)
- Frequent or prolonged sexual intercourse that damages the urethra
- Hormonal changes caused by (for example) pregnancy or menopause
- Suppressing the need to urinate
Common recommendations for treating cystitis
- Increase your intake of liquids: at the first sign of infection, drink a large glass of water every hour. This will cleanse your bladder and wash it free of the bacteria that is likely the source of the cystitis.
- When you need to go, go! It’s not a contest. If you feel that you need to pee, you should find a toilet as soon as possible. Forcing your bladder to hold back will only make it suffer unnecessarily by having to create more space for excess urine. Not only will prolonging the need to urinate mean that it’s more difficult to pee when you finally do, but also germs will take advantage when they stick around in the urinary system.
- Apply heat to the painful area. Place a hot compress or thermal pillow on your stomach or where it’s most painful.
- Have a good soak. When the burning sensation is just too much, fill the bath with warm water and relax. Let it ease your pain. If you are pregnant, consult your GP for advice. It may harm your baby to take too many warm baths.
- Practise safe sex. This means that you and your partner should makes sure that your genitals are clean and in a good state of hygiene before having sex.
- Opt for cotton underwear. This is especially important for women, because their genitals come into closer contact with their clothing. Looser clothing gives your genitals the chance to breathe and they’ll remain drier that way. For men, loose-fitting boxers are the best option.
- Avoid too much tipple. Alcohol annoys your urinary tract. If you often suffer from cystitis or you are currently in its throes, it’s best to say no to alcohol.
- Check your birth control. A diaphragm squeezes the opening of the bladder and can harm it. This, in turn, causes inflammation and means that urine can’t pass properly. The defence mechanisms of the bladder are disturbed by spermicidal gels. This permits bacteria to survive and they then invade the bladder.
- Be mindful of the frequency of bladder infections. If you find that you’re suffering often, note down when they arise and try to identify the causes. This can help lead you to discover their triggers.
- Keep it clean. For good genital hygiene, you really don’t need to use special vaginal washes or deodorants. A mild, natural soap will do. Very hot and prolonged showers are to be avoided.
- If you have family medical history of kidney problems, do see your GP. The same applies if you have diabetes or are pregnant, if you suffer from tremors or vomiting, have a high fever, see blood in your urine, suffer from high blood pressure, are a man over the age of 50 or suspect that you may have an STI.
Common remedies for cystitis
- Put two tablespoons of pure agave nectar and two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drink with each meal.
- Each day, eat three raw garlic cloves.
- Add a tablespoon of baking soda to a glass of water and drink twice daily.
- Boil three tablespoons of corn silk (which you can buy online) in a cup of water for 10 minutes and drink each day.
- Make a parsley infusion by boiling two tablespoons of leaves in boiling water for 10 minutes. Drink daily.
- Soak marshmallow root in a litre of water overnight. Make an infusion with four tablespoons of the root and drink it throughout the day.
- Put 500 grams of washed cherries (stems intact) into a bain-marie. Cook them until they are soft and make a puree of them. Sieve the seeds to better break them up, then put them back in the bain-marie. Boil into a pulp. Add 250 grams of cane sugar to the cherries and continue cooking until it becomes syrupy. Save the completely cooled juice in an airtight jar. A tablespoon per day is the recommended dose.
- Add 3 raw garlic cloves to two tablespoons of chamomile and a litre of water. Boil for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Leave it completely cool, then strain it. Use this as a vaginal wash at night before you go to bed.
- Cranberry juice has antibacterial properties. It stops bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract walls and this means that it can be more easily eliminated in the urine. You can safely enjoy up to three glasses per day if you suspect cystitis.
- Put 4 onions in a litre of water and boil. Drink this infusion throughout the day.
Images courtesy of US Pacific Air Force Ces, Lara 604, Department of Foreign, Ben Scholzen, Larry Hoffman, Varchar N.