Chemists have come up with new treatment for urinary tract infections (UTIs) that avoids the use of antibiotics. Their discovery of an alternate way to cure these troublesome infections is especially important to individuals such as myself who suffer from digestive disorders aggravated by antibiotics.
Beat Ernst, Ph.D., of Switzerland's University of Basel, led a research team whose conclusions appeared in an American Chemical Society podcast. Their new approach caused excitement in the scientific community because by not including antibiotics, it avoids completely the growing issue of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to Medical News Today. The potential treatment works by preventing bacteria from sticking to the inside of the bladder.
UTIs are the reason for 8.1 million visits to U.S. health care providers every year, the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse says. Frequent infections are common in some women. One in five young women with an initial UTI will experience at least one more. A majority of infections are caused by the bacteria E. coli, which normally resides in the intestines.
Antibiotics have been the primary UTI treatment for years. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most commonly prescribed are drugs like Bactrim, Septra, Larotid, Moxatag, Furadantin, Macrodantin, Ampicillin, Cipro, and Levaquin. Treatment ranges from a few days to a few weeks.
As the use of antibiotics has expanded, the number of bacteria resistant to the most common has escalated. One troublesome result is superbugs that remain unscathed by even the most potent antibiotics.
Using mice, the researchers developed a treatment that doesn't involve killing bacteria. Instead, anti-adhesion molecules prevent them from attaching to the bladder and causing an infection. The results were comparable to those achieved with Cipro in humans.
Like many women, I have developed multiple UTIs, some of them back-to-back infections. Taking antibiotics has caused many problems since I am also one of around 700,000 Americans with Crohn's disease. While its cause and its cure still elude researchers, experts know that in patients with this disorder, the body somehow interprets normally benevolent objects as harmful invaders, according to the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America.
The immune response of a Crohn's patient commonly mistakes helpful bacteria, some foods, and the individual's own tissue as objects to be destroyed. The attack it launches creates an inflammatory process that defines the disease. In a number of patients such as myself, use of antibiotics for a week or longer further upsets the chemical balance of the gut and causes disease symptoms to worsen. This sets off a cycle of inflammation that's sometimes difficult to correct.
I experience the same problem with any condition, such as a sinus infection, for which the doctor prescribes antibiotics. When available, the new urinary tract infection treatment that avoids these drugs could be a major development in keeping my finicky gut a lot calmer.
Vonda J. Sines has published thousands of print and online health and medical articles. She specializes in diseases and other conditions that affect the quality of life.