How My Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections Began
I was going through a stressful relationship breakup, and selling my business, and was completely run down.
I was still exercising daily, and had a fairly healthy vegetarian diet, but stress took its toll.
The UTI hit me fast. The pain was just as intense as I remembered, but I didnt panic quite as much as the first time. I knew Id get antibiotics when I showed up at the emergency room.
Plus, I didnt have time to think about it. Life was way too hectic for me to put extra energy towards my health.
Just as with my first UTI, the antibiotics worked and I dismissed it. But the symptoms crept back. A month later I was at a friends farm when it got so bad I had to make a run for the hospital.
Driving more than an hour was too much for me and I ended up squatting on the side of a dangerous road in the dark more than once.
Recurrent urinary tract infections had officially become a part of my life, though I had no idea of this at time.
The thing is, when it first hits you, its out of the blue, and you never imagine this is going to be your life now. You take antibiotics, it goes away, youre generally healthy, so chances are it was just an anomaly.
They May Not Show Up On Standard Tests
“The current routine tests that are used to diagnose urinary tract infection, whether acute or chronic, are insensitive and inaccurate,” James Malone-Lee, Emeritus professor of Medicine at University College London, tells Bustle. “They are woefully inadequate and fail to detect numerous infections.” In particular, standard tests focus on the detection of E. Coli, but infections can be caused by many other bacteria, Alan Wolfe, professor of Microbiology at Loyola University, tells Bustle. Routine tests also may not pick up low-grade infections.
One study in Clinical Microbiology and Infectionfound that about one in five UTIs did not show up on standard urine cultures. There are a number of more advanced testing techniques that address this problem, including PCR tests, Next-Generation Sequencing, and Broth Culture. Wolfe recommends testing via the Enhanced Quantitative Urine Culture. If you have UTI symptoms but keep getting normal urine cultures, alternative tests may be worth looking into.
Treatment For Cystitis That Keeps Coming Back
If you keep getting cystitis, a GP may prescribe:
- a single-dose antibiotic to take within 2 hours of having sex, if you’ve noticed sex triggers cystitis
- a low-dose antibiotic to take for up to 6 months
- a vaginal oestrogen cream, if you have gone through the menopause
In some women, antibiotics do not work or urine tests do not pick up an infection even though you have cystitis symptoms.
This may mean you have a long-term bladder infection that is not picked up by current urine tests. Ask the GP for a referral to a specialist for further tests and treatment.
Long-term infections are linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer in people aged 60 and over.
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My Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections Treatment Regimen
I didnt realize at the time that this was the beginning of my recovery. My regimen took me to a place where I no longer had any symptoms. I was able to stop taking supplements on a daily basis. It wasnt about managing my symptoms anymore, they were just gone.
I was basically back at square one and I wanted a fresh start. I wanted more information everything I could get my hands on. I started with a range of blood tests to check my general health.
I discovered I was quite low in a few essential vitamins and minerals. In speaking with clinicians I have learned this is very common in people who have been fighting long term chronic infection.
First, I began to take a range of supplements targeting my deficiencies. Then I created a regimen of strong herbal antifungals and antibacterials based on the advice of my new doctor.
These were teamed up with oral and vaginal probiotics that contained probiotic strains showing promise for urinary tract and vaginal health.
I had tried all of these separately after reading studies about each of them. But I had never tried them together, or with a plan and a timeframe in mind.
I started my new regimen.
How Does A Uti Happen
A UTI can occur in any area of the your urinary tract, including the kidneys , ureters , bladder and urethra . UTIs occur when bacteria gets into your urethra and travels to your kidney.
Risk factors that can increase your chance of having a UTI include:
- having medical conditions like diabetes
- previous UTI in the last year
- using spermicide as a method of birth control
Sometimes your doctor can diagnose your UTI just based on your symptoms. Your doctor might need to confirm if you have a UTI through urine tests and urine cultures. You may also need other tests like blood tests or imaging studies of your urinary tract.
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Check If It’s A Urinary Tract Infection
Symptoms of a urinary tract infection may include:
- pain or a burning sensation when peeing
- needing to pee more often than usual during the night
- pee that looks cloudy, dark or has a strong smell
- 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
Why Wont My Uti Go Away
If you have recurrent or persistent UTIs, plus, antibiotics aren’t helping, you might rightfully wonder why your UTI won’t go away. This can be down to the treatment choice not being suitable for the type of infection underlying, the true cause of the infections not being determined, or because you’re not recovering sufficiently from an initial infection.
Here I explore the reasons in more depth, as to why your UTIs might not be going away for good:
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Can A Uti Go Away On Its Own
Urinary tract infections are highly common and can be treated with antibiotics. However, sometimes antibiotics do not work, in which case you may need other treatments. Some people are curious to learn whether UTIs can clear on their own without medicines.
Can a UTI clear up on its own and how long can it last? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions, and to find out where you can go to receive treatment for a UTI.
Who Is At Risk From Antibiotic
Those at greatest risk of antibiotic resistant infections are often those with other underlying medical conditions, who have weakened immune systems either due to illness or as a side-effect of current treatment. Those often affected have already been taking antibiotics or have been in hospital. Older people, such as those in care facilities or those undergoing catheterisation may also be affected by ongoing or recurrent resistant UTIs.
The biggest risk is that untreated or resistant infections can lead to kidney problems or even more serious conditions like sepsis . However, it is also very difficult living with the ongoing symptoms of recurring or antibiotic resistant UTIs.
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When To See A Gp
See a GP if you feel feverish and have pain that will not go away in your tummy, lower back or genitals.
Contact a GP immediately if you think your child may have a kidney infection.
If you cannot get a GP appointment and need urgent medical attention, go to your nearest urgent care centre .
If you do not have a local UCC, go to your nearest A& E.
What Can I Do To Avoid Getting A Uti In The First Place
Women are more susceptible to U.T.I.s, as they are commonly known, owing to the way these germs infect: They often travel through fecal residue from the rectum to the urethra this can happen through sex or poor bathroom hygiene. Even taking great care does not make them entirely avoidable.
Here are some steps that can help prevent urinary tract infections: Drink plenty of fluids, which helps flush out the bladder. Empty your bladder after sexual intercourse. Practice good bathroom hygiene, which, simply put, means wiping from front to back.
During the reproductive years, women are as much as 50 times more likely than men to get a U.T.I. However, those numbers even out significantly in an aging population because men wind up getting surgical procedures, or have bowel control issues, that might lead to the same spread of germs from gut and rectum to the urinary tract.
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Antibiotics That Shouldnt Be A First Choice For Uncomplicated Utis
Other antibiotics appear to be overused, and some physicians may misuse non-recommended antibiotics as first-line treatments. Ciprofloxacin is used in 35% of uncomplicated UTIs, while levofloxacin is used in 2%. These antibiotics can be important treatments in some cases of more complicated UTIs, but can have dangerous side effects.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that the use of these drugs should be restricted because of their potentially disabling side effects involving tendons, muscles, joints, nerves and the central nervous system. Additionally, in many parts of the country, bacteria commonly causing UTIs are becoming resistant to these antibiotics.
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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.
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Why Your Uti Test May Be Negative Even When You Have Symptoms
How about a study that looked at bacterial DNA in the urine of women with UTI-like symptoms who also had a negative culture test?
To summarize, the researchers looked at urine samples of women without symptoms and a group with UTI-like symptoms. They performed two tests: a culture test and a DNA-sequencing test that allows identifying if there is any bacterial DNA in the urine.
According to the study, 90.5% of symptomatic women with a negative urine culture tested positive for Escherichia coli bacteria with molecular methods compared to about 5.3% of women without symptoms.
This allowed the researchers to conclude that culture tests might not be sufficiently accurate and if a patient complains of urinary tract infection symptoms, she might as well be treated for an acute UTI.
The findings are gaining traction among chronic UTI sufferers who feel that the study finally gives more credibility to their complaints.
However, argues Dr. Hawes the significance of finding bacterial DNA may be different than the significance of finding live growing bacteria. Does the DNA stay around after an infection? If so, for how long? How do you determine antibiotic sensitivity based on DNA findings rather than live growth?.
As Dr. Hawes concludes, We dont yet understand the clinical significance of this data. In other words, do not dismiss the results of your culture test because of this study.
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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What Else Can You Do When Antibiotics Fail
When it comes to the best treatment for recurrent chronic UTIs there are two main camps.
Some physicians prefer a long-term antibiotic treatment protocol, frequently prescribing a variety of antibiotics over the course of several months .
Others advocate for the mindful use of antibiotics and focus on correcting underlying dysbiosis as the main reason for recurrent UTIs. In fact, we are still learning about the human microbiome and the effect bacteria have on our health and it seems less and less probable that antibiotics alone could solve chronic issues.
Moreover, antibiotics were developed when we thought that a healthy bladder is sterile which we now know is far from the truth.
What is the best approach to cure a chronic UTI? Here is a selection of posts that can help you to get up to speed:
How Long Does A Complicated Uti Last
Complicated UTIs can last a couple of weeks. According to the AUA, a number of different factors can determine if a UTI is complicated, including:
- whether you’re pregnant or post-menopausal
- the cause is bacteria that are resistant to multiple drugs
- something abnormal in your urinary tract
- if you have a catheter, stent, nephrostomy tubes, or other medical devices
- if you have a chronic condition, like diabetes or a compromised immune system
If you’ve got a complicated UTI, you’ll need treatment with a longer course of oral antibiotics , and potentially intravenous antibiotics, as well, per the AUA. But while treatment will last 14 days, you’ll probably feel better much sooner. “As your body starts to fight infection, that burning with urination will improve,” said Dr. Moore.
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How Do You Know If Youre Dealing With A Standard Uti Or Severe Kidney Infection
Both are technically forms of UTIs. A standard UTI, though, typically just means you’re dealing with cystitis, or inflammation of the bladder. That inflammation causes those typical UTI symptoms like painful or burning urination and urgent or frequent urination, explains Dr. Mueller.
But a kidney infection, also known as pyelonephritis, is caused by the same bacteria and oftentimes results from an untreated bladder infection. These symptoms are typically much more severe.
Causes Of Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections are usually caused by bacteria from poo entering the urinary tract.
The bacteria enter through the tube that carries pee out of the body .
Women have a shorter urethra than men. This means bacteria are more likely to reach the bladder or kidneys and cause an infection.
Things that increase the risk of bacteria getting into the bladder include:
do not use scented soap
do not hold your pee in if you feel the urge to go
do not rush when going for a pee try to fully empty your bladder
do not wear tight, synthetic underwear, such as nylon
do not drink lots of alcoholic drinks, as they may irritate your bladder
do not have lots of sugary food or drinks, as they may encourage bacteria to grow
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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.
How Can You Support Antibiotics For Uti Treatment
To help the antibiotic work as effectively as possible:
- Drink six to eight, 8-oz. glasses of water per day.
- Dont ignore the urge to urinate. Use the bathroom as soon as possible.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing and cotton underwear.
- Strive to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
- Manage your stress levels.
- Take the drug as directed without skipping doses.
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Can Utis Resolve On Their Own
According to a 2014 study published in JAMA, UTIs can resolve on their own within one week without antibiotics in 25% to 50% of women with these infections.
The body can fight a urinary tract infection on its own by recruiting white blood cells to kill the bacteria, says Dr. Tharakan.
A UTI may resolve on its own if the infection is mild, or if you do not have a history of multiple past infections. A UTI may also resolve on its own if you take steps to clear bacteria from your urinary tract. This may include drinking more water than usual, urinating as soon as you feel the urge, and avoiding sprays, powders, and douches that can introduce bacteria to the urinary tract.
Many doctors advise against waiting for a UTI to resolve on its own, given how it can lead to complications if it doesnt go away. Complications of a UTI include: