Living With Urinary Tract Infections
If you have 3 or more urinary tract infections each year, your doctor may want you to begin a preventive antibiotic program. A small dose of an antibiotic taken every day helps to reduce the number of infections. If sexual intercourse seems to cause infections for you, your doctor many suggest taking the antibiotic after intercourse.
Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections: The Highlights Reel
A trip to the UK resulted in a UTI the day before my 30 hour flight home to Australia. Flying with a UTI was my worst nightmare.
I managed to get a single dose antibiotic from a walk-in clinic, but was still cracking sweats by the time I got to the airport.
Armed with copious amounts of water, I requested an aisle seat, and proceeded to drink fluids nonstop. I was using the bathroom every 20 minutes, like clockwork, and by the time I landed for my stopover in Hong Kong 13 hours later, I really thought I was on top of it.
How wrong I was. I boarded my flight for Sydney, and over the next 10 hours descended into fevers, chills, shakes and a little delirium.
At Sydney airport I missed my onward flight to Melbourne and broke down at the customer service desk. I barely remember stowing my bag in a locker and wandering around looking for help.
Fortunately, I was able to find the airport doctor, who prescribed antibiotics and anti-nausea pills. He assured me I needed them, and he was right. Within the next 30 minutes I was on the verge of throwing up a new symptom of UTI for me.
I had forfeited my flight, but I didnt care. I eventually made it home to Melbourne, a full 35 hours after the start of my journey, where I passed out for 20 hours. My body was defeated.
Why Tracking Your Symptoms Can Help
Now, I dont know about you, but I love a good spreadsheet. And its amazing how much more fulfilling a health regimen can be when you plot it out, then mark off your progress daily. Feels so goooood.
I downloaded a counter on my phone to track how many days since my last UTI at the very least I would see how long I could last between episodes.
Every morning I woke up and looked at my counter. After 30 days I started to feel my first glimmer of hope. I was still getting twinges and minor symptoms, but nothing I couldnt handle.
My first milestone came around that time, when I went hiking with my partner. Without a map, without a compass, and without enough water. We got lost. We were out there for 10 hours and I was dehydrated.
But I didnt get a UTI. And I didnt even think about it until I was home safe again. That alone blew my mind. This thing that had been my focus for four years had somehow become an afterthought.
The counter kept going up. 45 days, 60 days, 90 days since a UTI. I suddenly felt like declaring myself officially healed of recurrent UTIs at the six month point might not be so far-fetched.
Sometime, around three months in, I had a relapse of symptoms and upped some elements of my regimen in response. That UTI never happened and my count remained intact.
Six months came and went and I set my sights on a year UTI free.
Amazingly, my UTI regimen also cleared up my yeast infections. Four years later, Ive not had even the slightest hint of one returning.
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Are There Any Home Remedies For A Urinary Tract Infection
The best “home remedy” for a UTI is prevention . However, although there are many “home remedies” available from websites, holistic medicine publications, and from friends and family members there is controversy about them in the medical literature as few have been adequately studied. However, a few remedies will be mentioned because there may be some positive effects from these home remedies. The reader should be aware that while reading about these remedies , they should not overlook the frequent admonition that UTIs can be dangerous. If the person does not experience relief or if his or her symptoms worsen over 1 to 2 days, the person should seek medical care. In fact, many of the articles about UTI remedies actually describe ways to reduce or prevent UTIs. Examples of home treatments that may help to prevent UTIs, that may have some impact on an ongoing infection, and that is unlikely to harm people are as follows:
There are over-the-counter tests available for detecting presumptive evidence for a UTI . These tests are easy to use and can provide a presumptive diagnosis if the test instructions are carefully followed a positive test should encourage the person to seek medical care.
Expanded Quantitative Urine Culture
Expanded Quantitative Urine Culture is a UTI testing method that is relatively new, and has been used in many recent studies around the female urinary microbiome and recurrent UTI.
EQUC uses a modified urine culture protocol, that builds on the standard concept of urine culture with some very important changes. These include using larger volumes of urine, varied atmospheric conditions for incubation and longer incubation times.
The result is that the conditions of EQUC are far superior to those of the standard urine culture.
In fact, one study that compared the two techniques found that EQUC grew bacterial species in 80% of the samples tested. In comparison, 92% of these same samples were reported as no growth using standard urine culture.
EQUC has been adopted as a UTI test method by a selection of practitioners in the USA. Were looking into where patients can access EQUC and will publish further information as we find it.
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Epithelial Cells As An Immune Response Are Overlooked
Epithelial cells are the delicate tissue that can be found lining most of the urinary tract, including the bladder. When you have a UTI, your body can shed epithelial cells as part of its defense against pathogens that form biofilms or intracellular bacterial communities .
The body is pretty amazing really. Pathogens invade and start to form communities on and inside the bladder lining cells, and your body starts sacrificing its own cells, in an attempt to foil the plan.
Historically, if these epithelial cells were found in urine that tested negative for bacteria, the cells were considered to be sample contamination. It is now clear that the presence of epithelial cells can actually be an indication of an underlying, embedded infection.
Modified Standard Urine Culture Test
Although we know standard UTI testing is inaccurate, some individuals do find an answer. You may be able to request changes to the standard urine culture to increase its accuracy. Possible enhancements include:
These changes arent always possible, so you should ask your doctor about it, or request it directly at a lab if you test independently.
While we dont usually recommend using techniques that have been shown to be so flawed, there are very few options for UTI testing in most regions, and we dont want to dismiss it completely.
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Get Uti Treatment Today With K Health
Did you know that you can get UTI treatment online through K Health?
We have clinicians available 24/7 to get you the care or medication that you need.
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
When Do Symptoms Of A Uti Go Away With Antibiotic Treatment
Once you start taking antibiotics, symptoms of a lower urinary tract infection typically resolve within 24 to 48 hours. With a kidney infection, you can expect to begin feeling better in 3 to 7 days. You will likely find that your symptoms go away before you finish taking the course of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor. This doesnt mean that your infection is gone. Continue taking the medication as directed until you have used all of it to ensure you fully eliminate the bacteria.
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Uti Gone Get The Green Light From The Doctor
Great, you have been taking your antibiotics regularly as prescribed and finally finished your UTI treatmentnow what? Head back to the docs office! Youll have to take another pee test to make sure youre officially rid of that awful UTI. Never assume your urinary tract infection magically vanished on its own, because bacteria is sticky, and isnt easily removed from the urinary tract. Better yet, head to the store to pick up a cranberry supplement, they help flush the urinary tract!
Make sure to get the proper treatment for a UTI from your doc, and once you know your UTI is gone, take cranberry to help maintain a healthy urinary tract.
Treatment From A Gp For Utis That Keep Coming Back
If your UTI comes back after treatment, or you have 2 UTIs in 6 months, a GP may:
- prescribe a different antibiotic or prescribe a low-dose antibiotic to take for up to 6 months
- prescribe a vaginal cream containing oestrogen, if you have gone through the menopause
- refer you to a specialist for further tests and treatments
In some people, antibiotics do not work or urine tests do not pick up an infection, even though you have UTI symptoms.
This may mean you have a long-term UTI that is not picked up by current urine tests. Ask the GP for a referral to a specialist for further tests and treatments.
Long-term UTIs are linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer in people aged 60 and over.
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Taking The Wrong Antibiotic Or Taking Them The Wrong Way
Antibiotics are medications that attack bacteria. Since UTIs are caused by bacteria, your doctor may give you an antibiotic to make the infection go away.
Sometimes, the medicine is not good at fighting the infection. If you take the medicine and still feel sick, tell your doctor. There is more than one UTI treatment. If the first one does not work, you can try a different one.
In one study, researchers looked at 670,450 women with UTIs. About half of the women were given an antibiotic that did not work. Many of the women also took the medications longer than was needed to make the infection go away.
You might get the right medication but make a mistake when you take it. If you take the medication the wrong way, your symptoms might not get better. You could also get a UTI again or get a worse infection.
Here are some important things to know about taking antibiotics for a UTI:
- Keep taking your antibiotics even if you start feeling better. You need to take all the doses to make sure the infection goes away. Do not “save” any of the medicine for later.
- Only take the medicine your doctor gave to you.
- Do not give your antibiotics to other people.
When Should Symptoms Disappear
The length of treatment for your symptoms will depend on the cause.
If your doctor confirms that you have a simple UTI, expect symptoms to disappear within 3-10 days. If your doctor says your UTI is more severe, it may take several weeks for the infection to clear and your symptoms to disappear.
If the cause of your symptoms is unrelated to a UTI, talk to your doctor about the recommended treatment plan and when you can expect your symptoms to disappear.
Regardless of the cause of your symptoms, if your doctor prescribes a course of antibiotics for the treatment of your symptoms, its important that you complete the full course of medication as directed.
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Its Almost Impossible To Collect An Uncontaminated Urine Sample
If youve ever had to provide a urine sample for any type of testing, youre probably familiar with the terms midstream and clean-catch. These basically refer to a urine sample that is captured only during the middle timeframe of urination and is free from contamination. There are two issues here.
Second, its really hard to perch over a toilet, separate the labia , and at the same time have a sample collection cup at the ready, and then only capture 30mL or so of urine from a stream that could be hundreds of milliliters in total.
The result of all this difficulty is that up to 1 in 4 urine samples are considered contaminated. Regardless of the type of testing you choose or are recommended, its always best to have an accurate sample.
What Are Possible Complications Of A Urinary Tract Infection
Most UTIs cause no complications if they spontaneously resolve quickly or if treated early in the infection with appropriate medications. However, there are a number of complications that can occur if the UTI becomes chronic or rapidly advances.
- Chronic infections may result in urinary strictures, abscesses, fistulas, kidney stones, and, rarely, kidney damage or bladder cancer.
- The rapid advancement of UTIs can lead to dehydration, kidney failure, sepsis, and death.
- Pregnant females with untreated UTIs may develop premature delivery and low birth weight for the infant and run the risk of rapid advancement of the infection.
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Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections Are More Common Than You Think
Even after I broke the cycle of recurrent urinary tract infections, I never stopped researching.
Id been full circle through wondering what was wrong with me, to wondering what was wrong with doctors, to being furious at yet another female health issue overlooked by the healthcare industry, to wanting to do something about it.
And here we are. We created this website so you wouldnt have to look so far and wide for helpful information.
Weve done our best to break recurrent UTI into the pieces of the puzzle you need to understand in order to get well:
Hormones Utis And Yeast Infections
I also stopped taking the contraceptive pill, forever.
This is emphasized because quitting the pill felt momentous at the time. I had been on the pill since I was 16. Not for contraception then, but because I had periods so heavy I ended up severely anemic and required treatment.
Later, the pill became convenient for other reasons. I didnt want to worry about irregular, heavy periods, but I also didnt want to get pregnant, so the pill allowed me to live a life fairly free from those concerns.
My problems with the pill started around the same time as my recurrent urinary tract infections. The antibiotics I was taking meant my gut and vaginal flora took a serious hit. Despite being on the pill, my cycle had become unpredictable.
A gynecologist I saw suggested the pill I was on just wasnt right for me and prescribed me another, then another. They didnt help, and my unpredictable cycles continued.
Soon, I began suffering from skin sensitivities and itchiness that drove me crazy.
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What If I Finish My Antibiotics But Still Have Symptoms
Continue the same healthy diet that you are on while taking the antibiotics.
Ask your doctor to do a urine culture 3-7 days after you finish your last antibiotic dose.
Possible reasons for your symptoms include:
Irritation that will go away with time.
Yeast infection, especially if you have been on multiple rounds of antibiotics.
Sexually Transmitted Infection. Test to at least rule it out.
Lingering infection that has not been completely killed off.
Secondary infection due to low immunity and opportunistic bacteria. For example, Enterococcus F. tends to be a common secondary infection.
If symptoms persist and none of the above are applicable we recommend you speak with your doctor about next level of testing, including full blood work, hormones, thyroid, vitamin deficiencies, and gene mutations such as MTHFR.
Statistics Around Frequent Utis
While the statistics around chronic urinary tract infections are hard to find, we do know that:
- 30-44% of females with an initial UTI will experience a second UTI. And with each UTI, the risk of another UTI increases.
- Frequent UTIs may be caused by multiple organisms simultaneously.
- A significant proportion of our quiz respondents have suffered 7+ UTIs, with a recurrence every 1-3 months.
- Our own data indicate that most females who experience recurrent UTIs do so despite standard antibiotic treatment.
- Testing and treatment guidelines for chronic urinary tract infections are inadequate or do not exist in most parts of the world. This means even when doctors want to help, they generally dont have the resources or guidance they need to be able to.
- One study found that 74% of females diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis had previously been diagnosed with recurrent UTIs. Interstitial Cystitis is a painful set of urinary tract symptoms with no identified cause and no known cure.
- 93% of the females included in the above study had also received negative test results after having their urine cultured .
In short, a significant number of females move through escalating stages of diagnosis as antibiotic treatment fails to cure them and testing fails to find a cause.
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Option #: Persistent Uti Symptoms After Treatment
Here is another option: they sent your urine sample to a lab and later told you that according to the test you have a UTI. However, antibiotics resolved some symptoms , but the urge to urinate or pain in the lower abdomen remained.
As you could imagine, there could be a scenario when not only you have a full-blown UTI, but also an inflamed bladder lining is causing additional symptoms, as discussed above.
In this case, you, most likely, will see a reduction in pain, and your urine will become clear. However, pain in the bladder area and slight irritation after urination might still linger.
Moreover, when patients mention they feel burning in the urethra rather than the bladder, its quite normal. In fact, the urethra has more nerve endings that could be easily irritated due to underlying inflammation.