Urinary Tract Infections: What You Should Know

Urinary Tract Infections: What You Should Know

A urinary tract infection (UTI) can affect any component of your urinary system, including the urethra, ureters, bladder, and kidneys. Typical symptoms include frequent urination, pain when peeing, and pain in your side or lower back. Most UTIs are treatable with antibiotics.

More than half of all women in the United States will have at least one urinary tract infection (UTI) in their lifetime, with a quarter having a subsequent illness. Two or more infections in six months, or three or more in a year, are considered recurrent urinary tract infections.

According to Cedars-Sinai research published in the Journal of Urology, despite the prevalence of the painful illness, women are afraid and irritated with the few treatment options. Women who took part in the study criticized their healthcare providers for failing to understand their experiences and over-prescribing antibiotics as a treatment option.

“We were inspired to undertake the study because so many women came to us feeling dismal and powerless when it came to managing their UTIs,” said main author Victoria Scott, MD, a urologist at Cedars-Female Sinai’s Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery clinic.

We were inspired to undertake the study because so many women came to us feeling dismal and powerless when it came to managing their UTIs. Many of the participants were aware of the risks of germs developing antibiotic resistance. They were also aware of the ‘collateral harm’ caused by antibiotics and the disturbance they can cause in the regular balance of good and bad bacteria throughout the body.

Victoria Scott

Researchers conducted a focus group study of 29 women who had recurring urinary tract infections to learn about gaps in their care in order to assist give patients suffering from recurrent UTIs a voice. UTIs are infections of the urinary system that can affect the kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra. The phrase “bladder infection” is most typically used to denote a bladder infection. One of the most common concerns raised by survey participants was the frequent use of antibiotics, as well as concerns about the medication’s possible detrimental and long-term effects.

“Many of the participants were aware of the risks of germs developing antibiotic resistance,” Scott explained. “They were also aware of the ‘collateral harm’ caused by antibiotics and the disturbance they can cause in the regular balance of good and bad bacteria throughout the body.”

Concerns about the medical system and inadequate research efforts to examine new non-antibiotic management options were also expressed in focus group talks.

Participants expressed dissatisfaction and animosity toward their medical providers for “dumping antibiotics” at them without providing alternate treatment and preventative choices, as well as for failing to comprehend their experience. Furthermore, several women reported seeking help from herbalists and acupuncturists, as well as peers in online forums and chatrooms.

Treatment and Prevention

Although studies demonstrate that antibiotics are frequently the most effective treatment choice for urinary tract infections, research also suggests that non-prescription procedures such as increased water intake and pain relievers such as ibuprofen can clear up to 40% of bladder infections.

Taking these procedures when UTI symptoms first appear and pee test results are awaited will help to avoid needless medicines and ensure that proper antibiotics are provided when necessary.

Drinking water, taking cranberry supplements or a low-dose antibiotic after sexual intercourse, and utilizing vaginal estrogen for postmenopausal women are all steps women can take to avoid a urinary tract infection.

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What you need to know about urinary tract infections

While many people prefer over-the-counter medications, Scott advises contacting a doctor if a fever develops or symptoms continue for more than a day, as antibiotic therapy can be critical for some infections to prevent them from spreading from the bladder to the kidneys.

“Antibiotics are great drugs that can save your life in certain situations,” Scott said. “Antibiotics are absolutely necessary in some cases, but it’s also critical for women to be educated about all of their options.”

Those who have recurring urinary tract infections should consult a specialist. Some women will benefit from a kidney ultrasound or a cystoscopy, which employs a small camera put into the urethra to provide a picture of the urethra and bladder in order to rule out anatomic abnormalities. While it is less prevalent, men can still get urinary tract infections, according to Scott.

Improving Care

Some doctors may not believe that a single episode of a urinary tract infection can have a significant impact on a patient’s life. When UTIs reoccur, they can have a significant influence on social life, employment, families, and relationships.

The study recommended that clinicians alter management tactics to suit women’s concerns, and that additional research be dedicated to enhancing non-antibiotic options for preventing and treating recurrent urinary tract infections, as well as management strategies that better empower patients.

“Unfortunately, many women blame themselves for getting UTIs. It is critical to recognize that UTIs are a very prevalent illness that should not be shamed” Scott stated. “If you have recurring UTIs, I recommend that you consult with a doctor who specializes in female pelvic care and reconstructive surgery so that you can develop tailored preventative and management techniques.”

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