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Clear a UTI quick

Q: Hi Dr. Kim,
I am prone to UTIs and this most recent one is taking forever to get rid of. I’m on the antibiotics, what else can I do? Thanks! — Jim from Elizabethton

A: Hi Jim,
Thanks for your question. If you have chronic UTIs (urinary tract infection) or have had several in a row, you should see your provider to discuss this problem as it could be the sign of an underlying medical issue. Taking the antibiotics should clear it up, but of course there are things you can do during the course of your treatment to speed the process along and also to stop the infection from returning. Here I’ll share the tips that I have learned over the years.
First, you must take the antibiotics correctly. Follow the instructions exactly, do not skip any days, and finish all of them even after you start to feel better. If not all of the bacteria from the infection is gone, it will grow back and the UTI will return.
Second, understand the urinary system to get a better idea of what a UTI is. It is a growth of harmful bacteria in the bladder, ureters, or urethra that results in pain and inflammation until the immune system (or medicines) clear the bacteria. We all have normal bacteria in the body. When the bacteria is out of balance or a foreign bacteria invades the body, the immune system has to work to clear it. Bacterial infection is the most common cause of a UTI, but they can also be caused by stress, disruption in the body pH, dehydration, and improper nutrition. If you follow reasonable health practices and keep stress relief a priority, theoretically one would never have UTIs. The following are things you can do for a speed recovery:
1. Up your vitamin C intake. Choose foods that are rich in vitamin C, like leafy greens, berries, and vegetables. For the time being, take a simple vitamin C supplement once per day to boost the immune system response to the infection.
2. Rest. While your body is fighting off an infection you will need more sleep and rest than usual to recovery quickly.
3. Hydration: Drink water consistently until the urine runs clear. With the infection underway it may be painful and have a cloudy appearance, but staying hydrated is important to keep up the body’s strength to fight the infection. Urinating more often will help the bacteria to be cleared from the urethra.
4. Try Grandma’s trick: Drinking cranberry juice hasn’t exactly been proven to work, but this old remedy of drinking a pure cranberry juice for UTIs seems to have worked for many people over the years. Give it a try, it can’t hurt. Choose pure cranberry juice (organic if possible) with no sugar added.
5. Avoid sweet and fried foods while you have the infection. Sugar tends to “feed” the bacteria and overindulging on sweets would be counterproductive to clearing the infection. Sugar also contributes to inflammation, and when you have a UTI, the urinary system is already inflamed, so don’t add more.
6. Try cleansing herbal tea: Lemon Balm, Nettle, and Alfalfa herbal teas help to clear the bacteria from the urinary tract and reduce inflammation. Lemon Balm may also help reduce pain. Drink 1-2 large cups of the tea each day until the infection is cleared, and even for a few days after.
7. Eat yogurt or other probiotic foods when your round of antibiotics is over: this will help to repopulate the body’s “good” bacteria, especially in the digestive tract and rebalance the flora that were cleared by the antibiotics.
By following these tips, you will start to feel better even before the infection is gone. If UTI’s are something that you suffer from often, consult a physician and explain that it is a recurring problem. You may also consult the books of Rachel Weaver, MH and read the sections about UTI to understand how to prevent them and find remedies for discomfort.
Dr. Kimberly McMurtrey DNP, APRN, FNP-C is the Primary Provider at Tri Cities Health, located on West Elk Ave., Elizabethton. If you would like to submit a question for her to answer you can call 423-543-7000 or email your questions to tricitieshealth@outlook.com.
**Medical Disclaimer: The information contained in this column is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.