What Causes Chronic Urinary Tract Infection
This is where the science gets a little more complicated.
Weve talked elsewhere about what causes UTIs. And above, we explained that recurrent UTIs can be attributed to a persistent bladder infection that is not properly eradicated by treatment.
A persistent bladder infection can last for years in the form of a chronic urinary tract infection. For many females, the cycle of acute and symptom-free periods is never broken, and some move on to be diagnosed with the conditions mentioned above, such as Interstitial Cystitis , or Painful Bladder Syndrome . More on that later.
Why has it been so difficult to detect and treat these infections?
There is a culprit here, so lets take a closer look. Behind the misdiagnosis of hundreds of thousands of people, are embedded chronic urinary tract infections that involve biofilms.
Is It My Fault That I Keep Getting Utis
Even the second or third time you get a UTI it can seem like a bit of a coincidence. The words recurrent urinary tract infections dont really register at this stage. You figure you just havent been sleeping enough.
Or maybe youve been fighting a virus and your immune system is just having a rough time.
Denial is probably the most accurate word for this phase. I was just so certain the antibiotics would work every time. Even though they didnt.
Selling my business and packing up my life for a move overseas was my priority, and the frequent trips to the doctor for antibiotics were more of a nuisance than cause for concern.
I thought I was being responsible when I asked my doctor for antibiotics to take abroad with me in case I got another UTI. That optimism is almost laughable now.
What Causes Uti Symptoms To Linger Even After Antibiotic Treatment
Antibiotic resistance occurs when the bacteria causing your UTI dont respond to the administered antibiotics, often because of frequent use.
This is especially true for people who have chronic UTIs. When antibiotics are used frequently or constantly, the bacteria may evolve and become resistant to them.
E. coli is the most common bacteria that causes UTI. However, if your UTI is caused by a less common bacteria strain, or even a virus or fungi, there is a chance that the antibiotic prescribed to treat the infection is not the right one and therefore ineffective.
For people who dont respond to the standard therapy for E. coli, a urine culture may be necessary to look at what is causing the UTI.
Sometimes, UTI symptoms dont resolve with antibiotics because it turns out you dont have a UTI at all, but instead a condition that causes UTI-like symptoms. These conditions may include:
A Pharmacist Can Help With Utis
You can ask a pharmacist about treatments for a UTI. A pharmacist can:
- offer advice on things that can help you get better
- suggest the best painkiller to take
- tell you if you need to see a GP about your symptoms
Some pharmacies offer a UTI management service and can prescribe antibiotics if they’re needed.
My Experience With Unexplained Bladder Pain
When I wrote this article in 2012, I had just recovered after suffering from very distressing urinary symptoms for months. I was going to the bathroom every ten minutes, and the only time I felt better was when I was actually peeing. I could not sleep at all, I was mentally distraught and was struggling to function in my daily life.
While I was suffering, I was desperately searching the Internet for some kind of advice. I had to really dig deep to get anything at all. That is what prompted me to write this article.
I am happy to see that now there is actually some advice available from medical websites such as Web MD. I hope this means that doctors are better informed about this problem and that it is leading to better medical care and less suffering. Still, I think it is helpful to hear about the experience from a patient who has been through it and recovered. The doctor’s don’t know what you are going through, but I do.
Some of the subjects I will cover are:
- Symptom relief
- The causes of urinary problems
- Where to turn for help
- What to eat and which foods to avoid
- Supplements I used
Many people have read this article, and many have left their stories in the comments section, where you will find lots of helpful advice. If you are currently suffering, I hope you find something here that will lighten your burden.
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Chronic Urinary Tract Conditions: Different Names For The Same Family Of Problems
|Hypersensitive Bladder Syndrome
|An umbrella term used in East Asia to cover conditions resulting in symptoms including, bladder pain, discomfort, pressure or other unpleasant sensation, and is associated with disorders such as a frequent need to urinate day and nightand/or an urgent need to urinate. It encompasses Bladder Pain Syndrome. International Painful Bladder Foundation|
If you do a little research, you will quickly find there are also sub-categories within these conditions, with varying symptoms and levels of injury to the urinary tract.
It is not our intention here to imply these chronic urinary tract conditions are the same, or that they affect people in the same ways. But they do have an important thing in common in the majority of cases, no cause has been identified, and the condition is therefore not curable. Treatment focuses on reducing symptoms rather than resolving the underlying issue.
|After about 3.5 years of chronic urinary tract infections, two doctors said they couldnt help me further. A third said maybe you just have irritable bladder or IC. That maybe didnt feel like a diagnosis. Why did my test results tell them nothing?|
So why do we mention these chronic urinary tract conditions?
Let us explain
Why Its Important To Find The Right Practitioner
While you may be able to request UTI testing independently, the results have limited usefulness without a practitioner who can interpret the information and prescribe an appropriate treatment regimen.
Because the types of UTI testing covered above are not widely available, many practitioners may not be aware of them at all. Or they may be aware of them but have no experience using them, or may believe them to be unhelpful.
Always find a practitioner to work with before ordering testing. Weve covered recurrent UTI treatment approaches in a separate article, so dive in there for more insight.
|With Microbiome testing, you don’t often get one bacteria. Certainly, I have found the usual suspects like E. coli. Ive even detected some STIs, and anaerobes that cant be grown by culture. Sometimes, you get long lists of bacteria that we know very little about, and I’ll do extensive literature searches and sometimes barely come up with one or two papers. And so what I generally do in that situation is to try and figure out which are likely to be pathogenic, and treat those. This is a really different way of prescribing antibiotics compared to when I was trained.”|
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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.
Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection Treatment
Recurrent urinary tract infections are UTIs that keep happening despite treatment. With time, some bacteria may stop responding to an antibiotic. This is called resistance, which makes effective UTI treatment more difficult.
To ensure the best possible treatment for your UTI symptoms, our specialists will inspect your bladder and urethra and possibly your whole urinary tract system to ensure that treatment with antibiotics alone will control the infection. There are times when your physician will work with other specialists if your treatment requires specific antibiotic therapy.
With recurrent UTIs, it is important to make sure that the antibiotic used has completely cleared the UTI. To check this, a urine culture is repeated. This is called a test of cure because it ensures that the treatment has been effective. A TOC is a urine culture that is performed within 7-14 days after completing the last pill of the treatment antibiotic.
Some people with recurrent urinary tract infections may need to take a daily antibiotic for 6-9 months to help prevent another infection after completing the treatment course. This is called a suppression or prophylaxis antibiotic. It is usually a low dose of an antibiotic that has minimal long-term side effects.
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Cephalexin Could Promote Yeast Infection
Beneficial bacteria Lactobacilli are present in healthy vaginas and help to maintain an acidic pH that deters pathogens and yeast.
Like any other antibiotic, taking full dose Cephalexin regularly can deplete your good bacteria and yeast infection may be a side effect.
Unfortunately, once your good bacteria are depleted, you are not only more likely to get a yeast infection but also more vulnerable to infection from your own E. coli. This, in turn, could lead to recurrent UTIs.
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.
Read Also: How Long Does Antibiotic Resistance Last
Cephalexin Could Increase The Risk Of Repeated Utis
Cephalexin belongs to a category of antibiotics called cephalosporins.
I recently came across a study that demonstrated that another drug from the cephalosporin group promotes vaginal colonization with Escherichia coli , the number one bacteria causing UTIs.
The study looked at monkeys and the antibiotic was placed directly into the vagina . While another study shows that low dose daily cephalexin does not affect the vaginal flora, it is definitely possible that if you take full dose Cephalexin regularly, this e may have a detrimental effect on the vaginal microbiome.
Unfortunately, if your vagina is colonized with E. coli, you are almost guaranteed to have repeated UTIs after sex.
Healthy vaginas normally have the ability to deter E. coli bacteria and therefore play a key role in preventing UTIs. If your vaginal health is compromised, your risk of chronic UTIs is higher.
Does Blood In My Urine Mean I Have A Kidney Infection
The internet told me if there was blood in my urine, my kidneys were affected and I HAD to take antibiotics. So I took them.
I didnt die in a little village in the middle of nowhere and I didnt even tell my parents how close they had come to organizing an international funeral.
I was alive, but I wasnt well.
Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections Hindsight Tip #1:
I later discovered that blood in your urine doesnt always mean your kidneys are involved. For many people Ive spoken with, thats just a typical symptom of a bladder infection. And no doctor I saw was ever concerned about my kidneys.
UTI symptoms are different for everybody, and symptoms you think are a UTI may actually be caused by something else entirely. Learn more about UTI symptoms and what causes UTIs. It pays to document all your symptoms, and discuss them with a doctor.
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If You Are Concerned About Bladder Cancer Speak To Your Doctor About Cxbladder
Early detection saves lives and is a crucial factor when it comes to the treatment of bladder cancer. Cxbladder is a clinically proven cutting-edge genomic urine test that quickly and accurately detects or rules out bladder cancer in patients presenting with blood in the urine and those being monitored for recurrence. The test works at a molecular level, measuring five biomarker genes to detect the presence or absence of bladder cancer.
Cxbladder is discreet, quick and non-invasive. It comes as a suite of test options, each optimized for a different point in the patient journey.
- Triage: Incorporates known bladder cancer risk factors to help rapidly rule out the disease.
- Detect: Designed to work alongside other tests to improve overall detection accuracy.
- Monitor: Optimized for bladder cancer surveillance, reducing the need for further invasive tests
Cxbladder gives you peace of mind and will help your doctor make informed treatment decisions. Speak to your general practitioner or urologist to learn more about Cxbladder and which test might be right for you. You can also contact our Customer Service Team directly.Learn more about Cxbladder Contact Us for more information
Bladder Cancer Signs And Symptoms In Women
Blood in the urine
- Blood in the urine is the most common sign of bladder cancer and is also often the first sign noticed. This is because early bladder cancer frequently causes bleeding without pain or other symptoms.
- Depending on the amount of blood present, the urine may appear pink, red, or brownish in color. When blood is present at levels not visible to the naked eye it is referred to as microhematuria. Microhematuria is detected by laboratory urine tests.
- It is important to note that hematuria also occurs commonly in people who do not have bladder cancer. In one study, only about 10% of people with visible hematuria were diagnosed with bladder cancer.7
A change in urination habits and/or symptoms of irritation, such as:
- Increased frequency
- Pain or a burning sensation during urination
- Increased urgency
- Difficulty passing urine
Bladder cancer that has grown in size or spread to other areas of the body may cause a variety of symptoms including an inability to pass urine, lower back pain on one side of the body, pain in the pelvic region, appetite/weight loss, general weakness, swollen feet, or bone pain.
If you have noticed any of these symptoms and are concerned, visit your doctor and ask about testing options, including Cxbladder. Cxbladder is a non-invasive urine test that can quickly and accurately detect or rule out bladder cancer.Learn more about Cxbladder
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So How Big Is The Problem
Its a massive problem. Up to 1.7 million women in the UK suffer from chronic lower urinary tract symptoms. A recent study found and other research suggests a similar number of men could be affected. A growing body of international research suggests that many people suffering from long-term urinary problems may have undiagnosed bacterial infections.
Yet the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines do not recognise the existence of chronic UTI and when tests results are negative and short courses of antibiotics fail to work many specialists seem unwilling to accept that chronic urinary symptoms can be caused by bacteria.
Patients are routinely dismissed as anxious and offered counselling and psychiatric referrals. Sufferers are forced to live in agony and lack quality of life, without ever finding effective treatment or anyone to diagnose and understand their condition. Stuck in a chronic UTI loop.
The Myth Of Interstitial Cystitis And Bladder Syndromes
IC and bladder syndromes are known as diagnoses by exclusion. They dont identify a reason for a patients symptoms, they simply describe collections of symptoms. For example, the NHS Choices website describes IC as a poorly understood, incurable condition.
There is no agreed cause or cure for IC and bladder syndromes. But there is a view among many doctors based on tests which are known to be ineffective that they are not caused by bacteria. Sufferers are offered surgery or prescribed painkillers, including opiates, bladder relaxants and bladder instillations to alleviate symptoms.
Bladder instillations had no more effect than a placebo, a recent large-scale study found. A growing body of evidence suggests that long-term bladder and urinary pain may be caused by infections missed by tests that dont work.
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Check If It’s A Urinary Tract Infection
Symptoms of a UTI may include:
- pain or a burning sensation when peeing
- needing to pee more often than usual during the night
- pee that looks cloudy
- needing to pee suddenly or more urgently than usual
- needing to pee more often than usual
- lower tummy pain or pain in your back, just under the ribs
- a high temperature, or feeling hot and shivery
- a very low temperature below 36C