Are antibiotics always the right cure for UTIs? – Doctors say overtreatment is a concern…

Blog 3 - Are antibiotics always the right cure for UTIs - Doctors say overtreatment is a concern...1

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If you are a woman you will be only too familiar with the problem of urinary tract infections. If you don’t suffer yourself it’s likely that you know someone who does because more than 60% of women will suffer one or more bacterial infections in their lifetime.

Women are more prone to Cystitis and UTI’s than men. One factor that explains why, is that many infections get into the bladder via the urethra. A woman’s urethra is shorter than a mans so the theory is that bacteria travel up through this tube and attach themselves to the bladder wall resulting in a variety of painful and debilitating symptoms.

These can include a strong odour in the urine, a burning sensation while peeing and frequent urination, however in older women, or when an infection is chronic this may not be the case.  Under these circumstances, often the only outward symptom is mental confusion and fatigue.

When it comes to treating UTI symptoms, the default treatment from your doctor or medical professional will be an antibiotic prescription. 

However, due to a rise in use,  fears of increased antibiotic resistance, and problems with the quality and effectiveness of urine testing, that prescription is becoming controversial.

When deciding on how to treat a UTI,  let’s take a look at some of the challenges medical professionals (and therefore their female patients) face. 

The first hurdle is how UTI’s are identified.

 In the UK at least one-fifth of tests routinely used by doctors are ineffective and show the wrong results.  That means that one in five infections show up as negative even when an active bacterial infection is present.

This means that a substantial percentage of women visiting their GP with symptoms of a UTI, who test negative for a bacterial infection, are told they have no infection and sent home without the option of antibiotic treatment when it is needed.

To make matters even more confusing the converse is also true. 

This is because microbiology (lab-based urine tests) and urine dipsticks are not able to differentiate between asymptomatic UTI and asymptomatic bacteriuria (ASB). As you grow older, incidences of urinary tract ASB also increase.

What this means is that not all urinary tract symptoms are bacterial and therefore would not require an antibiotic.

Using antibiotics against ASB doesn’t benefit you in any way. In fact overuse and frequent use of antibiotics, particularly when not needed,  often makes matters worse.  This is because antibiotics suppress and reduce the effectiveness of your own immune system.  They foster the formation of biofilms and create ideal conditions in the bladder for bacteria and yeasts to grow unchecked.

If you’re suffering from urinary tract symptoms that are mild, don’t worry.  Your immune system will often clear up a minor, uncomplicated UTI on its own without the help of antibiotics. It is estimated that 25–42% of infections clear on their own. In these cases, it makes sense to understand which home remedies can help speed up recovery.

There are several plant-based, natural UTI remedies like the ones highlighted below you can use to reduce your symptoms and protect against future infections:

Consume probiotics

The helpful bacteria in probiotics ensure your urinary tract is healthy. Lactobacilli helps alleviate the symptoms of UTI. This probiotic is one of the best treatments for UTIs as it prevents bacteria from attaching to the urinary tract cells. It lowers the pH of your urine, making it harder for harmful bacteria to survive. Also, the presence of hydrogen peroxide in your urine due to drinking this probiotic keeps bacteria at bay, thanks to its antibacterial properties. Natural sources of healthy bacteria can be found in unpasteurized, raw fermented foods such as

  • Kefir a fermented probiotic milk drink
  • Sauerkraut
  • Tempeh
  • Kimchi
  • Miso
  • Kombucha
  • Pickles

Increase Vitamin C

Another antioxidant that is an effective urinary tract infection medicine you can rely on is vitamin C. It forms nitrogen oxides by reacting with the nitrogen in your urine, eliminating bacteria. Also, it reduces your urine pH, ensuring the environment is unfavourable to unnecessary bacteria.

If you are able to eat fruits and vegetables without irritating your symptoms you might like to eat fruits and vegetables rich in this nutrient.  Most women with UTI symptoms report that certain foods and fruits exacerbate the conditions – kiwifruit, oranges, and red peppers are common culprits and should be avoided. Cherries, pears,  blueberries, pomegranate broccoli and spinach can be soothing and helpful  

Increase fluid intake

One of the easiest home remedies for UTI is to drink adequate amounts of water regularly. Water helps your body flush out the bacteria from your bladder. It dilutes your urine ensuring you won’t find it as painful as before to pee.

 Although the official recommendation is to drink at least six, eight-ounce glasses of water every day, it varies from individual to individual. Always check with your doctor to find out how much you should consume regularly.

Take UTI natural supplements

Taking the right supplements can give your body what it needs to fight against this infection. UTI natural supplements such as D-Mannose helps kick start the urinary tract infection treatment significantly. It is a sugar found in seaweed and apples. It prevents bacteria from attaching to the cells in your urinary tract.

Hibiscus flower extract is another excellent herbal medicine as it has powerful antimicrobial properties, preventing bacteria from growing.

 Urinary tract infections can reoccur if you aren’t careful. Keep the following things in mind to prevent these types of infections:

  • Always make sure you urinate when you feel like going to the bathroom.
  • Change underwear frequently.
  • Drink adequate amounts of water regularly
  • Urinate before and after any sexual activity

After you notice the signs of UTI, treatment at the right time reduces the risk of complications. Check out our learning centre and go to our shop for bladder comfort and pain-free pee within 24 hours or less.

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Carol Anne
Carol Anne
July 10, 2021 9:38 am

Very informative article with some useful, easily actionable tips.
A key tip being drink adequate water.

July 13, 2021 12:29 am

This article is really informative, especially … “not all urinary tract symptoms are bacterial and therefore would not require an antibiotic.” We are taught in the main that antibiotics will solve the problem. Really happy I read this article. Thank you!

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This blog is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. Content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. Please consult with a physician or other healthcare professional regarding any medical or health related diagnosis or treatment options.

Information on this blog should not be considered as a substitute for advice from a healthcare professional. The claims made about specific products throughout this blog are not approved to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.  

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