How can you treat a urinary tract infection?

January 16, 2020

New studies show a rise in antibiotic resistance in UTI treatment

Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) are one of the most common infections in the world. Treated with antibiotics, the infection should subside within 10 days. But for many, it doesn’t.

According to the American Society of Microbiology, UTIs account for over 8 million office visits and 1 million emergency department visits annually in the United States and are one of the most frequent indications for antibiotic use in ambulatory care.

Symptoms and causes of UTIs

Caused by bacteria, often from the rectum, that enters the urethra, UTIs can affect several parts of the urinary tract, but the most common type is a bladder infection (cystitis).

And, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 50 percent of women ages 20-40 will experience a UTI at some point in their life.

They are more common in women due to their shorter urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body, which makes it easier for bacteria like E. Coli to enter the urinary tract.

Symptoms include:

  • A burning feeling when you urinate.
  • A frequent or intense urge to urinate, even though little comes out when you do.
  • Pain or pressure in your back or lower abdomen.
  • Cloudy, dark, bloody, or strange-smelling urine.
  • Feeling tired or shaky.
  • Fever or chills (a sign the infection may have reached your kidneys)

The CDC notes several factors that increase the risk of UTIs, which include a previous UTI or poor hygiene habits like not wiping from front to back. One of the more common risk factors is sexual activity.

 Treatments, antibiotic resistance

According to the American Society of Microbiology, clinical practice guidelines recommend antibiotic therapy for healing uncomplicated UTIs.

But a 2016 study by the organization showed that the most common urinary pathogen, E. coli, has become increasingly resistant to two antibiotics commonly used to treat UTIs.

The New York Times recently reported on the increase in antibiotic resistance in treatment of UTIs, sharing a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases in July 2019  that looked at more than 1,000 healthy women with no symptoms of urinary tract infection (UTI) and found that almost 9 percent had multi-drug resistant Escherichia coli (E. coli) strains in their guts. Most strains of E. coli are harmless, some even beneficial, but some are pathogenic, meaning they cause illness. When these become superbugs, able to fight off antibiotics, they can be quite dangerous.

What to do if your UTI doesn’t go away

If you have a reoccurring UTI, Texas MedClinic Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Gude recommends seeking a urine culture from your physician. “The urine culture is a tool that allows doctors to understand what bacteria is causing the problem, and what antibiotic will work. It does take more time, but in the end, we will be able to better treat the patient.”

Gude notes that antibiotics are an important and necessary tool in treating a UTI, as there is no clinical evidence that a woman with a bacterial bladder infection can cure that infection without antibiotics. However, antibiotic overuse in other areas is making what used to be a fairly routine problem, more complex to treat.

Be Antibiotics Aware

An advocate for understanding the role of antibiotics and how they treat certain illnesses, Gude guides patients regularly on proper use. “The hard truth is the more often we take antibiotics, the more we decrease their effectiveness.”

The CDC recognizes antibiotic resistance as one of the most serious public health problems in the United States and threatens to return us to the time when simple infections were often fatal. Through the Be Antibiotics Aware program, the CDC works to improve antibiotic prescribing and use in human health care, and educate patients about the importance of appropriate use. When we optimize how we use and prescribe these drugs, we protect patients from harm and combat antibiotic resistance.


Texas MedClinic was established in 1982 by Dr. Bernard T. Swift, Jr., as a group medical practice that specializes in urgent care and occupational medicine. Texas MedClinic has grown to 19 locations in San Antonio, New Braunfels, Austin, and Round Rock. Texas MedClinic is staffed with 82 medical providers including physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners and over 450 employees.

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