If you've had a UTI, then you've definitely been given the standard treatment: antibiotics. While these are definitely a life-saver, antibiotics come with their own drawbacks, too. And if you get recurring urinary tract infections, you're even more at risk of dealing with these nasty side effects.
But how do antibiotics and work and why exactly can they become bad for you? Let's find out!
Treating and preventing UTIs with antibiotics
A cycle of antibiotics is the first line of treatment when it comes to urinary tract infections. They are an effective solution and can make the uncomfortable symptoms disappear in less than 24 hours in some cases.
For chronic urinary tract infection sufferers, low dose antibiotics taken daily for prolonged periods are often the only option for prevention. Often, this prolonged exposure to antibiotics causes some unfortunate side-effects. And even then, it's not guaranteed that you will be UTI free.
Antibiotics' effect on the body
When using antibiotics, the goal is to eliminate the bad bacteria. However, often the good bacteria that protect us from other infections can also be killed in the process. This could potentially lead to increased bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections.
What kind of bacteria cause UTIs?
The most common bacteria that cause urinary tract infections are E.coli (Escherichia coli). Some types of E.coli live in our intestines and even help keep our digestive tract healthy. It's estimated that 85% of all urinary tract infections are caused by the E.coli bacteria living inside our bowels finding their way into our own urinary tract.
But UTIs can also be caused by other bacteria such as Klebsiella pneumoniae, Proteus mirabilis, and Staphylococcus saprophyticus. Because different antibiotics are needed to treat different bacteria, it's important to make sure a urine culture is performed in order to identify which strain of bacteria is causing the UTI.
The topic of antibiotic resistance is a global issue. With UTIs being one of the top 5 reasons antibiotics are prescribed, it is definitely an area that could be improved. If you are constantly taking antibiotics, there is the likelihood that the bacteria can build up resistance to that antibiotic and won’t be killed. This means that the antibiotic may be less effective in the future for you and not just for UTIs but for other infections.
Is it possible to avoid antibiotics?
Antibiotics are essential and effective at stopping a bacterial infection, but they should be used sparingly. The only way to truly reduce usage of antibiotics is to prevent the infections from occurring as best possible.
There does exist a natural alternative: the cranberry. There's a special bioactive compound found inside the cranberry that's been clinically proven to be effective in controlling bacteria. They're called proanthocyanidins.
However, the fruit itself, cranberry juice and even some supplements don't have the required amount in order to be effective.