Pain by Lynda Makara

I had a urinary tract infection and kidney stones

Some people seem to get UTIs all the time but I never do. So I was shocked when I began noticing these classic symptoms: Having to pee all the time, cloudy and foul smelling urine, discomfort when going to the bathroom. But at least I didn’t have any pain…until a few days later. Then I was hit with a gut-wrenching, unrelenting pain in my abdomen, back and side that left me nauseous and scared. Oh no, I think I have kidney stones too!

What follows is my personal story and how I chose to deal with a urinary tract infection and kidney stones. I’m the type of person who believes in trying natural remedies before resorting to things like antibiotics and prescription painkillers. And I was thrilled to find that Andrew Lessman’s Cranberry Benefts cured my UTI in a few short days.

I will start by summarizing my experience and then include a daily diary charting the pain and progress of dealing with a urinary tract infection and kidney stones. I’m going to update this periodically to report whether or not I remain free of UTIs and kidney stones.

I’m also sharing some other natural remedies for UTIs and tips that helped me manage pain without prescription drugs.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Please use your own good judgment in treating UTIs and kidney stones.

Cranberry Benefits cured my urinary tract infection

Within three days my UTI symptoms were gone

cranberry benefits for uti

Cranberry Benefits by ProCapsLabs

For the first five days I took two cranberry pills in the morning and two at night. Then I decreased the dose to two pills a day and will continue until all the pills are gone.

Andrew Lessman’s Cranberry Benefits is an all natural, standardized cranberry concentrate. There are no fillers, binders or artificial colors. Each capsule contains 400 mg of cranberry, 60 mg of vitamin C, 50 mg of calcium and 20 mg of magnesium.

The proanthocyanidins and anthocyanidins from the cranberry concentrate help regulate the pH of the urinary tract and balance the friendly flora in the bladder and kidneys.

Simply put, this supplement creates an environment that the bad bacteria just don’t like.

Cranberry Benefits capsule

Each capsule is filled with a microfine powder, making it easy to digest

cranberry benefits for uti2

Cranberry Benefits capsule

Discovering I had symptoms of a UTI and kidney stones

I started taking Cranberry Benefits 14 days after realizing I had a urinary tract infection. I only wish I had gotten them sooner, but I waited a few days before ordering.

I had been feeling like I had to go to the bathroom all the time and I noticed that my urine was cloudy and had a bad smell. There wasn’t any pain at first, it was more like a weird sensitivity while going to the bathroom. So I increased my intake of probiotics and spirulina, hoping that would help my body fight the infection.

About five days after realizing I had a UTI, I started having pain and noticed my abdomen was sore and bloated. Then the pain intensified. I had about three days of severe pain, mostly on my right side. It left me nauseous and with little appetite. I could barely stay out of the bathroom (constantly wanting to poop and pee) for those three days. That’s when I broke down and ordered these pills.

In the meantime the pain gradually disappeared on my right side. Then my left side started hurting, the day after starting with the cranberry pills. The pain only lasted for a day and has not returned.

Photo of the urinary system

Photo credit: urinary system by striatic, on Flickr

Photo credit: urinary system by striatic, on Flickr

How did I get a UTI and kidney stones

Stress, lack of sleep and not enough water contribute to UTIs/kidney stones

UTIs are caused when bad bacteria from your intestines/stools finds its way into your urinary tract. And kidney stones are caused by a concentration of minerals in the kidneys that stick together and form rocks of varying sizes. (For a more technical explanation of causes, symptoms and traditional remedies, please check out the links in this section, More information about urinary tract infections and kidney stones.)

I would also say that anyone suffering from UTIs has a compromised immune system, or not enough friendly flora in the gut. In my case I was going through a very stressful time as a caretaker to my dying mother. I was not getting enough sleep or drinking enough water. Further taxing to my immune system was being surrounded by other family members who were sick with a very nasty and long-lasting cold.

Home remedies for a UTI

At the first sign of a urinary tract infection, make sure to drink lots of water. This will dilute the bacteria and help flush it out of your system. Your kidneys will be happy too.

While I was researching and weighing my options, I came across these home remedies for curing a urinary tract infection. I did not try these as I opted to take Cranberry Benefits instead.

  1. Drink a glass of warm water with the juice from half a lemon. Make sure to immediately rinse your mouth out with plain water as the acid from the lemon juice will soften tooth enamel.
  2. A teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water is supposed to alkalinize the pH in the gut and make it less hospitable to bad bacteria

Drink lots of water when you have a UTI or kidney stones

Photo credit: Waterfalls by andyarthur, on Flickr

Photo credit: Waterfalls by andyarthur, on Flickr

Natural ways of dealing with the pain of UTI or kidney stones

I try to avoid prescription drugs and I keep my consumption of OTC painkillers to a minimum. Occasionally I took one Ibuprofen which did not always ease the pain. Here are my top four natural remedies for pain relief:

  1. The most effective natural way I found of relieving the pain from kidney stones was to take a shower. The pain would go away for up to several hours.
  2. In between showers I found that walking helped. My natural inclination was to curl up in a fetal position, but that only hurt more so I tried to keep moving.
  3. When I realized that curling myself into a ball made the pain worse, I decided to try doing the opposite. While standing up I would arch my back and stretch the other way. It seemed to help the muscles relax.
  4. I also found that rubbing my stomach would ease the pain. When I was laying down I gently massaged my poor bloated tummy.

My UTI/kidney stone diary

Day 1

I think I have a UTI. Feeling like I have to pee all the time, cloudy urine, no pain, loss of appetite. Increased my intake of probiotics and spirulina.

Day 2, 3, 4

No change in symptoms

Day 5

Slight pain, soreness and bloating, able to eat a little more

Day 7, 8, 9

Severe pain mostly on right side, bloating, constantly feeling like I have to poop and pee, slightly nauseous, no blood. Took two Ibuprofen per day, one in the morning and one at night.

Day 10

Ordered cranberry supplement. Constant pain, left me doubled over. Ibuprofen didn’t help. I tried to only take two per day. Taking a shower eased the pain, walking eased the pain, stretching out my muscles helped, rubbing my stomach eased the pain. Not much appetite. Was a little hungry but in too much pain to eat much.

Day 11

Slight pain, got worse as day wore on but not bad enough to take pain pill. Was able to exercise. By the late evening the pain was about 95% gone. Just a little soreness in back right, tenderness in stomach.

Day 12

No pain until afternoon. Took a shower and a pill and it felt better. Had to take my mom to the ER, my pain escalated and went to left side. Took two pain pills and went to bed.

Day 13

No pain at all. Still wanting to pee all the time, urine cloudy and bad smelling.

Day 14

No pain. Started cranberry pills, took two in morning, two in evening. No pain all day. Urine looks a little clearer by the end of day. Still a little bloated.

Day 15

Urine clear, no bad smell. Did not get enough sleep. Woke up with slight pain on left side. Progressively got worse by afternoon. Urine still clear. Feeling like I have to poop all day. Took two pain pills. Pain went away and didn’t come back. Took two cranberry pills in morning, two in evening.

Day 16

Got full night’s sleep. Woke up with no pain. Urine clear and no bad smell. Still taking four cranberry pills a day.

Day 17

No pain. Only six hours sleep. Worried about mom. Still taking four cranberry pills a day. Urine clear, no smell.

Day 18

No pain. Took four cranberry pills today. Stomach no longer swollen and bloated. Urine clear and no smell.

Day 19

No pain. Cut dosage of cranberry pills down to two pills. No smelly or cloudy urine.

Day 20

No pain. No more weird sensitivity. Took two cranberry pills.

Update: February 3, 2013

It’s been 18 days since my last diary entry. I continued to take two Cranberry Benefits each day and have remained symptom free. I’ve been very good about drinking lots of water every day, but stress management has been more difficult due to the death of my mother. I’m not sleeping enough and I’m still exposed to this lingering cold the people around me have. As a precaution I’ve decided to resume taking four cranberry pills a day until my stress levels and sleep patterns return to normal.

After my supply of cranberry pills runs out, I’ll see if I remain symptom free. I’ll do another update later.

Update: September 1, 2013

It’s been a few months since my last update. During that time I continued to take Cranberry Benefits on and off, hoping that I could just stop taking it at some point. Any time I went a few weeks without it, I began noticing the first signs of a possible UTI, such as feeling like I have to go all the time and having weird sensations in the urinary tract.

I don’t know if the reason for that is ongoing stress (the death of my mother followed by the illness and death of my dog) or if it’s just one of those fun little things that happens to you in your late 50s. Whatever the reason, as long as I take one pill a day I feel fine and have no symptoms at all.

Maybe there will come a time when I can stop taking them. I’m not feeling so stressed anymore and I have a new little doggy companion who’s brought a lot of joy into my life. But for now I have peace of mind knowing that I’m well stocked with Cranberry Benefits.

Update: February 2, 2014

It’s been over a year now since my painful experience. I’ve learned that lack of hormones from being postmenopausal increases the likelihood of getting a UTI. So at least makes sense as to why this happened when it never did before.

Since my last update in September 2013, things have been going well. I’ve maintained my urinary tract health by only taking three pills a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) which keeps the cost down. Of course I’ve been trying to stay hydrated and get enough sleep.

The stress of the past year has calmed down and I’m getting back into a normal rhythm with my new dog and my new life.

More information about urinary tract infections and kidney stones

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