One in three women will experience a urinary tract infection (UTI) in their lifetime and if you have ever had one, you’ll know they are not fun!
Urinary tract infections are caused by germs, usually bacteria that enter the urethra and then the bladder. This can lead to infection, most commonly in the bladder itself, which can spread to the kidneys.
What are the symptoms?
• Cloudy or bloody urine, which may have a foul or strong odor
• Low fever (not everyone will have a fever)
• Pain or burning with urination
• Pressure or cramping in the lower abdomen (usually middle) or back
• Strong need to urinate often, even right after the bladder has been emptied
If the infection spreads to your kidneys it can be quite serious so you need to get to a doctor ASAP for some antibiotics.
The best cure, though, is always prevention so how can you make sure ensure you don’t get that stingy feeling down there?
Tips for reducing the risk of UTI
• Drink plenty of fluid, including a glass of cranberry juice each day
• Urinate immediately after sex
• Avoid spermicide products
• Choose cotton underwear over nylon
• Limit acidic foods, especially those that contain caffeine or alcohol
Cranberries naturally contain phytochemicals called proanthocyanidins (PACs) which prevent bacteria from attaching to the walls of the bladder. It is this anti-adhesion effect that makes cranberries so unique. While other fruits such as grapes and green tea contain PACs, the unique structure of the cranberry means it’s one of a few fruits that offer this additional anti-adhesion benefit.
Dr Tim Mathew, Medical Director of Kidney Health Australia, notes that along with urinating immediately after sex, cranberries have been shown to be effective in the prevention of UTIs for women prone to recurrent infections.
“Studies have shown that cranberries may be effective in UTI prevention as they contain unique compounds known as proanthocyanidins (PACs), which inhibit bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract wall,” said Dr Mathew.
Regular consumption of fresh dried cranberries or other cranberry products can reduce the risk of UTIs by as much as 50 percent. Studies have shown 250ml of cranberry drink a day (with minimum 25% cranberry juice content) is often enough to prevent UTIs.