Is It Possible To Self-Treat a Bladder Infection?

Getting Proactive About Your UTI

Woman drinking cranberry juice
Woman drinking cranberry juice. Getty Images/Burke/Triolo Productions

A bladder infection—also known as a urinary tract infection (UTI)—occurs when bacteria multiply throughout the urinary track system. While the majority of UTIs are not serious, they often cause severe symptoms such as pain and/or burning upon urination.

Is There Anything I Can Do About It On My Own?

While antibiotics prescribed by a physician are the only way to cure a bladder infection, there are some things you can do at home to self-treat the symptoms and to help prevent future bladder infections.

One popular way to treat and prevent bladder infections at home is to drink cranberry juice. Cranberry juice can help reduce the frequency of bladder infections, and you can even find cranberry herbal supplements that are available over-the-counter (OTC). Many women find they work amazingly quickly.

A drug called Azo-Standard is also available. You can use it to relieve the pain associated with your UTI. Azo-Standard does not, however, cure the underlying infection.

Some doctors also recommend taking 500 IU Vitamin C daily as soon as you notice any signs of a UTI in order to lessen the severity of your infection.

How Will I Know for Sure That What I'm Experiencing Is a Bladder Infection?

The symptoms that typically accompany a bladder infection include the strong, constant urge to urinate, a sharp pain or burning sensation in the urethra during urination, the inability to fully empty your bladder, blood in your urine, and a soreness in your lower abdomen, back, or sides.

Still, before beginning to treat yourself, you should see your healthcare provider when you notice these symptoms in order to receive a proper diagnosis and ensure that these are not signs of anything else. At that point, your doctor will be able to prescribe the appropriate antibiotic treatment.

An additional urine test may be ordered about a week after completing treatment to be sure the infection is gone.

This UTI Is Painful. How Can I Ensure I Don't Get Another One?

There are actually a number of things you can do to lower your chances of getting another bladder infection. For one, be sure to practice good personal hygiene, wiping from front to back after you go to the bathroom, and washing your nether regions daily. Washing before and after sexual intercourse, or at least urinating before and after sex, may also decrease your risk of a UTI.

You should also drink plenty of water every day to help flush bacterium out of the urinary system. And then empty your bladder as soon as you feel the urge to urinate. Vitamin C can also help, by making the urine acidic and helping to reduce the number of potentially harmful bacteria in the urinary tract system.

Also, consider wearing only cotton underpants, which better allow moisture to escape. Other materials can trap moisture and create a potential breeding ground for bacteria. 

Some physicians prescribe an antibiotic to be taken immediately following sex for women who tend to have frequent UTIs.

More About UTIs


Urinary Tract Infection. National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. Accessed 08/24/09.

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