While it isn't the most dangerous of illnesses, even minor urinary tract infections can give the afflicted extreme discomfort, desperate to lessen the symptoms as soon as they can. UTIs are caused by bacteria, and can cause a whole list of symptoms, including pain during urination, needing to pee more often or more urgently, discolored urine, pain in the lower abdomen, or general exhaustion.
So what do you do when you're unfortunate enough to get a urinary tract infection? If you were to ask anyone what to do in that situation, it's likely that they will tell you to drink some cranberry juice to help alleviate symptoms. However, it seems our firm belief in this folk remedy may be a little misguided.
New draft guidelines in the UK, put forward by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), have revealed that this isn't as effective a solution as we may have thought. NICE claim that while many think it's a sure bet, there isn't actually enough solid evidence to recommend it.
NICE recommends that above all we drink plenty of water or fluids, and take painkillers to get through the infection. Doctors can of course prescribe antibiotics to help fight the infection, but drugs such as these are not necessary in all cases. In fact, the human body can fight off a mild infection without medication some of the time. It's only when the infection worsens that there is cause for alarm.
NICE make some further suggestions for those with UTIs regarding prescriptions. When antibiotics are needed, the shortest course that is likely to be effective should be prescribed to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance in the body. Additionally, back-up prescriptions can always be purchased in case symptoms do not improve within 48 hours, or if they significantly worsen in a short period of time.
A consultation on the draft guidelines for England, in which these notes on UTIS are included, will close on 5 June. Prof Mark Baker, director for the centre of guidelines at NICE, said:
"We recognise that the majority of UTIs will require antibiotic treatment, but we need to be smarter with our use of these medicines. Our new guidance will help healthcare professionals to optimise their use of antibiotics. This will help to protect these vital medicines and ensure that no one experiences side effects from a treatment they do not need."
Even though there may not be much behind the idea of cranberry juice curing UTIs, it apparently can help with hangovers. According to sports nutritionist Scott Baptie, the best cure for a night out is a smoothie with cranberry juice, strawberries, raspberries and yogurt.
If you want to find out the specific recipe for this rejuvenating smoothie, as well as further advice on curing post-drinking blues from professional dieticians, read this article on what you should eat and drink in order to cure your hangover.