I get asked quite often if cranberry products (tablets, juice) work to prevent urinary tract infections (UTI). The short answer: YES! Theoretically, cranberries keep bacteria from adhering to the wall of the bladder. The most common bacteria that causes an UTI is E. coli. Researchers have found that two components of a cranberry prevent E. coli from adhering to the bladder wall- fructose and proanthocyanidins. I added that last bit of info for the trivia fans out there!
A study was done using organic, unsweetened cranberry juice in 250-mL servings, cranberry tablets in 1:30 parts concentrated cranberry juice and placebo. The study found that the risk of UTI during treatment was reduced significantly in the groups taking cranberry supplementation compared to placebo. Compliance was also investigated and researchers found that compliance was lowest among women consuming cranberry juice, decreasing at times to less than 80%.
So, if you find you get UTIs 1-2 times a year, I would recommend trying cranberry pills for prevention. At the first sign of UTI symptoms; urge to urinate but little comes out, burning when you urinate and increased frequency of urination; start the cranberry pills. However, if symptoms persist or worsen in a day or two, go visit your doctor.