Dysuria is the term used to identify pain when urinating. While more common in women, men and women of any age can experience painful urination. It is most often caused by some sort of an infection like a urinary tract infection (UTI) or a sexually transmitted disease (STD), but it can also be the sign of a more serious underlying health condition like diabetes or even cancer. (1)
According to a report published in 2017 in the journal Open Forum Infectious Diseases, the number of UTIs, a major source of dysuria, increased an astounding 52 percent between 1998 and 2011. Researchers note that older patients and female populations experienced a greater increase than other populations. (2)
Another troublesome finding from the report is the dramatic increase in hospitalizations and treatment cost due to an increase in antimicrobial resistance found in treating urinary tract infection symptoms.
Often, the pain or the discomfort is described as a mild to moderate burning sensation. However, for some, the pain can be quite severe. Symptoms generally abate after dysuria treatment focuses on the underlying infection. If caused by an STD, it is vital that both partners are treated for the infection to prevent reoccurrence.
Effective natural remedies are available to help boost the immune system, fight the infection, and facilitate healing to relieve the burning, itching, pain and general discomfort of dysuria.
What Is Dysuria? Dysuria Symptoms
Dysuria is the medical term used to identify the pain or discomfort experienced while urinating. It can present mildly, or the burning, itching or pain can be quite severe. (3)
Recognized symptoms of dysuria include: (4)
- General discomfort while urinating
- A burning or stinging sensation while urinating
- An itching sensation during or after urinating
- Pain during or after urination
- For women, the discomfort can be experienced both internally and externally — external pain is generally caused by an inflammation of the skin while a urinary tract infection can cause internal pain
- Cloudy urine caused by a UTI, kidney stones, diabetes or gonorrhea
- Hematuria, or blood in the urine, can also accompany pain when urinating — it is important to see your physician if your urine is dark red, brown, pink or orange in color as tests will be needed to determine the cause
Causes and Risk Factors of Dysuria
For women, dysuria is often the result of:
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Vaginal yeast infection
- Urinary tract infection
- Inflammation of the urethra
- Sexual intercourse
- Contraceptive sponges
Dysuria in men is often caused by:
- Urinary tract infection
- Prostate disease
Dysuria in both genders may be caused by: (5)
- Bladder or kidney stones
- STDs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea and genital herpes
- Inflammation of the bladder
- Kidney infection
- Interstitial cystitis
- Certain chemotherapy drugs
- Radiation treatments to the pelvic area
In children, dysuria can occur if they have vesicoureteral reflux where the urine backflows from the bladder into the kidneys, or if there is an obstruction in the urinary tract
Risk factors include:
- Being female
- Being pregnant
- Having diabetes
- Having an enlarged prostate
- Kidney stones
- Bladder disease
- Urinary catheter
- Not using condoms and/or having multiple sexual partners
Conventional Treatment of Dysuria
Occasional discomfort while urinating is not uncommon, but it if is accompanied by other symptoms, including fever, frequent urination, back pain, abdominal pain, abnormal discharge from the vagina or urethra, or if the pain worsens, it is important to see your physician.
Diagnosing dysuria requires a physical examination, which, for women, may include a pelvic examination. A blood test and a urine test will likely be ordered to determine the cause.
Once the infection causing the dysuria has been diagnosed, treatment can begin. Conventional treatment of dysuria may include:
- Oral antibiotics for bacterial infections or STDs
- Antifungal medications for vaginal yeast infections
- Uristat, a painkiller specifically for pain related to a urinary tract infection (6)
7 Natural Treatments for Painful Urination (Dysuria)
1. Drink More Water
While it may cause an increase in urination frequency, drinking more water than you typically do may help flush out the toxins and reduce painful urination, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Recent news of contaminated water supplies, the potential dangers water bottled in plastic and city water treated with fluoride shouldn’t dissuade you from drinking fresh, clean water. If you live in an area with contaminated or questionable water, you may want to invest in a water filter system. The key is to stay hydrated by drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water every day.
Adding friendly bacteria to your system with probiotics can help fight the unfriendly bacteria and fungi that can cause dysuria. As a bonus, if you’ve been diagnosed with a urinary tract infection, STD or yeast infection and you’ve been prescribed antibiotics, probiotics can help counteract the negative side effects of these drugs. (7)
In addition to a high-quality, soil-based organisms (SBOs) probiotic supplement, when you are fighting an infection, be sure to add plenty of probiotic-rich foods to your diet. Add kefir to your post-workout smoothie, sauerkraut or kimchi to your dinner plate, a bowl of yogurt to your breakfast, or use apple cider vinegar, with the mother culture, in your salad dressings to reap the benefits of natural probiotics.
3. Clove Oil
Known for fighting intestinal parasites and candida, research shows that clove oil also inhibits both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria while boosting the immune system. In a report published in the journal Critical Reviews in Microbiology, researchers identify that eugenol, the primary compound in clove oil, shows anti-inflammatory activities and antimicrobial activity against fungi and bacteria, showing it has a broad spectrum of activity against a variety of human pathogens. (8)
If you elect to take clove oil internally, please do so while under the care of a functional medicine doctor, nutritionist or your family physician as it should not be taken for longer than two weeks or by individuals on certain blood-thinning medications or by young children.
4. Vitamin C
According to the Cleveland Clinic, vitamin C is “one of the biggest immune system boosters of all.” When fighting an infection, it is imperative that you consume vitamin C-rich foods each day and add a high-quality food-based supplement to your routine as the body doesn’t produce it or store it. (9)
If you don’t like citrus fruits, no worry! There are plenty of other fresh fruits and vegetables to add to your diet that are rich with vitamin C. Adding strawberries, kiwi, papaya, guava, pineapple and mango to your smoothies will give you a healthy boost, as will adding broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts to your meals. Enjoy raw kale in a Caesar salad, or keep kale chips nearby for afternoon snacks.
This aromatic seed is related to ginger and offers a unique sweet and floral flavor. Cardamom has been used for generations as a natural breath freshener, digestive aid and to improve circulation. It also acts as a diuretic, helping flush out toxins and retained water. In addition, research shows that it can kill certain types of bacteria, including Streptococcus mutant, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. (10, 11)
This promising seed is also now being studied for vascular function, cancer, dry mouth and nausea (12) To use as a diuretic, mix one teaspoon of cardamom powder in one cup of warm milk and drink before bed each evening. If desired, a touch of raw honey can be added to create a beautifully floral and soothing bedtime drink.
Goldenseal, used by Native Americans for generations in the treatment of colds, vaginitis, urinary tract infections and gonorrhea, naturally appears on this list for dysuria remedies. (13) It shows antimicrobial activity against both viruses and bacteria and is a natural immune system stimulant. Research shows that it may actually help prevent UTI’s by keeping bacteria from attaching to the wall of the bladder. Additionally, it may be effective against vaginitis, and it may even help lower blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetics. (14, 15)
Goldenseal, to fight an infection, should be taken at the strength of four to six grams per day by a pill, which is generally well-tolerated by most individuals. Pill supplements, tinctures and teas are available; be sure to select a high-quality natural supplement. Don’t take goldenseal for longer than three weeks, and talk to your doctor about any potential interactions with medications you are taking.
7. Oil of Oregano
Research shows that this essential oil can fight certain types of cancer, viruses, fungi and bacteria. Rich with carvacrol and thymol, oil of oregano may help your body fight the infection causing painful urination. Researchers continue to study its effects on a variety of conditions, including colon cancer, inflammation, pulmonary function and more. (16, 17)
You can use oregano oil topically for skin infections by mixing it with a carrier oil. When taking it internally, it is vital to purchase a “100 percent therapeutic grade oil” only. While fighting an infection, take three drops of oregano oil, twice a day, for 10 days. You can add oregano oil to any cold beverage or food of your choice. If you prefer, you can take 600 milligrams each day of oil of oregano in capsule form.
Dysuria or Painful Urination Prevention
As dysuria is typically caused by an infection, boosting your immune system and avoiding practices that put you at a greater risk of infection is important. This is especially true as we see more and more antibiotic resistance across the globe. Harvard Medical School recommends the following to help prevent dysuria symptoms:
- When dysuria is caused by interstitial cystitis or pyelonephritis, flushing your urinary tract by drinking fresh water can help to prevent further episodes.
- If dysuria symptoms are caused by irritation or inflammation, women should keep their genital area clean and dry. During menses, frequent changing of tampons or sanitary napkins can also help.
- Both men and women should urinate after sexual intercourse.
- For dysuria caused by an STD, all sexual partners need to complete the recommended treatment for the STD and then start to practice safe sex.
- Women should wipe from front to back after a bowel movement to keep bacteria away from the vagina.
If dysuria is caused by a sexually transmitted disease, it is important for women to complete the treatment protocol to prevent fertility problems or scarring in the reproductive tract.
When dysuria is caused by a urinary tract infection, curing the infection is vital; left untreated, certain complications, including permanent kidney damage, chronic kidney infections (pyelonephritis), urethral strictures in men and even life-threatening sepsis, may occur. (18)
Final Thoughts on Dysuria
- Dysuria is the medical term used to identify pain, burning or itching sensation, or general discomfort that accompanies urination.
- Dysuria is most often caused by some sort of infection like a UTI, bladder infection or an STD, but it can also be caused by certain medications and chemotherapy drugs.
- Conventional treatment depends on the root cause of the pain experienced while urinating but may include antibiotics, painkillers or anti-fungal medications.
- If dysuria is caused by an STD, all sexual partners need to be treated for the infection to prevent recurrence.
- The underlying infection causing the dysuria treatments must be treated as serious complications can occur without treatment including sepsis.
- The following are some natural treatment options for dysuria:
- Drink more water to help flush out the toxins and reduce pain. Aim for drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water every day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, drink at least 75 ounces of fresh, clean water every day.
- Eat probiotic-rich foods and take a high-quality SBO-based probiotic supplement daily while fighting the infection that is causing your dysuria symptoms.
- Take clove oil for no longer than two weeks while fighting an infection. Do not use clove oil if you are on blood-thinning medications.
- Eat vitamin C-rich foods and take a high-quality food-based supplement to boost your immune system while fighting an infection.
- Drink cardamom and warm milk each night before bed to help fight bacteria in your system and as a natural diuretic.
- Take four to six grams of goldenseal daily in a pill form to fight an infection, but don’t take it for longer than three weeks consecutively.
- Take three drops of therapeutic grade oregano oil twice a day for 10 days to fight the underlying infection causing the dysuria; 600 milligrams of oil of oregano in a capsule form can be used if you don’t care for the taste of the essential oil on your food.
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