An estimated 4 in 10 women, as well as 1 in 8 men, will experience at least one urinary tract infection. Given the level of discomfort and disruption that UTIs can bring, relieving the symptoms is a priority. Baking soda for UTIs is commonly suggested as an ideal solution.
But does baking soda for UTI symptoms make a difference? Let’s find out.
Can a baking soda bath help with a UTI?
Baking soda is a chemical compound also known as sodium bicarbonate, which carries the formula NaHCO₃, and has been used for generations as a home remedy to treat UTIs. While scientific studies remain inconclusive about its effects, the proposed benefits are largely linked to its alkaline properties, which are believed to neutralize acidic urine. In turn, this may stop an infection from spreading to the kidneys.
Users state that baking soda for UTI home remedies can additionally reduce the painful sensations of urinating with an infection while also removing harmful bacteria allowing the body to heal itself faster. Given that UTIs occur when germs, often from the anus, find their way into the urinary tract, the concept of a baking soda bath certainly has some logic behind it.
Are there any risks?
As detailed in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics 39, up to 7% of baking
soda misuse cases are attributed to UTI home remedies, making it the third most common problem behind antacid and drug testing purposes. It should be noted that the dangers are far greater when baking soda is consumed in large undiluted quantities, yet a baking soda bath for UTI symptoms can still carry risks.
The most likely side effects are dehydration and chemical imbalances, such as electrolytes or acids, while diarrhea and nausea may also occur. Furthermore, this home remedy should be avoided by pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with high blood pressure, and anyone with diabetes.
How to prepare a baking soda bath for a UTI?
Given the risks of baking soda misuse, it is vital that you prepare the bath correctly. First and foremost, you must hydrate yourself before taking a baking soda bath. After all, even a 1-2% level of dehydration can cause significant impacts as per the Cognitive Performance and Dehydration paper. If you are already dehydrated before taking the baking soda bath for UTI, it can cause a range of side effects – most notably in relation to your urine, which is far from desired when you have a UTI.
To prepare a baking soda bath for UTI symptom relief purposes, you must first add a ¼ cup of baking soda to the bath water and make sure it has been dissolved into the water before stepping in. You should spend 10-30 minutes in the bath. After leaving the bath, you should towel dry yourself, drink some water, and use moisturizer to support your skin. The process can be completed 1-2 times per day.
Can baking soda help with a UTI in any other way?
Sodium bicarbonate can also be consumed to aid your UTI. However, as is described by the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, the potential acute toxicity from baking soda ingestion is a real threat. Therefore, you should only dissolve ½ a teaspoon of baking soda into a glass of water before drinking it. In an attempt to encourage effective results, most people consume the water-baking soda drink on an empty stomach.
When taking this approach, it is advised that you drink three cups of the water-baking soda solution throughout the day. They should be spread out over several hours.
Can baking soda make your UTI worse?
Perhaps the biggest risk for making the UTI worse is that people often take a baking soda bath instead of seeking medical care. In most cases, the home remedy should only be seen as a way to reduce the symptoms before clearing the infection through more traditional methods.
It is important to understand the type of symptomatic urinary tract infections (complicated or uncomplicated) that you have as this will influence which treatment is right for you. Acute uncomplicated infections, for example, should only require 3 days of antibiotics.
So is using baking soda for a UTI a good idea?
Baking soda baths can be seen as a potential home remedy for a single occurrence of a UTI infection, although you must pay attention to the symptoms as medical support may still be needed. Nonetheless, it is one of the most common home solutions and many people state that it does make a difference – although the evidence is largely anecdotal.
Crucially, though, you must take care not to misuse baking soda. Furthermore, over 1 in 4 women experience recurring UTIs within six months. If you fall into this category, it is essential that you investigate the situation to look for underlying health issues or triggers that are causing infections.
When to see a doctor?
While UTIs are very common, especially in women, they should not be ignored. Some infections clear by themselves, but others require treatment to prevent the threat of kidney infections or sepsis. Even if your symptoms are mild, speaking to a doctor is advised.
In the meantime, relieving symptoms with ideas like taking a baking soda bath for UTIs can help. If you experience nausea or vomiting, though, you should seek urgent care.
Get help from an online doctor
UTIs are one of many conditions that can be diagnosed via an online doctor or video consultation. DrHouse enables you to see a doctor in as little as 15 minutes delivering a fast and convenient solution from the comfort of your home. For patients who may be a little embarrassed speaking about their urinary tract, avoiding an in-person check is also advantageous.
UTIs are a very common and often minor health condition. Nonetheless, they can disrupt your life, which is why you should treat the condition ASAP. A baking soda bath for UTIs is one of several home remedies that could have a positive impact, but it can lead to potential risks too. Therefore, seeking a medical diagnosis, which will usually result in taking antibiotics is the best solution by far.
- Understanding UTIs Across the Lifespan (2016). Urology Care Foundation. Available from: https://www.urologyhealth.org/healthy-living/urologyhealth-extra/magazine-archives/summer-2016/understanding-utis-across-the-lifespan
- B Foxman, 1990. Recurring urinary tract infection: incidence and risk factors. American Journal of Public Health 80, 331_333, Available from: https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.80.3.331
- Jasmine B.L. Lee, Guy H. Neild, Urinary tract infection, Medicine, Volume 35, Issue 8, 2007, Pages 423-428, ISSN 1357-3039, Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mpmed.2007.05.009.
- Stephen H. Thomas, C.Keith Stone, Acute toxicity from baking soda ingestion, The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, Volume 12, Issue 1, 1994, Pages 57-59, ISSN 0735-6757,Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/0735-6757(94)90200-3.
- Ana Adan (2012) Cognitive Performance and Dehydration, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 31:2, 71-78, DOI: 10.1080/07315724.2012.10720011
- Al Abri, Suad & Kearney, Thomas. (2013). Baking soda misuse as a home remedy: Case experience of the California Poison Control System. Journal of clinical pharmacy and therapeutics. 39. Available from: https://www.doi.org/10.1111/jcpt.12113.
- Matt Shipman (2014). The Difference Between Baking Soda and Baking Powder. NC State University. Available from: https://news.ncsu.edu/2014/05/baking-soda-powder/
DrHouse articles are written by MDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. The contents of the DrHouse site are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.