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Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are now the second most common infection nationwide — and your risk skyrockets after menopause, when estrogen shortfalls make your bladder more vulnerable to bacterial infections. Here are five simple ways to prevent those painful flareups:
1. Outsmart E. coli with spicy burgers.
A University of California study suggests that the same E. coli bacteria that can cause food poisoning triggers 85 percent of UTIs. Luckily, just adding one to two cloves of garlic to your ground beef, salad and/or veggies — or 1 or 2 Tbs. of turmeric or curry — makes you less susceptible to UTIs. The spices kill E. coli in the digestive tract, preventing it from entering the urinary tract, scientists say.
2. Keep UTI bacteria at bay with corn silk tea.
Sipping two cups of this slightly sweet-tasting brew ($7.99, Amazon.com) daily helps flush out troublemaking E. coli bacteria before they latch onto your bladder walls. Corn silk is rich in gentle natural diuretics that also coat and protect the bladder lining, studies show.
3. Strengthen your defenses with estrogen from a vaginal ring.
Getting a low dose of estrogen via a vaginal ring, tablet or gel could cut your UTI risk 50 percent or more by strengthening the lining of the urinary tract and increasing your bladder’s production of antimicrobial compounds that destroy germs, says study coauthor Annelie Brauner, M.D.
4. Stop germs that cause UTIs with D-mannose.
Feel an infection brewing? A daily 4,000-mg. dose of D-mannose (a compound found naturally in oranges) can help. Studies show it kick-starts healing within 24 hours for 71 percent of women by coating germs so they can’t attack the bladder wall. One option: Now D-mannose Powder ($16.45, Amazon.com).
5. Kill UTI-causing bacteria with a clean tub.
And think twice about using the whirlpool bath in your hotel room. Turns out, whirlpool plumbing can be a breeding ground for bacteria that cause urinary tract infections. Got a whirlpool at home? Sterilize your bathtub by adding ½ cup of bleach and 1 Tbsp. powdered dishwasher detergent to a full tub and running it for 20 minutes. After draining the tub, run it for 20 minutes with clean water to rinse.
Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms to Watch Out For
If these symptoms don’t start to disappear within 48 hours of home treatment, see your doctor:
- A painful, burning feeling when you urinate
- A strong, frequent urge to urinate
- Uncomfortable pressure above your pubic bone
- Milky, cloudy or odd-smelling urine
This story originally appeared in the August 14, 2017 issue of Woman's World magazine.