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Cranberries May Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections

Their high acid content inhibits bacterial growth, experts say

THURSDAY, Nov. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Make sure to put plenty of cranberry sauce on your plate this Thanksgiving, because it may help protect you against urinary tract infections (UTIs), according to the American Urological Association.

The high acid content in cranberries, which have long been used as a home remedy for simple UTIs, help inhibit bacterial growth along the urinary tract, the AUA said.

UTIs occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract and multiply in the urethra, causing the lining of the urethra to become red and irritated. Left unchecked, bacteria from an infection in the urethra can move deeper into the urinary tract to the bladder and kidneys. Kidney infections are dangerous and can lead to life-threatening conditions such as bacteremia (bacteria in the bloodstream) if not treated.

Each year in the United States, UTIs account for more than eight million doctor visits. UTI symptoms include painful urination, cloudy urine, a stronger urine odor than normal, or blood in the urine (hematuria). People with these symptoms should see their doctor.

The AUA also said that hematuria may also be caused by a more serious problem in the urinary tract, and anyone who notices blood in their urine should seek prompt medical attention.

While cranberries are beneficial, they may not help everyone. Other ways to prevent UTIs include proper hydration and judicious use of antibiotics prescribed by a doctor. Don't delay or refrain from urinating, and don't rush when you're urinating. That's because your risk of UTIs can be higher if you retain urine and don't completely empty your bladder, the AUA said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about urinary tract infections.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Urological Association, news release, Nov. 24, 2008

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