14 Jun

Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)

It’s commonly said that cranberry, or drinking cranberry juice, can help prevent urinary tract infections, or UTIs. But is it true?

Urinary tract infections (UTI) or cystitis is very common and is usually caused by gut bacteria entering your lower urinary tract and bladder. It can occur in people of all ages, however women are 14 times more likely to be affected then men. This is because of the close proximity of the urethra to the anus in women, and that bacteria can move into the urinary tract more easily.

Symptoms

Symptoms of a UTI may include:

  • Needing to pee more often
  • Pain when peeing
  • Pee that looks cloudy and/or smells particularly bad
  • Needing to pee suddenly/urgently
  • Tummy pain
  • Generally feeling unwell

Upper UTIs can be more dangerous and have more complications, so keep an eye out for these more serious symptoms:

  • A fever, shivers and/or chills
  • Pain in your back or sides
  • Feeling like being sick or actually vomiting
  • Confusion and restlessness

Reduce your risk

Prevention is key, take these simple steps to reduce the risk of getting a UTI:

  • Drink plenty of water a day to maintain a pale, straw coloured urine
  • Wipe from front to back after using the toilet
  • Urinate soon after intercourse

Does cranberry juice help?

Does cranberry, or drinking cranberry juice, help with urinary tract infections, or UTIs?

Cranberry juice contains a group of chemicals which can prevent the bacteria responsible for UTIs attaching properly to tissues in the urinary tract. A review of 24 studies showed that cranberry juice does not appear to have a significant benefit in preventing UTIs and may be unacceptable to consume in the long term. Cranberry products (such as tablets or capsules) were also shown to be ineffective in preventing UTIs, possibly due to lack of potency of the ‘active ingredient’.

Cranberries are very bitter and so to make cranberry juice easy to drink, lots of sugar is added – about three teaspoons of sugar in every 100 ml. Cranberry juice also interacts with the medication warfarin – used to thin blood. So if you do decide to drink cranberry juice and are on warfarin, discuss it with your doctor first.

Treating UTIs

UTIs are usually treated with antibiotics, with symptom relief occurring within 1-2 days of the first dose being taken. It is important to make sure you complete your full course of antibiotics as prescribed. Make sure you drink plenty of water, and you can also take paracetamol to help with the pain.

Preventing recurrent UTIs

You can take preventative medicine to maintain urinary tract health and provide protection against recurrent UTIs.

The continual use of antibiotics for the prevention of recurrent UTIs is effective but may lead to antibiotic resistance, so it can be useful to look at alternative prevention strategies.

Hiprex®  is a urinary antibacterial agent that has been prescribed for almost 100 years, and unlike antibiotics, resistance does not appear to develop with continuous use. Hiprex works best when taken with vitamin C so make sure you take Hiprex and vitamin C together. Do not take Hiprex with urinary alkalinises like Ural, as they will stop Hiprex from working properly. Hiprex is a prescription medicine and now fully funded if you suffer from recurrent UTIs.

References:

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