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Over the counter treatment for urinary tract infection

Updated November 21, 2016

Over-the-counter treatment help is now available for the treatment of urinary tract infections. Although taking antibiotics aimed at eradicating bacteria is the most efficient cure, home remedies and herbal medicines can help.

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Cystex

Cystex is an over-the-counter medication composed of methenamine and sodium salicylate. While the makers of Cystex claim to have the only over-the-counter medication containing methenamine to prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract, and that cranberry juice contains acidic properties that make urination more painful, the chemical that does this is methenamine hippurate. Hippuric acid is one of the chemical in cranberries and unsweetened cranberry juice that performs this same action. Methenamine is an antiseptic, not an antibiotic. Cystex is meant to suspend the progression of a urinary tract infection until you can see a doctor, not to replace antibacterial medication.

Dipsticks

Home test kits can now be found over the counter that detect nitrite in the urine or check for the presence of white blood cells. Bacteria in the urinary tract actively change nitrate into nitrite. Women who suffer from frequent urinary tract infections can test at home by dipping a coated plastic strip in the urine stream for early detection of an infection, increasing the chance of catching and stopping the infection early. Some test kits come with capsules of cranberry or blueberry, which both contain antioxidant proanthocyanidins. Whether results of the dipstick tests are positive or negative, sufferers are advised to check with their doctor about suspect symptoms.

Herbal and Home Remedies

Any non-prescription medication is considered "over the counter." This includes herbal medicines. Consult an experienced herbalist or licensed naturopathic physician before beginning an herbal regimen to fight urinary tract infections, especially if you take any prescription drugs or are pregnant or nursing. Common herbs assigned to help urinary tract infections are uva ursi, cleavers (Galium aparine), corn silk (Zea mays) goldenseal root (Hydrastis canadensis), horsetail (Equisetum arvense) and marshmallow root (Althea officinalis).

Cranberries and unsweetened cranberry juice, blueberry juice, pink grapefruit juice and drinking 1/2 tsp of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) in 236ml of water are also over-the-counter remedies for urinary tract infections. Drink lots of water---between 2 and 3 litres or quarts per day--to help flush bacteria out of the urinary tract. Caffeine, alcohol and spicy food should be avoided during treatment.

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