Cranberry Juice May Help Avoid Urinary Infections

By Massey, Patrick B. | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 20, 2004 | Go to article overview
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Cranberry Juice May Help Avoid Urinary Infections


Massey, Patrick B., Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Patrick B. Massey, M.D.

Urinary tract infections are one of the most common bacterial infections in the United States today. To a large extent, the infections may be prevented by drinking as little as 8 ounces of juice a day.

Urinary infections can cause minor pain and burning with urination or can lead to pyelonephritis, a life-threatening kidney infection.

Ninety percent of urinary infections are caused by a single bacteria - Escherichia coli - and result in 7 million office visits, 1 million hospitalizations and an annual cost in excess of $1 billion.

At highest risk are sexually active women and those who need to catheterize themselves. In fact, catheter-associated urinary infections are one of the most common infections in the United States today.

Since the advent of antibiotics, serious illness and death from urinary infections have dramatically decreased. However, the bacteria have developed resistance to a number of antibiotics. For some patients, especially those who need to self-catheterize, bacterial resistance has become a serious concern. Although new antibiotics may help, prevention is the real answer.

The bacteria that cause urinary infections fasten themselves to the cell walls of the urinary bladder with grappling hooklike proteins called p-fimbriae. Interestingly, bacteria without p- fimbriae do not usually cause urinary infections.

Preventing p-fimbriae from binding to bladder cell walls would reduce the incidence of infections and, ultimately, bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

Nature may have given us a simple and even tasty way to prevent many urinary infections. Historically, cranberry has been used as a treatment.

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