Cranberry juice likely won’t help prostatitis

Tribune Media Services

DEAR MAYO CLINIC: Cranberry juice is often touted as good for people who are dealing with urinary tract infections. But recently I was told that it is not true for men with prostatitis. What’s the latest research on this?

Some studies have shown that cranberry juice can help prevent urinary tract infections. But, you’re correct that it probably won’t help with prostatitis.

Cranberry juice works as a mild antiseptic. When you drink cranberry juice, its antiseptic properties are passed into your urine, and they help stop the growth of bacteria in the bladder, kidneys and other parts of the urinary tract. Cranberry juice seems to work by preventing bacteria from sticking to cells that line the urinary tract.

Prostatitis is an inflammation or infection of the prostate gland — the walnut-size organ just below a man’s bladder that produces semen, the fluid that sustains and transports sperm. The prostate isn’t part of the urinary tract, so urine doesn’t get into prostate tissue and cranberry juice’s antiseptic properties have no opportunity to work there.


Symptoms of prostatitis include fever and chills, a flu-like feeling, pain in the prostate, lower back or groin areas, and painful ejaculation. Some men with prostatitis also have urinary problems, such as urgency and increased frequency, difficulty or pain with urination, an inability to empty the bladder completely, and blood-tinged urine. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has classified prostatitis into four categories:

• Acute bacterial prostatitis

• Chronic bacterial prostatitis

• Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome

• Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis

Bacterial prostatitis, cited in the first two categories, is usually treated with a course of antibiotics. Treatment for nonbacterial prostatitis mainly involves relieving symptoms.

If you’re having problems urinating, your doctor also may prescribe a medicine called an alpha-blocker. This medication helps relax the bladder neck and the muscle fibers where your prostate joins the bladder. The goal is to ease any difficulty with urination and empty the bladder more completely. In some cases, a stool softener may also help.

If you have nonbacterial prostatitis, or symptoms of bacterial prostatitis persist despite treatment with an antibiotic, tell your doctor. Other treatment options include medication, such as pain relievers and muscle relaxants; physical therapy to teach pelvic relaxation techniques; and self care that includes drinking plenty of water and taking hot baths. In addition, limiting or avoiding caffeine, spicy foods and alcohol helps the symptoms of prostatitis. Finally, try to avoid activities that irritate the prostate, like bicycle, motorcycle or horseback riding. — Robert McLaren, M.D., Urology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester.


Readers: In the days before a scheduled colonoscopy, prepare for the exam by avoiding red, orange and purple foods and beverages, which can look like blood during the screening.

Ask ahead about taking regular medications. For instance, if you take insulin, ask about special instructions to help prevent hypoglycemia. If you regularly take aspirin, ask your colonoscopy doctor if discontinuing aspirin before your test may be worthwhile and, if so, for how long. Talk with your primary care provider if you take an anticoagulation drug such as warfarin (Coumadin) or clopidogrel (Plavix), as frequently these must be discontinued or monitored before a colonoscopy. Stop taking oral iron supplements at least five days before the procedure.

To help gear up your digestive tract for cleansing:

• Lighten your diet — Avoid high-fiber food for two to three days before your preparation day. Reduce portions.

• Stock up on clear liquids — A clear diet is recommended for 24 hours before a colonoscopy. Good choices include water, clear broth, fruit juices without pulp, and clear, colorless sodas.

• Serve it cold — You may find the colon prep solution more drinkable if it’s cold. Prepare it according to directions.

• It also may help to suck on a lemon slice or hard candy after drinking the solution. — Adapted from the Mayo Clinic Health Letter

E-mail a question to or write: Medical Edge from Mayo Clinic, c/o TMS, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, N.Y., 14207.

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