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Is cranberry juice effective at treating urinary tract infections?

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common problem for women. And though the first line of treatment is generally antibiotics, there has been much discussion about whether cranberry juice can also be used to prevent and treat UTIs. Tia Guster, M.D., an obstetrician and gynecologist at Piedmont Physicians Obstetrics and Gynecology in Newnan, weighs in.

Can cranberry juice prevent or cure UTIs?

The answer is yes and no, says Dr. Guster.

Research has shown that cranberries contain a substance that inhibits bacteria’s ability to function inside of the bladder. And drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry pills may be beneficial for women who have recurrent UTIs.

“I usually advise patients [with recurrent UTIs] to pick cranberry juice with as little additives, like sugar, as possible,” says Dr. Guster.

But clinical studies have not yet demonstrated the efficacy of cranberry juice in preventing or curing UTIs in women who don’t suffer from recurrent infections.

What to do if you have a UTI

Before trying any remedies for a UTI, be sure to talk with your doctor. He or she may provide recommendations for treating and preventing the infection in the first place.

“Your doctor will review self-care, post-coital voiding, and bladder irritants, behaviors and underlying medical conditions that increase your risk of infection,” says Dr. Guster.  “A urine culture should also be considered for frequent UTIs so the specific bacteria can be identified.” 

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