Also known as an UTI, a bladder infection occurs when the bacteria from the anal region travel upward towards the urinary tract walls and ultimately the bladder. In some cases, a bladder infection can also spread to the kidneys. Symptoms of a UTI include painful urination, abdominal cramps, fever and in some cases, blood in the urine. In this guide, we will study the causes, symptoms and methods of treating UTI quickly using the right over the counter UTI medicine.
Causes of bladder infection
As stated above, a bladder infection occurs when the bacteria present in the feces or in and around the anus travels upwards towards the bladder or kidneys. In women, the distance between the anus and urethra is less than that in men. As a result, the bacteria have an easy access to the bladder. Improper hygiene practices like wiping back to front after bowel movement can add to the risk of developing a UTI.
Other causes of UTI are:
- Obstruction in the flow of urine. This could be in the form of kidney stones which prevent the bladder from emptying out completely. As the urine sits for a long time in the bladder, it leads to an infection.
- In case of senior patients, the use of catheters can also lead to UTI.
- In women, sexual intercourse can cause UTIs.
- Babies kept in nappies and diapers also have an increased risk of UTIs.
Symptoms of UTI
As stated above, the most common symptom of a bladder infection is the need to urinate frequently with very little urine being produced-hardly a few drops at a time. Patients also experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Stinging sensation when urinating
- Abdominal cramps
- Bloody and malodorous urine
- In older patients, there may be confusion, memory problems etc
The best home treatment for UTI
The following home care instructions can be used as part of the best over-the-counter treatment for UTI:
- Make sure that you empty the bladder completely. Urinate fully every time you feel the urge.
- Girls and women must follow best practices during bowel movement in that; one must wipe front to back and not vice-a-versa.
- Take adequate rest. If you have fever and pain, use an over-the-counter pain reducer. You can also take over-the-counter UTI pills like AZO. These are made specifically for managing pain associated with a bladder infection. They contain ingredients which give long-lasting relief from pain and fever that accompanies UTIs.
- Do not give any over the counter pain relieving medication to a child suffering from UTI without first consulting a pediatrician.
- Use hot packs for relieving cramps. This is one of the best UTI treatments and you can even make a hot pack by filling up an old sock with wheat or rice grains and microwaving it for a few seconds.
OTC treatment for UTI
The best OTC treatment for bladder infection is Pyridium or Phenazopyridine. This is available in most pharmacies without a prescription. That being said, treatment for UTI should be designed for each patient based on individual medical history. Recurrent UTIs must especially be treated under the care and guidance of a specialist. In most cases, antibiotics may be prescribed, but often, they become ineffective as the strain of bacteria causing the bladder infection tend to become immune to the drugs. So, a urine culture could become necessary as it helps the doctor prescribe an exact dosage and class of antibiotic drugs specific to that strain of pathogens.
In case of severe bladder infections, patients might need Intravenous medication as well as hospitalization. For milder forms of bladder infections (called cystitis), oral antibiotics generally help. However, kidney infections or pyelonephritis could spread to the blood stream and become fatal. Also, in some women, the UTI might have been caused by pathogens that also lead to Sexually Transmitted Diseases. In such cases, over the counter UTI medicine may not be sufficient to treat the issue and more than a single dose of antibiotics may be needed.
Apart from using the over the counter UTI medicine, do follow these steps to avoid recurrent UTIs;
- Women must use sanitary pads instead of tampons as the latter are known to increase risk of UTI.
- Take good care after sexual intercourse-urinate and clean yourself immediately following sex.
- Follow hygienic practices after bowel movement, specifically front to back wiping.
- Avoid tight fitting jeans and thongs as they facilitate the spread of bacteria from anal area to the vagina.
- Use cotton instead of nylon underwear.
- Avoid harsh cosmetic products, douche gels, shower gels, perfumes etc near the genital area
- Drink plenty of water and urinate fully. Make sure you do not hold the urine; instead empty it out fully. Avoid beverages that irritate the lining of the bladder such as caffeine, alcohol etc.
- Cranberry juice and cranberry supplements may help prevent UTI. There is some evidence that certain compounds in cranberries help limit the adherence of bacteria to the lining of the bladder. Avoid these if you are prone to kidney stones. Also mention if you are taking cranberry supplements for bladder infection to your doctor as they could interfere with the UTI antibiotics you are taking.
If the over the counter UTI medicine does not show results, it is best to consult a doctor immediately.