Urine infections – is cranberry juice any good?

Urine infections in women are common and many are provoked after having sex. Typical symptoms include

  • going to the toilet more frequently to pass urine and
  • a burning sensation on passing urine.

Urine infections are often treated by doctors with antibiotics.  Adequate fluid intake to flush out the bugs is often advised.  But there are other things that you may want to try which also work. One of these is cranberry juice. Cranberries are widely grown and used as food and medicine in North America. They have long been known to be effective in the prevention of urine infections. Studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey have isolated from Cranberries compounds called proanthocyanidins which they believe stop the most common urine infection bugs (E Coli) from attaching to the lining of the bladder and multiplying.

If you’re experiencing a urine infection

  • Drink around 2 litres of fluid throughout the day.   The important word here is throughout.  Don’t drink it all in one go – because that can be dangerous.  2 litres is around 6 or 7 glasses of water.   The easiest way to drink enough fluids is to get one of those little 500ml bottles of water from the shop.   You would then be allowed four of those bottles (sipped) throughout the day.  But remember, any other fluids you take (like tea and coffee) also count towards your total fluid intake limit.
  • In addition, consider taking 300ml of cranberry juice twice a day.
  • See the GP if it is bad or doesn’t seem to be settling (it should be making a difference after 24-48 hours).

To Prevent Urine Infections…

  • If you are prone to urine infections (and providing you have been fully checked out by your GP first), you may wish to try drinking 300ml cranberry juice once a day in order to prevent infections.
  • If that doesn’t work, try taking 300ml of Cranberry juice twice a day.

There has been a study (double blind) which showed that elderly women drinking 300ml of cranberry juice a day reduced asymptomatic bacteruria by 50%. In another study involving 150 sexually active women, 40% fewer women experienced urinary infections when receiving cranberry products compared to placebo.

Remember

  • If you are on warfarin, cranberry juice can affect it, so speak to your GP first rather than trying it.
  • If you notice any blood in your urine, ALWAYS talk to your GP.
  • Remember to wipe from bottom upwards after going for a poo.
  • Try and go for a pee shortly after having sex – this can stop you getting an infection.
  • If you are prone to urine infections, try double peeing.   When you go to the toilet for a pee, after peeing wait 5 mins, and then try to pee again.  The last few dribbles that come out often harbour urine bugs.
  • If you keep getting urine infections but have never been to your GP, make an appointment to do so.
  • If you are a man who happens to be reading this page, please note that urine infections in men are NOT common.   You should definitely go and see your GP and get checked out.

 References
1. Avorn et al, Reduction of bacteruria and pyuria after ingestion of cranberry juice.  JAMA 1994; 271: 751-4
2. Howell et al, Inhibition of the adherents of P-fimbriated E Coli to uroepithelial cell surfaces by proanthocyanidin extracts from cranberries.  NEJM 1998; 339: 1085-6
3. Kontiokari et al, Randomised trial of cranberry-ligonberry juice and lactobacillus GG drink for the prevention of urinary tract infection in women.  BMJ 2001; 322: 1571-3
4. Stothers L. A randomised trial to evaluate the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of naturopathic cranberry products as prophylaxis against urinary tract infection in women.   Can J Urol 2002; 9: 1558-62
5. Howell & Foxman, Cranberry juice an adhesion of antibiotic resistant uropathogens.  JAMA 2002; 287: 3082-3 

         

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