You can opt out of contributing to the epidemic resulting from the growing resistance of certain bacterial strains to multiple antibiotics. You can also prevent harmless and beneficial bacteria–especially those in the intestinal tract which play a critical role in the absorption of nutrients from digested foods–from being killed off by antibiotics.
Urinary tract infection (UTI)–in which an estimated 50 percent of all women will develop in their lifetime and with a quarter of those women expected to have a recurring infection within six months of treatment–is subject to a host of risk factors. Thus, reaching out right away for an antibiotics prescription may not be the best way to go. Consider these nine important bits of facts from research findings on recurrent UTIs.
Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria and Chronic UTIs
Between the years 2000 and 2010, the major UTI-causing E. coli bacteria have developed in excess of five-fold resistance to ciprofloxacin, the most commonly prescribed antibiotics for UTI. This is according to the results of a study by investigators at Providence Hospital and George Washington University.
Additionally, Bactrim, the second most commonly prescribed UTI drug, has been shown to be ineffective in around one out of four cases. This growing antimicrobial resistance increases UTI recurrence, as well as drive treatment costs and the likelihood of morbidity. Researchers also conclude that both ciprofloxacin and Bactrim are no longer safe for use in the outpatient treatment of UTI.
Causes of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
1. Sexual Intercourse
UTI has long been found to be associated with sexual activity. One of the underlying reasons for this is detailed in a recent paper that appears in the journal, PLOS Pathogens.
According to researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine, bacteria called Gardnerella vaginalis, which are naturally present in the vagina, can be pushed inside the bladder during sexual intercourse and thus trigger the growth of otherwise dormant Escherichia coli bacteria, the pathogen that causes around 80 percent of UTI cases. Additionally, Gardnerella vaginalis contributes to potentially deadly kidney damage.
2. Eating of Meat
Two studies–one in 2005 by the Infectious Diseases Society Of America, the other in 2010 by researchers at McGill University–have provided strong evidence on the role of E. coli in meat and animal byproducts in causing UTIs. This means that food-borne pathogens don’t only cause gastrointestinal illnesses. The risk of ingesting antimicrobial resistant strains from livestock consistently given antibiotics in their feed also runs high.
An increase in body mass is directly proportional to an increased risk of developing a UTI, according to a study published in The Journal of Urology. Thus, obese people are more susceptible to UTI than their normal-weight counterparts.
How to Prevent Recurring or Chronic UTI
Urine disallows E. coli from attaching to the cells of the bladder, thus thwarting a crucial step that leads to full-blown urinary tract infection. According to a study that appears in mBio, the journal of the American Society for Microbiology, a non-antibiotic UTI treatment can be developed from substances naturally present in urine.
2. Drinking Water
Experts from the Infectious Diseases Society of America recommend drinking plenty of water to lower risk of developing UTI. The recommendation is especially useful for UTI-prone women. The recommended drinking water amount is equivalent to extra three pints daily. This amount has been shown to lower the risk of developing a UTI by roughly as much as 50 percent compared to women who don’t drink an additional three pints per day.
3. UTI and Older People
A paper by Thomas Finucane, MD, of the Johns Hopkins Geriatrics Center, explains why prescribing antibiotics for some UTI cases among older people may not be the safest course of action. Having bacteria detected in the urine but experiencing no symptoms, for example, does not always mean an infection that necessitates antimicrobial treatment. Microbiome studies were used by Dr. Finucane to demonstrate the pros and cons of maintaining the microorganisms naturally present in the human body.
4. Estrogen Supplements
Among postmenopausal women, estrogen supplements have been shown to help in combating UTI. The cells in the urinary tract are made stronger by estrogen. It also stimulates the body to produce its own natural antimicrobials, according to a study funded by the Swedish Research Council, ALF, Swedish Cancer Foundation, and others. Menopausal and postmenopausal women benefit from estrogen supplementation because their relatively low estrogen level puts them at an increased risk for recurring UTIs.
5. Cranberry Products
It is not the acidity of cranberry juice that alleviates UTIs but the substances called proanthocyanidins that are present in cranberries, according to a paper published in the Journal of Medicinal Food. The proanthocyanidins in cranberries prevent E. coli-causing bacteria from attaching themselves to the epithelial cells of the urinary tract. Attachment to the urinary tract is the first step for a full-blown infection.
Chronic and persistent urinary tract infections (UTI) must never be left untreated. If a bacterial pool survives inside the bladder, bacteria could spill into the bloodstream or spread to the kidneys. The latter two instances necessitate hospitalization and are potentially deadly. So, if you are a sufferer of recurring UTI, talk to a healthcare professional about the most appropriate course of action.