As you get older, you're more prone to urinary tract infections because the entire genital area becomes more fragile after menopause and more susceptible to infections. The best way to fight these infections is with good hygiene. To put it delicately, that means always wipe from front to back in order to avoid getting E. coli (the most common source of infection) into your urinary system.
But an old folk remedy can help as well, according to a growing body of research. A study in the current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine has found that drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry tablets can help ward off urinary tract infections.
The study looked at data from 10 studies that compared consumers who used cranberry products with those who did not and found that there appeared to be a protective effect among those who used these products.
Other studies have tried to understand the mechanism of this and suggest that chemicals in cranberries prevent E. coli from sticking to the bladder. Instead, the germs get washed out in urine.
However, if you suspect you have a urinary tract infection, don't rely on cranberry products as a cure. The main symptoms are frequent urination, pain or burning upon urination and cloudy urine. See your doctor if these symptoms continue for more than a day. Antibiotics will clear it up quickly but an untreated infection can move into your kidneys and cause much bigger problems.