Saturday, 28 March 2015

Myths surrounding UTIs and its relation to cranberries

There are several myths regarding how you can prevent or treat Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). Let us crack a few. UTIs tend to occur more in women as compared to men. Almost 60% women in the world experience UTIs at least once in their lifetime. The symptoms that they normally experience include frequent, urgent and sometimes painful urination. This is a common complaint among women.

At the top of the list is the myth regarding how taking cranberry supplements or just drinking cranberry juice might help in the prevention or treatment of UTIs.

There are however certain active ingredients like A – type proanthocyanidins present in the cranberry juice and cranberry supplements which do prevent the bacteria, especially E coli, sticking from sticking to the walls of the bladder. But many studies have shown that although these components are present in the cranberries, they aren’t present in the sufficient quantity to help in the prevention of UTI.

There are several studies that have been carried out regarding cranberries and their medicinal properties but overall there has been a very mixed response over its effectiveness.

A database in 2012, containing 24 studies has shown that cranberry juice or cranberry extracts do not have a different effect on women as compared to other antibiotics.

Since cranberry supplements are not necessarily regulated by FDA, the quantity of the active component is not exactly known. Therefore there may not be enough quantity of the active ingredient to prevent the bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary bladder.

How can you prevent UTIs
There are several myths regarding the prevention of the UTIs. These include avoiding wearing tight fitting pants, urinating after sex, drinking lots of water and also staying away from bubble baths, tampons and bubble baths. While these are widely believed, none of these are backed by any sort of scientific evidence. However there are three easy things that all women can do to help in the prevention of UTIs.

1.      Take precautions after sexual activity to prevent UTIs
The frequency of the sexual activity is strongly related to UTIs. Having multiple sexual partners or a history of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STD) will definitely put you at a greater risk of contracting UTI. If you have been contracting UTIs frequently, then doctors advise to stay away from barrier contraceptives or spermicides. They recommend a dose of oral antibiotics which can be consumed before or after having sex.

2.      Developing good bowel habits
Sometimes bacteria residing in the rectum can stray into the vagina and this in turn can cause several urinary tract infections. This happens more commonly when you are suffering from diarrhoea or constipation. So it is very important to try and be regular.

3.      Balance the bad bacteria with the good bacteria.
For women who are prone to UTIs, doctors often recommended using vaginal or oral probiotics, which are known as the good bacteria. The body requires a high percentage of the good bacteria in order to reduce the quantity of bad bacteria sticking to the walls.

All in all consuming cranberry juice or the supplements is a personal choice. They do however contain the active components required to keep you away from UTIs, although in a small quantity.

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