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Urinary tract infections (UTI) in women

According to Cedars-Sinai research published in the Journal of Urology, despite the prevalence of the painful illness, women are afraid and dissatisfied by the restricted treatment options.

Women in the research chastised healthcare practitioners for failing to comprehend their experiences and recommending antibiotics as a therapeutic option too frequently.

"The overwhelming number of women who came to us feeling despondent and powerless when it came to the care of their UTIs encouraged us to perform the study," said main author Victoria Scott, MD, a urologist at Cedars-Female Sinai's Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery clinic.

Researchers conducted a focus group study of 29 women who had recurring urinary tract infections to learn about gaps in their care and to offer patients suffering from recurrent UTIs a voice. UTIs are infections of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra, which can affect any section of the urinary system. The most prevalent use of the term is to denote a bladder infection.

One of the most common concerns raised by survey participants was the frequent prescription of antibiotics, as well as concerns about the medication's potential side effects and long-term implications.

"A lot of the people there were aware of the dangers of germs acquiring antibiotic resistance," Scott added. "They were also aware of antibiotics' 'collateral harm,' and the disruption they can cause to the body's regular balance of good and bad germs."

Concerns about the medical system and inadequate research efforts to examine novel non-antibiotic management options were also raised during focus group discussions.

Participants expressed dissatisfaction and animosity toward their medical providers for "dumping antibiotics" at them without offering alternate treatment and preventative choices, as well as for failing to comprehend their situation. Many women also mentioned consulting herbalists and acupuncture practitioners, as well as peers in online forums and chatrooms.

Although studies demonstrate that antibiotics are frequently the most effective treatment choice for urinary tract infections, research also suggests that non-prescription measures such as increased water consumption and pain relievers such as ibuprofen can resolve up to 40% of bladder infections.

When UTI symptoms first appear and urine test results are pending, doing these steps will help you avoid unneeded medications and ensure that you get the right drugs when you need them.

Drinking water, taking cranberry supplements or a low-dose antibiotic after sexual intercourse, and utilizing vaginal estrogen for postmenopausal women are some of the steps women can take to avoid a urinary tract infection.

While many people prefer over-the-counter remedies, Scott advises contacting a doctor if a fever develops or symptoms last more than a day, as antibiotic medication may be required for some infections to prevent them from spreading from the bladder to the kidneys.

"Antibiotics are great drugs that can save your life in certain situations," Scott said. "Antibiotics are really necessary in some cases, but it's also critical for women to be informed about all of their options."

Those who suffer from repeated urinary tract infections should seek medical help. A kidney ultrasound or a cystoscopy, which uses a small camera put into the urethra to provide a picture of the urethra and bladder to rule out anatomic abnormalities, may be beneficial for certain women.

Men can also get urinary tract infections, according to Scott, albeit they are less prevalent.

A single bout of a urinary tract infection may not seem to have a big influence on a patient's life to some healthcare providers. UTIs, on the other hand, can have a detrimental influence on social life, employment, families, and relationships when they reoccur, often without notice.

Physicians should adapt management tactics to address women's concerns, and more research should be dedicated to enhancing non-antibiotic options for preventing and treating recurrent urinary tract infections, as well as management strategies that better empower patients, according to the study.

Many women, unfortunately, blame themselves for acquiring UTIs. "It's critical to recognize that UTIs are a fairly prevalent problem that should not be ashamed of," Scott added. "If you have recurrent UTIs, I recommend making an appointment with a doctor who specializes in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery so that you may work together to develop specific preventive and management techniques."

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