Urinary tract infections (UTI) in women are the most commonly treated urological condition. A study by the University of California showed that in 2000, urinary tract infections in women accounted for 6.8 million office visits, 1.3 million emergency room visits and 245,000 hospitalizations.
For comparison, urinary tract infections in men accounted for only 1.4 million office visits (with 424,000 emergency room visits and 121,000 hospitalizations), while enlarged prostate was the cause for 4.4 million office visits, kidney stones for 2 million visits and urinary incontinence in women for 1.1 million visits.
Antibiotics are the standard treatment for UTI, but antibiotic resistance is a growing problem. Here are some treatment options:
1) No Treatment. In a British study of uncomplicated urinary tract infection in women, 19 out of 35 (54 percent) in the placebo group improved within three days.
2) Lots of water. According to an article in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, this is a reasonable treatment by itself, but not in combination with antibiotics. Drinking large amounts of fluids produces more urine to wash out the bacteria, but it also dilutes the concentration of antibiotics in the bladder. Higher concentrations of antibiotics are generally believed to be more effective, so ask your doctor about fluid intake if you get a prescription to treat the infection.
3) Antibiotics. The first-line antibiotic treatment is trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. Some bacteria are resistant to this drug combination, and some patients get unacceptable side effects, such as nausea and vomiting or rare serious allergic reactions. Commonly-used alternatives include ciprofloxacin, nitrofurantoin, fosfomycin, cephalexin and gatifloxacin.
4) Natural products. For non-prescription options, see http://www.empowher.com/news/herarticle/2009/08/03/top-10-dietary-products-urinary-tract-health
. If you have recurring UTI, you may want to focus on preventive options, including cranberry and blueberry products.