Cranberry juice really does help
Submitted by: Marc C. Gittelman, M.D.
Submitted on: December 16, 2008
Q: I get lost of urinary tract infections, several times a year. My doctor keeps giving me antibiotics, but my mother told me that cranberry juice will help prevent this problem with urinary tract infections. My doctor says it’s just nonsense. Is there any scientific value to using cranberry juice? I like the flavor and it seems to work.
A: Yes, there is reasonable scientific proof that cranberry extract can help prevent urinary tract infections. The rationale is that cranberries have a high acid content and that acid helps to inhibit bacterial growth along the surfaces of the urinary tract.
It is the bacteria that cause inflammation in the urethra, bladder, and kidney, which causes the irritation. When the bacteria grow and multiply they can cause the typical symptoms of a urinary tract infection — urinary frequency, urgency and burning during urination. One may also notice cloudy or foul-smelling urine and even fever if the kidneys become infected.
Quenching the fire with medications such as pyridium and antibiotics can be helpful. Prevention, however, is the best strategy.
The American Urologic Association recently released a statement that cranberries may help to prevent urinary infections. It is important to remember that there are other ways to prevent urinary infection including good sexual hygiene for both partners, urinating after sexual relations and staying well hydrated.
An occasional infection in a woman is not uncommon, but multiple infections in a year for a woman or even one infection in a man should prompt medical evaluation.