Researchers found that recurrent uncomplicated urinary tract infections cause significant disruption to daily activities and negatively impact health-related quality of life.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) occur when bacteria enter the urethra — a small tube that allows urine to exit the bladder. Symptoms of a UTI include burning or pain when urinating, frequent urination, and blood in the urine.
About 10 in 25 women and three in 25 men will experience UTI symptoms in their lifetime. Moreover, some people experience recurring UTIs that may result in repeated antibiotic use.
Now, a study published on February 1 in the journal PLOS ONE found that uncomplicated UTIs are significantly associated with disruptions in daily activities, work productivity, and mental health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Moreover, poor response to treatment and the use of multiple antibiotics may also play a role.
To assess the impact UTIs have on women, researchers surveyed 375 adult female participants, asking them about daily activity impairment, workplace productivity, HRQoL, how often they visited healthcare resources, and costs.
After compiling the data, the team found that UTIs impacted sleep in 60.8% of participants. The data also revealed that 66.9% of women surveyed reported that UTIs negatively affected their sex life.
In addition, 52.3% of the participants reported UTIs impacted exercise, and 46.9% said UTIs impaired their social activities.
Women with recurrent UTIs reported greater impairment with activities than those without recurrent infections, including more time away from work. They also incurred higher direct and indirect costs for medical care.
In addition, reported health-related quality of life was worse in the participants with recurrent UTIs than in women without repeated infections.
The study authors note that while uncomplicated UTIs are common, their impact on patients should not be underestimated, and appropriate treatment is crucial in preventing adverse effects on quality of life and healthcare resource use.
Preventing and treating UTIs
Because of the burdens associated with recurrent urinary tract infections, prevention and appropriate treatment is critical. According to the CDC, ways to prevent UTIs include:
- Urinating after sexual activity
- Drinking plenty of water
- Taking showers instead of baths
- Minimizing the use of douches, sprays, or powders in the genital area
- Wiping from front to back after using the toilet
In addition, consuming blueberries, cranberries, unsweetened cranberry juice, or taking vitamin C and probiotics may also help prevent UTIs. Another supplement to consider is D-Mannose — a type of sugar that prevents certain types of bacteria from clinging to the lining of the bladder.
Treatment generally involves antibiotics. However, some research suggests that D-Mannose may be equally effective as antibiotics in treating a UTI. Make sure to visit a doctor or healthcare professional for proper care and diagnosis.
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