Does cranberry juice help with a UTI? What about incontinence?

Cranberry juice often has been discussed as a way to prevent a urinary tract infection. What about for urinary incontinence? Does it really help?

If you have had a urinary tract infection (UTI), you have probably heard that cranberries can help relieve symptoms and even prevent UTIs. But, is it true? Does cranberry juice help with a UTI? And what impact does it have for women who experience incontinence?

Myth or Truth: Does Cranberry Juice or a Cranberry Supplement Treat or Prevent UTIs?

The truth is, the answer isn’t very clear. The outcomes of research studies are conflicting. Studies have found that taking cranberry supplements and/or drinking cranberry juice can help prevent UTIs in women at risk for recurring infections, but other studies show that cranberry doesn’t work for everyone. Additionally, cranberry juice doesn’t seem to help treat a UTI that you already have.

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It was once believed that cranberry juice/supplements protected against UTIs by making urine more acidic. However, it’s been shown that  a substance in cranberries, A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs), can prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract. However, many studies show that cranberry juice and supplements don’t have enough of the active ingredient to be effective with prevention of UTIs. Additionally, supplements aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so there is no labeling that shows the level of PACs in a product.

At the end of the day, cranberry may be worth trying if you experience frequent UTIs. However, if you take blood-thinning medications, you should avoid cranberry products as they can cause an adverse reaction. Cranberry juice is high in salts called oxalates that can raise the risk of kidney stones, especially if you are prone to kidney stones. If you have a condition, such as diabetes, that requires you to take medications, it’s best to talk to your doctor before starting to take any supplements.

Can Cranberry Help Incontinence and Bladder Control?

Women of all ages can experience incontinence and issues with bladder control. If cranberry can help with UTIs, can it help with other urinary issues as well?

Unfortunately, certain foods and drink can cause symptoms of urinary frequency, urge incontinence, bladder pain and urgency. Because of its acidic pH, cranberry juice can make urge incontinence symptoms worse.

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