Urinary Tract Infection or UTI is the most common bacterial infection in human beings. The medical name for UTI is cystitis. It has been reported that more women and children tend to suffer from the infection than men. Medical treatment of urinary tract infection involves the use of oral antibiotics.
In fact, oral antibiotics are the first recommendation of the doctors in case of both mild and severe UTI. Unfortunately, E. coli (the bacteria responsible for the infection) is increasingly becoming immune resistant to some of the highly used antibiotics.
This is especially true in the case of antibiotic trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole that was the doctors’ first choice for treating urinary tract infection. These days many doctors are prescribing quinolone antibiotics for the treatment of UTI. Treatment of UTI using trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole or TMP-SMX has become extremely restricted and is given only in case of first attack of UTI. Medical professionals are worried that soon some strains of E. coli will become immune to quinolone as well. In the meantime, let us look at some of the antibiotics that are commonly used in the treatment of urinary tract infection.
Treating UTI With Antibiotics
The antibiotics that belong to the beta-lactam group are very similar to penicillins and cephalosporins in their chemical composition. In fact, they also share some chemical features with other recently introduced antibiotics as well. Hence, they are a popular choice for treating urinary tract infection. Another beta lactam antibiotic is pivmecillinam that is very similar to mecillinam. This antibiotic is very commonly used in European countries for the treatment of UTI.
A very popular antibiotic belonging to the penicillin group is Amoxicillin. This antibiotic is widely used in the treatment of bacterial skin infections such as acne. However, amoxicillin was also prescribed for the treatment of UTI until a few years ago. The standard procedure of treating UTI was taking amoxicillin for 10 days. But now the E. coli have become resistant to the medication and in almost 25% cases the antibiotic doesn’t work.
Another form of penicillin, amoxicillin-clavulanate or Augmentin is being used these days for treating urinary tract infection in adults as well as in children. Augmentin is generally given for treating bacterial infections that have do not respond to other antibiotic treatments. However, this medication only works if the urinary tract infection is the result of rapid multiplication of Gram-positive bacteria such as those belonging to the Enterococcus and S. saprophyticus classes.
Like Augmentin, cephalosporins are also antibiotics used in the treatment of bacterial infections that have become resistant to certain antibiotics. This form of antibiotics comes in first, second and third generation. Some of the antibiotics belonging to the cephalosporins group are cefuroxin or Ceftin, cefixime or Suprax, cephalexin or Keflex and defaadroxil or Duricef. There are some more medications belonging to this group.
TMP-SMX or Trimethoprim-Sulfamethoxazole is part of 3-day course for the treatment of UTI. Some antibiotics belonging to this class are Septra, Cotrim and Bactrim. Your doctor can prescribe any three of these medications for oral use. Earlier the medication was given only for a day. But this was found to be ineffective for treating the infection though it also lowered considerably the risk of developing any side effects. In fact, antibiotic courses that are given for a week or ten days are no better than 3-day courses and they also increase the risk of developing side effects.
TMP-SMX is not advised for patients who developed urinary tract infection as a result of dental procedures. The drug is also not recommended for people who develop allergies from sulpha drugs. The reason in the latter case is that some of the allergies caused by the sulpha drugs are very potential in nature and can result in major health loss. In such cases, forms of Trimethoprim like Trimpex and Proloprim are solely used for treating UTI.
Women who are on oral contraceptives and are being treated for UTI using TMP-SMX should use another form of contraception as well as the antibiotic renders the oral contraceptive useless. But like mentioned earlier, TMP-SMX is no longer a viable medication for treating UTI since the E. coli bacteria have become immune to the antibiotic.
5. Fluoroquinolones (Quinolones)
Fluoroquinolones or quinolones are increasingly being prescribed for treating UTI in place of TMP-SMX. Some of the antibiotic medications falling in this class are ciprofloxacin or Cipro, levofloxacin or Levaquin, norfloxacin or Noroxin and ofloxacin or Floxacin. However, Fluoroquinolones are not recommended for pregnant women who have urinary tract infection. They are also not given to children because of the side effects the medication may have on their growth. As a matter of fact, this antibiotic should be recommended only in special cases.
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Doxycycline, minocycline and tetracycline are some of the antibiotics that belong to the class of Tetracyclines. These antibiotics are generally recommended if the UTI has been caused by organisms such as Chlamydia or Mycoplasma.
However, tetracyclines also have extreme side effects. People using tetracyline develop skin sensitivity to the sun. The antibiotics also result in throat soreness and tooth discoloration in some users. Tetracyclines are not recommended for pregnant women and children younger than 12 years.
Aminoglycosides such as amikacin, gentamicin and tobramycin are not given orally. These antibiotics are injected into the bodies for treating extreme cases of bacterial infections. These antibiotics are given in combination with other antibiotics. The most commonly used aminoglycoside is gentamin. These antibiotics can seriously cause damage to the kidneys and also impair hearing and sense of balance.
Nitrofurantoin is available in the form of Furadantin and Macrodantin for the treatment of UTI. This antibiotic provides an alternative to TMP-SMX. Treatment using this antibiotic lasts for normally 7-10 days. However, it cannot help treat kidney infections. The antibiotic is not recommended for pregnant women (who are close to their delivery date), nursing mothers and children. It should also not be given to patients with kidney problems.