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What if Your UTI Could Never Be Cured?


The drugs doctors have used to treat UTIs for generations are not working any more, thanks to drug-resistant strains. 

The New York City Department of Health are immensely concerned about the increasing number of drug-resistant urinary tract infections.

In prior decades, UTIs were easily cured with a course of antibiotics, but with passing each year, more and more Americans (mostly women) are being hospitalized and left at greater risk when doctors realize the meds that had worked for generations are no longer good enough.

Women in their reproductive years are 50 times more likely than men to have a UTA, according to the New York Times. One-third of UTI cases caused by E. coli (not unlike the kind that plaged Hugh Hefner until his death) have shown to be resident to Bactrim, a drug that’s been used to treat UTIs for years. 

Furthermore, researchers found that nearly one-fifth of UTI cases were also resistant to five other common treatments — including ampicillin, which was once a “gold standard” for treating the infections.

This month, the NYC department of health released a mobile app specifically for doctors and nurses, which will display a list of all UTI strains as well as the drugs they’re resistant to. In theory, the app could help with navigating people to appropriate treatment options.

People with weaker immunes systems or chronic medical conditions are most vulnerable to drug-resistant infections, which puts those living with HIV at a unique risk. While the World Health Organization admits that data on drug resistance is limited, the fact that drug-resistant UTIs were so common suggests that an increase in drug-resistant strains might lead to more cases severe illnesses and fatalities.

As Plus previously reported, antibiotics were a game changer in the medical community as far as curing common infections. But now, they exist everywhere — in livestock, food, and over the counter meds. As a result, bodies has built immune pathogens (“superbugs”) that have become resistant to antibiotics, which can be quite serious for a vulnerable immune system. 

According to World Bank, it's predicted that by 2050, annual health care costs would rise 25 percent in low-income countries, 15 percent in middle-income countries, and 6 percent in high-income countries — equaling nearly $1 trillion per year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have already reported that these superbugs kill 23,000 a year, and that over 2 million people are infected by drug-resistant germs every year. 

Urine cultures are a good way for doctors to navigate personalized treatment, but generally, doctors and nurses do not order a urine culture before prescribing an antibiotic. Additionally, getting a culture can be expensive depending on a person’s insurance. 

The Times notes that some women have UTIs that the body fights off on its own without using antibiotics, while other women "may have a different low-level ailment that feels like a UTI, but isn’t." Of course, the safest course is to see a doctor and make an informed decision about which antibiotic, if any, is necessary. 

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David Artavia