(Natural News) Extensive research on cranberry juice shows that it is an effective treatment for symptoms of urinary tract infections (UTIs). Although cranberry juice cannot cure UTIs completely, it does help prevent the recurrence of infection.
UTI: Causes, symptoms and risk factors
A UTI is one of the most common types of infections. It is typically caused by bacteria, but it can also be caused by fungi and viruses in some cases. Contrary to popular belief, UTIs can happen anywhere in the urinary tract, which includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. But most mild cases of UTI tend to affect the urethra (urethritis) and bladder (cystitis) only. When it occurs in the kidneys (pyelonephritis) and ureter, the UTI is usually more severe.
A vast majority of UTI cases are caused by Escherichia coli, which are typically found in the gastrointestinal tract. Other bacteria that can cause UTIs include chlamydia and mycoplasma, but these tend to infect the urethra only and not the bladder. However, UTIs can also be caused by unprotected sexual intercourse, genital problems, pregnancy complications, poor personal hygiene, bowel incontinence, kidney stones, spermicides and structural problems in the urinary tract.
Symptoms of UTIs vary depending on the location of the infection. If a UTI occurs in the lower urinary tract, which includes the urethra and the bladder, symptoms include:
- Painful sensation while urinating
- Frequent urination despite an empty bladder
- Bloody or cloudy urine
- Abdominal cramps
- Pelvic pain (women)
- Rectal pain (men)
On the other hand, a UTI that occurs in the upper urinary tract, which includes the kidneys and ureters, tends to cause the following symptoms:
- Lower and upper back pain
Infants, toddlers and children may not be able to notice symptoms of a UTI, so watch out for cloudy or smelly urine. Although most cases of UTI are mild and treatable, the ones that occur in the upper urinary tract can develop into serious conditions, such as urosepsis. This complication occurs when bacteria from an infected kidney leech into the blood and cause blood pressure to drop.
The goodness of cranberry juice
Since UTIs are bacterial infections, physicians typically prescribe antibiotics for treatment. However, antibiotics often cause adverse side effects like allergic reactions, vaginal infections, nausea, diarrhea, rashes, headaches and liver damage. Dependence on antibiotics can also create antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains in the future. (Related: Study: Cranberry extract can help stop antibiotic resistance.)
Fortunately, cranberry juice has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects against bacterial infections. Antioxidants also help clear out infections quickly, which allows the body to recover.
Currently, there is no set guideline on how much cranberry juice you should drink if you want to treat a UTI. Even randomized controlled trials that used cranberry juice varied in terms of dosage. Still, as per most recommendations, drink 400 mL of at least 25 percent pure cranberry juice every day.
How to prevent the recurrence of a UTI
Although treatable, a UTI can cause severe discomfort, pain and irritation. To avoid a UTI, observe the following precautionary measures:
- Drink six to eight glasses of water every day
- Don’t hold urine for long periods
- Wipe genitals from front to back
- Limit caffeine intake and avoid artificially sweetened drinks
- Don’t use irritants like perfume, deodorant sprays and powders on the genitals
- Use condoms to prevent transmission of bacteria, or abstain from intercourse until the infection subsides
- Always wash genitals prior to and after intercourse
- Empty the bladder immediately after intercourse
A UTI can cause mild to severe discomfort and pain for several days. But it is one of the most common bacterial infections you’re likely to encounter at some point, and it is usually no cause for concern. If you find symptoms difficult to deal with, drink cranberry juice daily or until symptoms disappear. Make sure you also drink plenty of water and urinate frequently to flush out bacteria along the urinary tract.
Visit Remedies.news for more stories on effective home remedies for UTIs.