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4 Treatment Options for Urinary Tract Infections

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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 https://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.

Up to 96 percent of urinary tract infections caused by common bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, can be cured with standard antibiotic therapy, often in less than a week. For resistant bacteria, vancomycin is an option. Keep an eye on this Web site for updates on resistant bacteria.

Litwin MS et al., “Urologic diseases in America Project: analytical methods and principal findings”, Journal of Urology 2005 Mar;173(3):933-7.

Miller LG and Tang AW, “Treatment of uncomplicated urinary tract infections in an era of increasing antimicrobial resistance”, May Clin Proc. August 2004;79(8):1048-1054.

Christiaens TC et al., “Randomised controlled trial of nitrofurantoin versus placebo in the treatment of uncomplicated urinary tract infection in adult women”, Br J Gen Pract. 2002 Sep;52(482):729-34.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.