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Drinking Cranberry Juice Doesn't Help Relieve Urinary Infection Symptoms, Say New U.K. Health Draft Guidelines

Put down the supplements.
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Getting a urinary tract infection (UTI) can be one of the most painful health experiences in a person's — usually a woman's — life.

Consider the symptoms:

  • A strong urge to pee all the time
  • A burning sensation when you pee
  • Passing small amounts of urine
  • Blood in urine
  • Pelvic pain

Not to mention, you have to deal with that unbearable, uncomfortable sensation while you're at work/taking care of the kids/travelling/commuting somewhere and holy shit where's the closest bathroom?

Most of us who've had the pleasure of having a UTI have been told by someone (hello, well-meaning friend!) to drink cranberry juice to help us feel better, however new draft guidelines from U.K. health body the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) say cranberry actually does nothing to help treat symptoms.

According to the NICE, there isn't enough evidence to recommend cranberry products, including juices and tablets, as a form of UTI treatment — noting in their draft that the evidence is "inconclusive." Rather, they recommend drinking lots of water or fluids (but not coffee, alcohol, pop, or anything that contains caffeine) and taking painkillers.

"The evidence showed that these [cranberry] products were not effective in reducing the risk of recurrent UTI in different populations (non-pregnant women, pregnant women, elderly men and women, and children)," the draft stated.

Nicolette Neish

The guidelines were released to help healthcare professionals treat patients with UTIs more effectively, and debunk myths surrounding homemade treatments.

The NICE says physicians should conduct a thorough check of patients' symptoms before prescribing antibiotics, which can treat the symptoms of UTIs.

"We recognized that the majority of UTIs will require antibiotic treatment, but we need to be smarter with our use of these medicines," said Prof. Mark Baker, director for the centre of guidelines at NICE.

"Our new guidance will help healthcare professionals to optimize their use of antibiotics.

"This will help to protect these vital medicines and ensure that no one experiences side effects from a treatment they do not need," he added.

Although antibiotics can be effective in treating UTIs, overuse, or being prescribed the wrong medication, can increase a person's likelihood of becoming resistant to antibiotics, Pubic Health England notes.

So, aside from drinking lots of water every day and taking antibiotics, what else can you do to prevent and/or treat UTIs?

For starters, if you're having sex, recommends going pee before and after you do the deed. One of the ways we get UTIs is because sex can cause bacteria to move from the vagina into the urethra, and urinating can help flush out that bacteria.

The website also notes that if you have to go pee, don't hold it in, as the stagnate fluid that sits in your bladder could cause an infection. Other methods of prevention include wiping from front to back, and avoid douching.

If you find that you're having recurring UTIs however, your doctor may prescribe low-level antibiotics, which could last six months or longer, or be taken after you have sex.

The Mayo Clinic notes that although there's little evidence to show that cranberry products work in treating symptoms, if you feel that they do work for you, there's no harm in gulping down a glass of juice or taking a supplement.

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