Many people contend that cranberry juice helps clear up a bladder infection, but to date, science does not support the claim. Research has shown that cranberry juice is effective in staving off new bladder infections, but medical experts say if you are already showing signs of an infection, it may be time to go to the doctor.
About Cranberry Juice
Cranberry juice may help prevent infections, but it is not recommended as a means of eliminating them. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, cranberries may help prevent infection because they increase hippuric acid in the urine. Hippuric acid keeps bacteria from sticking to the bladder walls. The National Institutes of Health also recommend cranberry juice to prevent infections, but not for people who have a personal or family history of kidney stones.
Types of Bladder Infection
Treatment of bladder infection depends on its cause. According to the Mayo Clinic, most bladder infections happen when bacteria find their way into the urinary system. This is called bacterial cystitis--a painful inflammation that causes a constant or frequent need to urinate.
Doctors usually recommend antibiotics to treat the bacterial infection.
Some bladder infections happen as a reaction to medicine, radiation therapy or irritants, such as feminine hygiene products and certain forms of birth control. These infections may require alternative treatments.
If a bladder infection is bacterial, doctors usually prescribe antibiotics. These can clear an infection within a few days to a week, according to the Mayo Clinic. According to the National Institutes of Health, prescribed antibiotics for urinary tract infections (UTIs) include amoxicillin, augmentin, cephalosporin, doxycycline, nitrofurantoin, sulfa drugs, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole and quinolones.
If infections recur, your doctor may prescribe a longer round of treatment, or send you to a specialist to determine whether you have irregularities in your urinary system. Doctors sometimes recommend that women take a single dose of antibiotics after intercourse.
The other kind of bladder infection is called an interstitial infection, and it results from irritants such as radiation therapy and use of feminine hygiene products and certain birth control products. Treatment for these infections includes bladder distention (stretching the bladder by filling it with liquid or gas) and oral medicine such as pentosan polysulfate sodium. Also, a doctor might order electronic nerve stimulation, or something called a "bladder bath." In that procedure, a doctor uses a catheter to inject dimethyl sulfoxide into the bladder, and the patient retains it for about 15 minutes.
Treating Infection at Home
Most UTIs clear easily and quickly with antibiotics, but that does not mean you should take them lightly. Without proper medical treatment, they can spread to other parts of the urinary system, including the kidneys.
The Mayo Clinic recommends a few steps to ease the discomfort of a bladder infection while antibiotics do their work. First, use a heating pad over the abdomen. Remember to drink plenty of fluids (but not alcohol, caffeinated drinks or acidic juices). Also, take warm baths.