Tag Archives: e coli

Urinary tract infections may be helped by cranberry juice

Urinary tract infections are the most common type of infection in the elderly. Between one and three percent of all GP visits are because of UTIs, and half the female population will have a UTI at least once in their lifetime. Which is why researchers have been assessing the data on cranberry juice to see if it can be used to prevent the infection.

The majority of UTIs are caused by E.coli bacteria, which is found around the anus, for example, and so can relatively easily find its way into the urinary tract. Once there, the bacteria binds to the cells lining the urinary tract causing inflammation. This in turn produces symptoms including a burning sensation when urinating, and a feeling of a need to urinate.

While some infections may clear up on their own, many UTIs need to be treated with antibiotics. This is a less-than-ideal situation both for the patient and the rest of the world, what with antibiotic resistance building towards fluoroquinolones, one of the most commonly used medications as treatment for UTIs.

Cranberries

Cranberries

The new research published in Nutrition Bulletin assessed available data and confirmed that drinking 240ml of the juice each day could reduce risk of bacteria binding to cells in the urinary tract for at least eight hours afterwards. Also that recurrences of UTI a year after an infection were reduced by 35% in women who drank cranberry juice on a daily basis.


These findings are particularly important for older adults who experience different symptoms with UTIs – often they don’t have the pain during urination that younger people do – resulting in delayed treatment.

Signs to look out for in older adults include sudden changes in behaviour, ie not being able to do simple tasks that they could do the day before, confusion, as well as urinary incontinence.

Drinking plenty of water regularly is the best way to prevent UTIs, as well as good hygiene. The use of catheters also puts a person at greater risk.

Wash your hands

“Now wash your hands.” For years public health officials have relied on such well-worn exhortations to persuade the rest of us to rinse with soap.

But their pleas are often ignored. A 2011 study found that, while 95 per cent of Britons claim to wash their hands after visiting the bathroom, barely a tenth actually do.

The World Health Organisation’s new plan is to scare soap-dodgers into submission, with the release of a new series of “hand scans” designed to highlight the invisible effects of bad hygiene.

The images will leave few in any doubt, revealing disturbing levels of bacteria on unwashed fingers after a series of tasks such as cutting chicken, handling an old dishcloth or going to the toilet.

Happily, the photographs have been published alongside another set of images of showing how easily the bacteria can be removed with a simple wash in the sink.

The publicity campaign coincides with Global Handwashing Day, an international awareness campaign that aims to spread the message of how the simple act of washing your hands with soap can reduce the spread of fatal diseases including E.coli and the winter norovirus.

The spread of these illnesses poses a major threat to public health, policy makers say, asserting that soap could save more lives than any single vaccine or other form of medical intervention.

Dr Paul Cosford, Director of Health Protection at Public Health England (PHE), which has supported the campaign’s launch, said: “If we don’t wash our hands properly then just one bacterium can grow into hundreds and thousands in a relatively short space of time.

MRSA

MRSA

“These are then spread around our environment and onto other people.

“This is why it is so important that we wash our hands thoroughly particularly before preparing food, after handling raw meat and after going to the toilet.”


Failure to wash hands after visiting the toilet is thought to have fuelled the spread of recent viruses such as the winter vomiting bug, which travels from person to person through a process doctors call the “faecal-oral route”.

A study carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine three years ago revealed that more than nine out of 10 mobile phones are coated with some kind of bacteria, including E.coli and MRSA.

Peter Hoffman of PHE, added: “Just as contamination was passed from my hands to the growth surfaces in the pictures, so it could be passed from your hands to your mouth, the food that you handle or any other route of infection.

“Washing the hands using soap and water is integral to breaking the cycle of transmission of harmful bugs, whether that is in a hospital or in our own homes and everyone needs to adopt this very good habit.”

The awareness campaign comes just weeks after nurses were reminded to wash their hands in the wake of new NHS guidance warning that the levels of infection in UK hospitals are “unacceptable and avoidable”.