Does Cranberry Juice Treat Kidney Infection?

Kidney infections, which are an upper urinary tract infection medically referred to as pyelonephritis, are a common occurrence in women, people with spinal cord injuries and older adults, and is medically treated with an antibiotic (see reference 1 under background para 1, under II.What Is the Treatment for Acute Pyelonephritis?, reference 2 under Practice Pointers para 2). While in years past, cranberry juice was often recommended as a form of treatment or prevention for kidney infections, research indicates that it may not be an effective remedy for the condition.

Cranberry Juice and Kidney Infections

It was believed that cranberry juice helped treat and prevent kidney infections by altering the acidity of the urine or by preventing the bacteria from adhering to the cells in your bladder (see reference 2 under Practice Pointers para 1). According to a December 2013 report by the American Academy of Family Physicians published in "American Family Physician," several clinical trials have been conducted on the use of cranberry juice for the treatment of urinary tract infections and have found it to be ineffective in managing the illness (see reference 2 under Practice Pointers para 2). This report follows a 2008 report published by the same organization that recommended the opposite (see reference 2 under practice pointers para 2).

When to Call Your Doctor

Drinking cranberry juice may not help your condition, but it's an acceptable juice to include in your diet. However, contact your doctor immediately if you're having abdominal or back pain, fever, frequent urination or the feeling of constantly needing to urinate, pain while urinating, blood in your urine or urine that smells bad to receive the appropriate care and medical treatment. If left untreated a kidney infection can be life-threatening.