If you’re like the 50 to 60 percent of women who suffer from a urinary tract infection (UTI) at least once in their lives…you already know how miserable this condition is.
The constant burning and feeling like you “need to go” are enough to drive anyone mad.
What’s worse? A new study shows that your mainstream doc could be missing the mark when treating this common infection.
According to the research, women frequently receive inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions for UTIs. Especially if they live in an urban area.
Fortunately, you have much safer options for dealing with UTIs without resorting to the use of antibiotics, as I’ll explain in a moment.
But first, let’s talk about that new study…
76 percent of women with UTIs took antibiotics for too long
Researchers looked at almost 700,000 women living in rural and urban areas who were treated for a UTI between 2010 and 2015 in the U.S. Women residing in rural areas were more likely to be treated by a family physician, pediatrician, or non-physician personnel. Whereas women in urban areas were more likely to be treated by a medical specialist.
The researchers determined appropriateness for the use and duration of antibiotic treatment by referencing the recommendations from the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the European Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.
It turns out, almost half of the women (47 percent) were prescribed inappropriate antibiotics during the study period. And more than three-fourths of them (76 percent) were prescribed an antibiotic for a duration that was longer than necessary.
Still, there was a bit of good news in this whole mess…
The rate of inappropriate prescriptions dropped from 49 percent in 2011 down to 44 percent in 2015. Likewise, the inappropriate duration periods dropped from 78 to 73 percent.
Plus, women who lived in rural areas had a slightly lower risk of receiving inappropriate antibiotic treatments than those living in urban areas. (These same women were more likely to be seen and treated by general practitioners than medical specialists.)
Of course, researchers don’t often analyze the differences in rural and urban medical practice patterns. So I was glad to see it done here.
I find (and many studies confirm) that practitioners in rural areas have an inherently different, hands-on, holistic approach to the practice of medicine compared to the high-tech, hyper-specialized approach seen in urban practices. And, as this study showed, these rural practitioners often give better care.
Finish up as soon as you start feeling better
The inappropriate use of antibiotics can increase your risk of suffering an adverse event, such as an abnormal heartbeat and even DNA damage. It’s also a major contributor to the problem of antibiotic resistance. And it wreaks havoc on your gastrointestinal (GI) microbiome.
So, what can you do about it?
Well, some doctors aren’t caught up on the science. And they will tell you to keep taking an antibiotic for the entire length of the prescription—until you’ve taken every single pill—even after you have fully recovered.
But recent scientific studies show you can actually stop taking an antibiotic as soon as you start feeling better—and let your immune system take over from there. For example, a seven-day prescription typically does the job in just five days. And a 10-day prescription often gets it done in seven days.
Of course, it’s always better to focus first on prevention…so you don’t have to ever consider taking an antibiotic.
So, if you suffer from chronic UTIs, here are some tips…
1.) Strive to stay well hydrated, especially during the heat of the summer. I recommend enjoying healthy, natural spring water—bottled at the source in glass.
2.) Consider taking a dietary supplement that contains South African rooibos (aspal or red bush), which helps keep you hydrated on a cellular level. Cranberry supplements (not artificial cranberry juices) can also help prevent UTIs.
3.) Many botanicals have been used for centuries in traditional medicine to help promote women’s health. You can learn about the flowering plant shown to reduce UTIs in older women in the September 2019 issue of my monthly newsletter, Insiders’ Cures (“These three botanicals pack a punch against common women’s health problems”). If you’re not yet a subscriber, now is the perfect time to become one.
“Why your doctor’s advice to take all your antibiotics may be wrong,” Stat news, 2/9/2017. (statnews.com/2017/02/09/antibiotics-resistance-superbugs/)
“CDC: 1 in 3 antibiotic prescriptions unnecessary,” Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 5/3/2016. (cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0503-unnecessary-prescriptions.html)
“Rural–urban differences in antibiotic prescribing for uncomplicated urinary tract infection.” Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, March 2021; 1-8. doi.org/10.1017/ice.2021.21