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Prone To UTIs? Vaccine Is in the Works

If you have to urinate frequently, pain when urinating or lower back discomfort, you might have a urinary tract infection. (UTI).

UTIs are more prevalent in women, with about 50 percent to 60 percent of women suffering from UTIs by the age of 54, compared with only 12 percent of men in a lifetime.

Researchers in the United States and Europe are working on a vaccine to help those with persistent UTIs. While a finalized vaccine isn’t in the immediate future, the researchers’ insights show how cutting-edge medicine can change patients’ lives for the better.

What Causes a UTI?

The urinary tract is made up of the ureters, urethra, kidneys, bladder and renal pelvis. If bacteria contaminate urine moving through this system, that can cause infection, resulting in a UTI. The most common kinds of bacteria that cause UTIs are E. coli and pseudomonas.

Infections usually occur when there is an imbalance in the flora in the labia, bladder or vagina. Some reasons for this may include:

  • Urethra length. A woman’s urethra is short, which means a shorter distance for bacteria to travel to the bladder. Men have longer urethras, so they may have more protection against bacteria.

  • Menopause. Estrogen decreases throughout menopause. This makes women more vulnerable to infection because of changes in the urinary tract. Menopausal women also have a thicker vaginal wall, which loses the ability to keep bacteria out over time.

  • Low bladder volume. This means you aren’t flushing out urine and bacteria regularly. This is typically caused by dehydration.

Some risks specific to men include kidney stones or an enlarged prostate, which can block urine from passing through the bladder.

How Your Urologist Can Help

Once your symptoms are assessed, UTIs are usually diagnosed by a urologist. Your doctor will administer a urinalysis and urine culture to check the kind and type of bacteria. If your urine has a bacteria colony of more than 100,000 per unit, you may have a UTI.

Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. This treatment usually lasts between three to seven days, depending on the severity of your symptoms. A solution of apple cider vinegar and water may help with UTI recurrence and prevention.

Vaccine in the Future?

There currently is no vaccine for UTIs available in the United States, but there may be a groundbreaking strategy in the pipeline. Researchers from Duke Health shared their study, which aims to enable the body to effectively attack the bacteria that cause UTIs.

The vaccine would be given directly into the bladder where bacteria harbors, helping the immune system to fight them off. This vaccine could be especially useful for those who struggle with recurring or persistent UTIs.

Multidrug resistant bacteria can be difficult to treat, and if antibiotics are frequently used to treat UTIs, there’s an increased risk for an imbalance in the flora.

If you suspect you have a UTI, talk to your doctor who can refer you to a urologist. Early diagnosis can help with effective treatment.


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