Myths and truths about UTIs

Sorry — cranberry juice won’t clear up your bladder infection.

The question

I have a bladder infection. If I drink enough water and cranberry juice, will it go away?

Urinary tract infections, also know as bladder infections or cystitis, are caused by bacterial contamination and infection of the normally sterile urine in the urinary bladder. These bacterial infections result in symptoms that may include a frequent and urgent need to urinate, burning while urinating, lower abdominal discomfort and blood in the urine.

Women are much more susceptible to UTIs than men because a woman’s urethra, the tube leading out from the bladder, is much shorter and thereby more subject to contamination. The cause of UTIs in women varies with age. Young girls may wipe the wrong way after a bowel movement, going from back to front and spreading excrement. The most common source of UTIs in adult women is sexual activity (sometimes nicknamed Honeymoon Cystitis). A woman may forget to urinate after having sex, and bacterial contamination from a woman’s bottom can migrate into the urethra and bladder, infecting any residual urine in the bladder. In senior men and women, incomplete emptying of the bladder may similarly result in bacterial overgrowth and infection.

To avoid getting a UTI, women must always: wipe from front to back after using the toilet, make sure to urinate immediately after sexual activity so as to flush away any bacteria and don’t “hold it in” at work or while on long car or plane trips.

Most UTIs are caused by bacteria that live in the colon, typically E. Coli, and can be effectively treated with antibiotics. A bladder anesthetic can also be prescribed or obtained over-the-counter to relieve the irritating symptoms of a UTI, but it won’t treat the infection. Drinking cranberry juice or trying to “flush out the infection” by drinking water will also not cure a bacterial UTI.

Men under 50 who experience burning while urinating are much more likely to have an STD and should consult a doctor immediately upon experiencing symptoms. For men over age 50, an enlarged prostate may prevent the bladder from fully emptying and contribute to development of a UTI.

Left untreated, cystitis may spread to the kidneys and blood stream. This systemic illness is called pyelonephritis and may result in fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, bleeding or, in severe cases when your body is overwhelmed by the bacteria, septic shock. If you experience UTI symptoms, see a doctor as soon as possible to avoid complications. Symptoms of STDs may mimic a UTI, so make sure your doctor checks you thoroughly.

— Mark Melrose, DO, is a board-certified emergency physician at Urgent Care Manhattan. E-mail him at

Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages.


Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking


K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.


Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.


Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.


Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.


Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…


Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…


2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…


NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…


Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.


Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.


Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.


Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.


Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.