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  askdrmark@metro.us.

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



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…

Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Local

Bushwick community space offers activists a place to…

A new Bushwick community space offers community activists to meet, create, learn and throw back a few cold ones. MayDay, located 214 Starr Street in Bushwick,…

Local

Activists gearing up for Sunday's "historic" People's Climate…

If all goes according to plan, more than 100,000 people will gather near Central Park West on Sunday morning and march through midtown to raise…

Movies

Review: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem' is better…

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Zero Theorem," concerns a reclusive malcontent (Christoph Waltz) struggling with the search for the meaning of life.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and a being called Emily get…

Esperanza Spalding is about to spiral off in a brand new direction that may or may include an alter ego named Emily.

Movies

Review: Bickering family dramedy 'This is Where I…

A talented cast sits Shiva in the bickering family dramedy "This is Where I Leave You," although it's more sap than yuks.

Movies

Review: Desert-walking movie 'Tracks' would be better as…

Mia Wasikowska walks 1700 miles across Australia's deserts in "Tracks," in a story that defies triumph-of-the-spirit cliches but gets some of them anyway.

NFL

J.J. Watt poses unique challenges to struggling Giants…

Watt, arguably the best defensive player in the league, is the leader of a surprising Texans (2-0) team that has already matched last season’s win total.

NFL

Eric Decker 'unlikely to play' against Bears: Source

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker's status for Monday night’s game against the Bears is in doubt after he missed practice again Wednesday.

NFL

Preston Parker, not Odell Beckham, will replace Jerrel…

Tom Coughlin noted the next man up will be unheralded veteran Preston Parker.

NFL

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…