Cranberry juice or tablets containing proanthocyanidin may or may not help reduce the risk of recurrent bladder infections for some women. Conflicting results from research studies make it difficult to know whether cranberry juice really helps or whether there's a placebo effect. As a home remedy, avoid cranberry juice if you're taking the blood-thinning medication warfarin (Coumadin). Possible interactions between cranberry juice and warfarin can lead to bleeding.
Although these preventive self-care measures aren't well-studied, doctors sometimes recommend the following for repeated bladder infections:
Apr. 25, 2012
- Drink plenty of liquids, especially water. Drinking lots of fluids is especially important if you're getting chemotherapy or radiation therapy, particularly on treatment days.
- Urinate frequently. If you feel the urge to urinate, don't delay using the toilet.
- Wipe from front to back after a bowel movement. This prevents bacteria in the anal region from spreading to the vagina and urethra.
- Take showers rather than tub baths. If you're susceptible to infections, showering rather than bathing may help prevent them.
- Gently wash the skin around the vagina and anus. Do this daily, but don't use harsh soaps or wash too vigorously. The delicate skin around these areas can become irritated.
- Empty your bladder as soon as possible after intercourse. Drink a full glass of water to help flush bacteria.
- Avoid using deodorant sprays or feminine products in the genital area. These products can irritate the urethra and bladder.
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- Brenner BM. Brenner & Rector's The Kidney. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-6193-9..C2010-1-67932-1--TOP&isbn=978-1-4160-6193-9&uniqId=321553651-265. Accessed March 26, 2012.
- Tanagho EA, et al. Smith's General Urology. 17th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2008. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=3130813. Accessed March 27, 2012.
- Gupta K, et al. International clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of acute uncomplicated cystitis and pyelonephritis in women: A 2010 update by the Infectious Disease Society of America and the European Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 2011;52:e103.
- Cranberry. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed March 27, 2012.
- Castle EP (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Phoenix, Ariz. April 11, 2012.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed April 4, 2012.