Researchers at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine have found that the high level of antioxidants, proanthocyanidins (PACs), in cranberries helps treat and prevent urinary tract infections by helping to prevent certain bacteria from sticking to urinary tract walls. However, the researchers found that cranberry capsules are more effective than cranberry juice because there are more PACs in the capsules than in the juice.
In addition, the American Urological Association (AUA) released new guidelines in 2019 for urinary tract infections (UTIs) which highlights cranberry as an effective means of preventing UTIs. The new guidelines do caution that the products used in these studies may be formulated differently than what consumers can purchase.
Note: Do not drink cranberry juice if you are taking blood-thinning medication such as Coumadin/warfarin.
What is a urinary tract infection (UTI)?
While most urinary tract infections involve the lower urinary tract, which includes the urethra and bladder, it may also involve your kidneys and ureters. While more women get UTIs than men, both need to ensure that this painful condition is treated to prevent the infection from reaching the kidneys.
How are urinary tract infections treated?
Your doctor will run a few tests to diagnose your UTI. Tests may include analysis of a urine sample to see if there are red blood cells, white blood cells or bacteria in the urine. A urine culture often follows to help your doctor identify what kind of bacteria is in the urine. Patients with reoccurring infections may have a CT scan or other imaging to give the doctor a view into the urinary tract to see what is happening inside.
Common urinary tract infections are often treated with simple medications such as:
For complicated urinary tract infections, your doctor may prescribe a different medication.
How can I prevent a urinary tract infection?
If you have ever had a UTI you probably want to do anything possible to prevent the discomfort of having another. With that in mind here are some simple lifestyle tips to consider:
- Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water and urinating often helps flush bacteria out of the bladder and urinary tract.
- Wipe from front to back after a bowel movement to prevent bacteria reaching your urethra.
- Urinate and wash well after sex.
- Stop douching or using other feminine products that can cause irritation.
- Take showers instead of baths.
- Avoid tight clothing.
- Wear light cotton underwear.
- Consider taking cranberry capsule supplements.
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This article contains medical information provided to help you better understand this particular medical condition or process, and may contain information about medication often used as part of a treatment plan prescribed by a doctor. It is not intended to be used as either a diagnosis or recommendation for treatment of your particular medical situation. If you are unwell, concerned about your physical or mental state, or are experiencing symptoms you should speak with your doctor or primary health care provider. If you are in medical distress please contact emergency services (such as 911).