What to do when your UTI keeps coming back and doesn’t respond to treatment.
Recurrent UTIs, also called Chronic UTIs, can be particularly alarming. To manage persistent symptoms, make it a point to visit your health care provider right away and start some preventive lifestyle habits.
You probably already know that urinary tract infections (UTI) can produce a long string of burdensome symptoms, including an urgent and sudden need to urinate, burning pain when urinating or “balisawsaw”, and a feeling of heaviness or pressure on the abdomen.
However, the real horror begins when these symptoms refuse to improve, even with medical treatment.
Recurrent UTIs, also called chronic UTIs, are more common in women than in men. The culprit being, the inherent anatomic structure of women , which consists of a shorter urethra positioned close to the rectum. This makes it easier for infection-causing bacteria such as Escherichia coli to make their way to the urinary bladder and multiply.
When treatment doesn’t work
UTI is a fairly common illness, accounting for around 8.3 million doctor visits yearly in the United States alone. This is probably why most people just shrug it off as another harmless condition, and most of the time, they’re right not to worry. Generally, this genitourinary infection is non-complex and thus fairly easy to manage.
There are cases, however, when patients don’t respond to the treatment. According to Erik Castle, MD, from Mayo Clinic, there are several factors that may predispose you to UTI, particularly if you’re a woman. These are:
- kidney or bladder stones
- bacteria entering the urethra during intercourse
- changes in estrogen levels
- abnormal anatomic structure
- genetic predisposition
- previous surgery on the urinary tract
- diabetes and other associated complications
- bladder cancer
In men, however, having an enlarged or infected prostate can exacerbate their UTI symptoms or predispose them to a chronic infection. Also, if you have other conditions requiring you to use a catheter, the chances of getting your urinary tract infected also increase.
Managing recurrent symptoms
If your UTI keeps coming back, your doctor may recommend a full review of all possible risk factors you may be exposed to. A non-complicated UTI is usually treated with antibiotics for a week, but for complex cases, long -term / low-dose antibiotics may be administered for as long as 6 months to two full years.
For women, doctors may also recommend intermittent, self-directed therapy, which entails taking antibiotics after every intercourse.
On the other hand, UTI cases related to hormonal changes—such as those that occur during pregnancy or menopause—may be managed using vaginal estrogen therapy.
It may also be necessary to undergo other diagnostic methods to pinpoint the real cause of recurrent UTIs. Some of these procedures are:
- urine culture and direct
- visual examination of the bladder and urethra, as well as,
- Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan of the urinary tract
Protecting yourself from Chronic UTI
It goes without saying that getting UTI over and over again can be quite a hassle and may lead to severe complications. Prevention is still the best way to keep it at bay permanently. To lessen your chances of contracting infections in the future, you need to make some lifestyle changes. Here are some of them:
1. Drink plenty of water. This helps flush out bacteria from your urinary tract, keeping it healthy and functioning well.
2. Avoid holding your urine for long periods of time . This prevents bacteria from multiplying in the bladder. Urinate often, especially when you feel the need to.
3. For women , after urinating, wipe from Front to the Back, this technique avoids introducing bacteria directly into the urethra.
4. Observe good personal hygiene to keep your private area free of bacteria. This includes peeing after sexual intercourse.
5. Also, avoid using diaphragms and spermicides for birth control. These are associated with an increased risk for UTI.
Recurrent UTIs can be a serious and complex health problem, so getting in touch with your doctor right away is recommended. However, it’s still best to make some healthy lifestyle changes to effectively ward off future infections.