If you have ever had a urinary tract or bladder infection it’s likely you have heard the old wife’s tale of being able to cure it with cranberry juice. Is this urban legend just that, an old wife’s tale? Or is there something more to it?
Urinary and bladder infections are irritating, painful and just generally uncomfortable. The cause can often be difficult to pinpoint. For chronic sufferers, this is a highly frustrating and somewhat embarrassing health issue to deal with.
How do you know if you have a urinary tract or bladder infection? While it does take a lab and a urine sample to actually test for the presence of germs or bacteria, you can generally feel it and intuitively know when your body is not functioning properly.
Some of the symptoms can include pain or burning during urination, feeling a constant need to go to the restroom – even if you have just gone, your belly may feel tender or heavy, you may have pain in your back on one side under your ribs, in more acute or advanced cases you may also have a fever and or chills and even nausea and vomiting. The sooner you can catch it, the easier it is to treat.
Cranberries are highly recommended by experts to be taken at the first sign of bladder or kidney concerns and can often provide some relief just overnight. Part of the reason there may be so much debate as to the effectiveness of cranberries for this use is that people usually will run out and buy cranberry juice right off the shelf at the local grocery store. The problem with that is that most commercial brands these days add sugar and/or corn syrup to the juice and a lot of it at that. Sugar is a breeding ground for bacteria. So while you may be doing your body some good with the cranberry content the high sugar content is working against you. To ensure effectiveness we recommend that you go to your local health food store or organic section of the supermarket and buy natural cranberry juice with no sugar added. Don’t expect it to taste sweet like Ocean Spray. Cranberry juice in its pure form is not very sweet at all. If you don’t like the taste and can’t get past it, cranberry is also sold in capsule form.
What is in cranberries that assist in urinary function?
Cranberries contain 2 bioactive compounds with anti-adherence properties, which prevent bacteria from attaching to the urinary tract and bladder walls. Dozens of clinical trials have been performed to test the effectiveness of the cranberry on this type of infection. It has been found that on average the rate of effectiveness was 75% to 80%.
When drinking cranberry juice you are also drinking it for water content. The more water you can drink, the better (within reason of course) as you are trying to flush out your system as well as absorb the bioactive compounds in the cranberry. So drink as much as you feel comfortable drinking. It should help alleviate your symptoms and in most cases, the infection itself, though it may take a few days. This method of treatment is most effective when you start taking cranberry within the first day of the onset of symptoms. If you weren’t quite so lucky and your infection has progressed past the annoyance stage to outright pain, or vomiting and fever and chills you may want to consider seeing your doctor as the infection may be too strong and require antibiotics.
If you do suffer from chronic infections taking cranberry as a supplement to your daily diet is suggested and can help ward off future infections.
For more great health advice check back regularly or make an appointment to visit Dr. Kaster in person. 239-332-2555.
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