a UROLOGIST says: Urinary tract infections are commonly caused by E. coli in the bladder (women are anatomically at higher risk) and the only effective treatment for a fullblown infection is antibiotics.
TREATMENT: I take your medical history (noting symptoms like frequent urges to urinate, burning sensation when urinating, pain above the pubic bone, and blood in the urine) and perform a physical exam. I also run lab tests on your urine sample to identify red flags for infection (such as white blood cells) and a urine culture to confirm the UTI and the type of bacteria. In most cases, I prescribe a three-day dose of the antibiotic Macrodantin.
SELF-HELP: Along with antibiotics, take an over-the-counter bladder pain reliever like Uristat. Always urinate after sex, which can push bacteria into the urinary system. After swimming, change out of your bathing suit into dry, loose-fitting clothes. —Robert Salant, M.D., clinical associate professor, Department of Urology, NYU Langone Medical Center
a DIETITIAN says: Sugar, caffeine, and alcohol exacerbate UTI symptoms and can even invite infection by making the urinary system more acidic—the kind of environment in which E. coli thrives.
TREATMENT: While you recover from the infection, I recommend avoiding alcohol and caffeine. Instead, drink two ounces of unsweetened cranberry juice diluted in six ounces of water, twice a day. The hippuric acid in cranberries prevents bacteria from adhering to the bladder’s lining. Eat five additional daily grams of fiber, which protectively coat the bladder, until your daily fiber intake is 25 grams.
SELF-HELP: While you’re on antibiotics— and for at least two months afterward— take a probiotic supplement or eat plain, unsweetened yogurt to get at least five billion CFUs (colonyforming units) of “good” bacteria a day. Drink water with lemon or lime; both stimulate the release of sodium bicarbonate to neutralize acid in the body. —Ashley Koff, R.D., founder of Ashley Koff Approved, a nutrition evaluating service
a TCM PRACTITIONER says: According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, most UTIs are caused by damp heat (excess mucus and inflammation in the body) combined with bacteria in the urinary tract.
TREATMENT: To clear the body of damp heat, I perform 30 minutes of acupuncture on points like Liver 8 (which is just above the knee on the inner leg) and Spleen 9 (just below the knee on the inner calf). I also do tuina massage on the lower back to stimulate blood flow in the pelvic area.
SELF-HELP: Take Dianthus Formula (Ba Zheng San) at the very first sign of symptoms; it has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial herbs like rhubarb and licorice that can prevent infection. If you’re already on antibiotics for a full-blown infection, supplement with Gentiana Combination (Long Dan Xie Gan Tang) to clear painful heat from the body. Choose pills instead of tinctures, which contain irritating alcohol. —Jill Blakeway, M.Sc., L.Ac., founder and clinic director of the YinOva Center in New York City