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Urinary tract infections plague women of all ages, and as men age, they too become increasingly susceptible. UTIs, as they are commonly known, occur when bacteria infect the urinary tract. Symptoms include feeling the need to urinate despite having an empty bladder, pain or burning while peeing, frequent urination, low fever and cloudy or bloody urine.
The body can sometimes flush out an infection on its own, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but an infection may cause discomfort and could spread to the kidneys, becoming serious.
Among nursing home residents, UTIs are the most commonly diagnosed infection. Still, its a difficult diagnosis to make since bacteria in the urine can come without symptoms. Research has showed that up to half of all women living in nursing homes test positive for bacteriuria, or bacteria in the urine, even if they dont experience symptoms of an infection. Pyuria is present in 90% of residents with bacteriuria.
To treat infections, doctors usually prescribe antibiotics. Yet the germs causing these infections are becoming less susceptible to these drugs, and infections do not always go away easily.
One of the first studies that showed that cranberry juice was effective in older women living in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities was published in 1994, Juthani-Mehta said.
Does Cranberry Juice Help Treat Utis Myth Vs Science
If you get frequent urinary tract infections , youve probably been told to drink cranberry juice and that its effective at preventing and treating these uncomfortable infections.
But is cranberry juice truly helpful for people with UTIs? And does adding cranberry juice to your diet help reduce the risk of a UTI?
This article explains everything you need to know about cranberry juice and UTIs to help you separate the myths from the science.
Is One Type Of Cranberry Juice Better Than Another For Uti
No one type of cranberry juice is the best for UTI prevention, but it is important to be mindful of the ingredients list.
Pure cranberry juice is extremely bitter and practically undrinkable, so the kind you buy at the store is usually diluted quite a bit. And the more pure your cranberry juice, the more likely you are to get a health benefit.
Be mindful of the sugar content too. Most store-bought cranberry juices contain high amounts of added sugars, and the FDA recommends a maximum of about 50 grams of added sugars per day.
In other words, you wont be doing your body any favors by chugging three glasses of sweetened cranberry juice cocktail each night .
Some drug stores also sell cranberry supplements or cranberry capsules for UTI prevention, but these arent typically regulated by the FDA, so youll have to vet them yourself.
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Can It Help Prevent Or Treat Utis
The first line of treatment for a urinary tract infection is antibiotics. However, some people may take cranberry supplements or drink cranberry juice to reduce their risk of developing one. Research is conflicted about whether cranberry juice is an effective method of treatment or prevention.
UTIs occur when bacteria enter the urethra and infect the urinary tract. The urinary tract includes the urethra, bladder, ureter, and kidney. UTIs are common in females, infants, and older adults.
According to a 2017 article, 1 in 3 females will experience a UTI by the time they are 24 years old.
Most UTIs resolve within 12 days of taking antibiotics. However, a UTI could cause serious health issues without treatment, including kidney infection and sepsis. Sepsis is a very serious condition that can lead to organ failure and death.
This article takes a look at how drinking cranberry juice may play a part in preventing UTIs and highlights some other evidence-based home remedies and treatment methods.
Many people drink cranberry juice in the hopes of preventing a UTI from developing. However, the Office on Womens Health states that the efficacy of cranberry juice for preventing UTIs has had conflicting results.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, raw cranberries contain antioxidant proanthocyanidins, or PACs, that can prevent bacteria from attaching to the walls of the urinary tract.
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K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
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How Cranberry Juice Treats Urinary Tract Infections
A mixture of cranberry juice, water, and sweeteners found in cranberry juice cocktail was used for the study because it is the most popular cranberry beverage. The researchers discovered that in petri dishes, cranberry metabolites in the juice prevented E. coli from sticking to other bacteria, limiting its ability to grow and multiply. If E. coli is able to connect with other bacteria, such as the bacteria found in the urinary tract, it forms a layer or “biofilm.” This allows the bacteria to multiply and produce an infection.
“A number of controlled clinical trials — these are carefully designed and conducted scientific studies done in humans — have concluded that cranberry juice really is effective for preventing urinary tract infections,” says study researcher Terri Anne Camesano, PhD, in a news release. “That has important implications, considering the size of the problem and the health care costs involved.”
Urinary tract infections are more common among women than men. According to the researchers, one in three women has had a urinary tract infection.
Urinary tract infections can occur anywhere along the urinary tract, which includes the bladder, urethra, and ureter. These infections account for 8 million trips to the doctor’s office every year and cost more than $1.6 billion to treat.
Cranberry Juice For A Uti: Does It Really Work
Maybe you’re looking for a way to avoid taking antibiotics. Or maybe you just want to take some sort of immediate action to relieve your symptoms as you wait to see your doctor.
Regardless, how might cranberry juice be of use against UTIs?
For starters, the bad news is that cranberry products likely don’t help with a UTI once it’s already developed. No studies have shown that drinking cranberry juice or taking a cranberry supplement actually works to treat UTIs. Darn. This means you need to visit your doctor if you already have an infection.
As for whether cranberries can prevent a UTI from developing in the first place, the evidence is mixed, and the exact mechanism by which they might help isn’t totally clear either.
One prominent theory is that a substance in cranberries, called proanthocyanidins, might help prevent UTI-causing bacteria from sticking to the walls of the bladder and other urinary tract linings. If bacteria can’t stick, they’re likely to get flushed away the next time you use the bathroom instead. Infection averted.
Makes sense in theory, but what about in practice? Is cranberry juice really an effective way to prevent a UTI? Some studies show a small benefit, while most show none at all.
For instance, a review of 24 large studies investigating cranberry products for UTIs concluded that neither juice nor supplements significantly reduce a person’s risk of experiencing an infection.
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Cranberry Capsules Reduce The Prevalence Of Uti
The team studied 160 patients aged 23-88 years who were undergoing elective gynecological surgery between 2011-2013. Normally, 10-64% of women undergoing this kind of surgery will develop a UTI following the removal of the catheter.
Half of the patients received two cranberry juice capsules twice daily the equivalent in strength to two 8-ounce servings of cranberry juice for 6 weeks after surgery. The others took a placebo.
Cranberry capsules lowered the risk of UTIs by 50%. In the cranberry treatment group, 19% of patients developed a UTI, compared with 38% of the placebo group.
So, how does it work? For a UTI to occur, bacteria must adhere to and invade the lining of the bladder. Cranberries contain A-type proanthocyanidins , which interfere with the bacterias ability to the bladder wall, reducing the likelihood of infection.
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At the end of the day, cranberry may be worth trying if you experience frequent UTIs. However, if you take blood-thinning medications, you should avoid cranberry products as they can cause an adverse reaction. Cranberry juice is high in salts called oxalates that can raise the risk of kidney stones, especially if you are prone to kidney stones. If you have a condition, such as diabetes, that requires you to take medications, its best to talk to your doctor before starting to take any supplements.
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But What About Cranberry Juice Can It Really Help
Cranberries, and in turn cranberry juice, contain a group of chemicals called proanthocyanidins . These can prevent the bacteria responsible for UTIs attaching properly to tissues in the urinary tract. If the bacteria cant attach properly then they cannot grow and cause the infection. However there are mixed opinions on whether or not it works in preventing UTIs. Some studies have shown some small benefits to healthy, non-pregnant, women who suffer from repeated infections while others have showed no benefit at all. Interestingly, there was a large number of drop-out in some of these studies due to volunteers finding it difficult to consume so much cranberry juice!
This is where the problem with cranberry juice can lie. Cranberries are very bitter and so to make cranberry juice easy to drink, lots of sugar is added about three teaspoons of sugar in every 100 ml! This means with a typical 300 mL glass of cranberry juice you would have had more than your recommended intake of sugar for the day!
If you suffer from repeated urinary tract infections, you might want to consider a low dose of antibiotics Hiprex is used commonly in the UK to prevent repeated infections. Discuss it with your doctor and look at trying to prevent infections by following the steps outlined above.
Cranberry Juice Will Not Do The Trick
However, the researchers point out that since a cranberry capsule provides the equivalent of 8 ounces of cranberry juice, a patient would need a lot of pure cranberry to prevent an infection.
Dr. Boone explains: It takes an extremely large concentration of cranberry to prevent bacterial adhesion. This amount of concentration is not found in the juices we drink. Theres a possibility it was stronger back in our grandparents day, but definitely not in modern times.
Cranberry juice, especially the juice concentrates you find at the grocery store, will not treat a UTI or bladder infection. It can offer more hydration and possibly wash bacteria from your body more effectively, but the active ingredient in cranberry is long gone by the time it reaches your bladder.
He also cautions that a UTI and an overactive bladder may show similar symptoms, and people should seek medical advice if any adverse symptoms appear, to prevent UTIs from developing into kidney infections.
Treatment of UTIs can be complicated. Approximately 20-30% of women have recurring UTIs, and concerns about antibiotic resistance mean that both doctors and patients may be unwilling to use such medication.
Dr. Boone points out that there are many benefits of probiotics, although more research is still needed.
Our Knowledge Center article features more information about the health benefits of cranberries.
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Cranberry Juice For Utis
There is no real scientific cranberry juice UTI evidence although it is often used for a UTI treatment without antibiotics .
An article published by the Cleveland Clinic argues that drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry supplements to cure a UTI probably doesn’t help. Cranberries contain an active ingredient, A-type proanthocyanidins this can help prevent adherence of bacteria to the bladder wall. But the article cites urologist Courtenay Moore, MD, who says there is not enough of this active ingredient in juice or supplements to prevent or heal UTIs.
The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health also states that there is no evidence that cranberry can cure a UTI. But if you wish to try it, the school recommends drinking pure cranberry juice rather than one with added sugar. It mentions that drinking a cranberry juice blend will have no more effect on the UTI than drinking another type of fruit juice.
A Harvard University Health Letter reports that the evidence about whether cranberry juice helps prevent UTIs is mixed, noting that many commercially available cranberry juices may be high in added sugar and calories.
Drinking pure cranberry juice is generally considered to be safe, the NCCIH shows, although drinking it in large amounts could cause an upset stomach and may over time increase the risk of kidney stones. Large doses of cranberry may alter levels of warfarin, an anticoagulant .
How To Prevent Utis
Despite the lack of effectiveness of cranberries, there are things you can do to help prevent a urinary tract infection:
- Drink water. Hydrating with about two liters of water a day will help to flush the urinary tract, prevent infection and also is the most important way to prevent kidney stones.
- Practice good hygiene. Women should wipe front to back after urinating and a bowel movement.
- Urinate after sex. Urinating will help flush the lower part of the urinary tract.
Although cranberries are not effective in preventing or treating urinary tract infections, they are tasty, have antioxidant properties and are always a great compliment to holiday dinners!
If you are experiencing symptoms of a UTI, your primary care doctor can help.
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Why Cranberry Juice Works
From my understanding, it creates a slick membrane on the bladders wall surface that makes it difficult for the Bacteria that are responsible for UTI to stick too in effect flushing them out. It really does work and in about 8 hours, for mild or even moderate infection.
The earlier you catch it the better. Just keep drinking cranberry juice with lots of water in between to flush out the bladder.
Know What Youre Getting
Theres no harm in drinking cranberry juice regularly to ward off UTIs theres just no guarantee itll work. However, do make sure youre drinking 100% cranberry juice and not a cocktail, which is mostly grape juice, apple juice, and sugar.
Cranberry juice does pad your diet with extra calories. Even unsweetened, 100% cranberry juice contains 116 calories per cup. That might not seem like a lot, but if you add it without trimming an equal number of calories elsewhere, it could lead you to gain about a pound every month.
If you opt for cranberry supplements, know that the US Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate them. That means you cant be sure how much active ingredient each dose contains.
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