Is Cranberry Juice Good for Overactive Bladder or Not?
Cranberry juice is a popular beverage which is well-known as a natural remedy for urinary tract infections (UTIs). This has led some people to ask whether cranberry juice is also good for other problems such as overactive bladder.
So, if you suffer from overactive bladder, is drinking cranberry juice a good idea or not? We will aim to answer this question later in the article, but first, let’s take a look at the difference between overactive bladder and UTIs.
Overactive Bladder or UTI?
Many of the symptoms of overactive bladder are similar to the symptoms of a UTI. However, the causes are very different. The symptoms that overactive bladder and UTIs have in common include:
- Needing to urinate more often than usual
- Needing to urinate suddenly and urgently
- Waking up to urinate during the night
- Finding it difficult to empty your bladder fully
However, UTIs can also cause some symptoms which are not usually seen in overactive bladder. These include:
- Sharp or burning pain when passing urine
- Abdominal or lower back pain
- Blood in the urine
- Cloudy or smelly urine
Another major difference between UTIs and overactive bladder is that UTIs tend to come on suddenly and clear up completely with treatment. Overactive bladder, on the other hand, is a long-term condition which is more difficult to manage.
How Cranberry Juice Helps with UTIs
UTIs happen when bacteria find their way into your urinary tract (urethra). The most common culprit is the bacteria E. coli.
E. coli normally lives in your intestines, but sometimes it can spread to your urethra. When this happens, E. coli bacteria stick to the lining of your urethra using a protein called adhesin. They can then spread to your bladder and kidneys if left untreated.
Cranberries can prevent this from happening as they contain a group of compounds called proanthocyanins. These chemicals have antibacterial properties and are designed to protect the cranberry plant from microbes as it grows. These chemicals can help to prevent UTIs by stopping bacteria from sticking to the urethra and spreading.
Numerous studies have confirmed the antibacterial properties of cranberries. However, in order to be effective, a fairly high dose is needed. This can cause problems for some people including stomach upsets, headaches, and increased blood sugar.
So, Is Cranberry Juice Good for Overactive Bladder?
Since cranberry juice has been shown to help prevent UTIs, you might think that it would also be good for overactive bladder. However, it seems that the opposite is true.
The problem with cranberry juice is that it is very acidic. This means that if you have an overactive bladder, it could irritate your bladder lining and aggravate your symptoms.
Cranberry juice has a diuretic effect, meaning that it could make you need to urinate more often than normal. While this might be helpful if you have a UTI, but if you have an overactive bladder it is probably the last thing you want. Therefore, cranberry juice is not the best choice of beverage for someone with an overactive bladder.
That said, cranberry juice is less acidic than citrus juices such as orange and grapefruit juice. It may also cause less irritation than drinks such as coffee and soda. So, if you have an overactive bladder and want to drink cranberry juice, a small amount should not cause too many problems.
There are also plenty of benefits to drinking cranberry juice in general. It is high in vitamin C and natural antioxidants called polyphenols. As well as being good for UTIs, cranberry juice may help to prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease and bladder cancer.
However, drinking cranberry juice can also cause some side effects. You should avoid this acidic drink if you suffer from heartburn, hiatus hernia, IBS, arthritis, or diabetes. It can also interact with certain medications including blood thinners like warfarin (Coumadin).
If you take any prescribed medication or have a long-term health condition, you should talk to your doctor to make sure drinking cranberry juice is safe for you.
Other Drinks to Avoid with Overactive Bladder
Cranberry juice can make the symptoms of overactive bladder worse. Unfortunately, it is not the only beverage that has this irritating effect. Some of the worst things to drink with an overactive bladder include:
Caffeine can irritate the lining of the bladder and has a diuretic effect. Coffee is often thought to be one of the worst drinks for overactive bladder, but caffeine is also found in tea, cola, energy drinks, and chocolate.
Like caffeine, alcohol has an irritant effect on the bladder and acts as a diuretic. Keeping your alcohol intake to a minimum is one of the best ways to keep your overactive bladder under control.
The carbon dioxide that makes soda fizzy can make your urine more acidic and irritate your bladder. Many brands of soda also contain caffeine and artificial sweeteners, both of which can aggravate an overactive bladder.
Orange juice is very acidic, as are other citrus juices such as grapefruit juice. Try drinking less acidic alternatives such as apple juice instead.
Not Drinking Enough
That’s right, not drinking enough can be just as bad for an overactive bladder as drinking too much. When you are dehydrated, your urine becomes more concentrated and can irritate your bladder easily. Aim to drink 1.5 to 2 liters of water daily to keep your kidneys and bladder functioning well.