Cranberry consumption can reduce urinary tract infections

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Urinary tract infections (UTI) are one of the most commonly encountered bacterial infections. They can present a combination of different symptoms including a painful burning sensation when passing urine, lower abdominal pain, an unpleasant and distinct urinary odour, frequent visits to the bathroom, urgency, high temperatures, and, rarely, blood in the urine*. Back pain may suggest that the infection is near the kidneys rather than the bladder. Although these symptoms can be present in any individual, they mostly occur in women, 20- 30% of whom will also experience a return of symptoms following complete recovery from a previous infection.

There are several lifestyle measures we can take to try and reduce the risks of urinary tract infections such as maintaining hygiene and consuming a sufficient volume of fluids. Anecdotal benefits of cranberry juice, tablets and fruit have been noted in many communities as a measure to reduce the risk of having a UTI. Although this should not replace medical treatment, research has also supported and demonstrated that cranberry consumption can reduce the incidence of urinary tract infections by up to 32.5% (2), with patients suffering with recurrence benefiting the most. Furthermore, it was observed that the incidence of UTIs are lower in those utilising cranberry products, irrespective of age and gender, with benefits seen in children 2-17 years old and in middle-aged men and women,  36-55 years old.

Cranberry products probably prevent the attachment of some bacteria on the urinary tract wall leading to protection. Cranberry products can be consumed to reduce incidences but once symptoms are apparent, you should see your doctor for advice and may require antibiotics.

by Dr. Abdullatif Aydın

*Persistent blood in the urine should always prompt a visit to the doctor
References:
[1]  Aydin A, Ahmed K, Zaman I, Khan MS, Dasgupta P. Recurrent urinary tract infections in women. International Urogynecology Journal. 2015 Jun: 26:795-804
[2]  Luis A, Domingues F, Pereira L. Can Cranberries Contribute to Reduce the Incidence of Urinary Tract Infections? A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis and Trial Sequential Analysis of Clinical Trials. The Journal of Urology. 2017 Sep: 198:614-21

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