UTI is caused by a bacterial invasion of any part of the urinary system. Find out some of the most commonly used antibiotics for this condition, in this article.
Improper use and abuse of antibiotics, like their unnecessary use, and not finishing the entire course, can cause bacteria to develop resistance to those antibiotics.
An infection of the urinary tract is quite common among women, though men can also get this condition at times. The term urinary tract infection (UTI) refers to an infection in any part of the urinary system, which includes the ureter, urethra, bladder, and the kidneys.
Infections of the urinary tract are usually caused by bacteria. Bacteria may enter the urethra from the anus or gastrointestinal tract, and also from the vagina, and then move upwards to the bladder and other parts of the urinary tract. Women have a shorter urethra, and it is located very close to the anus and vagina. This can be the reason why women are more vulnerable to urinary tract infections, as compared to men. The bacteria, Escherichia coli or E.coli, have been found to be mainly responsible for causing urinary tract infections. Urinary tract infections are usually treated with antibiotics.
The signs and symptoms of an urinary tract infection are:
✧ Pain or a burning sensation while urinating
✧ A strong or frequent urge to urinate
✧ Presence of blood in urine or hematuria
✧ Cloudy or murky urine
✧ Presence of a foul odor in the urine
✧ Pain in the pubic region
Sometimes, vomiting, nausea, and fever can also be caused by an infection of the urinary tract.
A number of tests and examinations, such as urinalysis, CT scan of the urinary tract, and cystoscopy are conducted to find out, if the aforementioned symptoms are produced by an infection of the urinary tract. Physicians usually prescribe appropriate antibiotics to cure urinary tract infections. The antibiotics that are more commonly recommended for this purpose are:
✧ Trimethoprim/Sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX)
It is a sulfa antibiotic that contains trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole in the ratio of 1:5. So, it cannot be used by people allergic to sulfa drugs. This medication can affect the effectiveness of contraceptives. Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole is a pregnancy category C medicine, which means that animal studies have revealed some adverse effects on the developing fetus, but there are no adequate human studies in this regard.
The risks associated with taking this medication during breastfeeding are minimal. This sulfa antibiotic can sometimes produce an allergic reaction, along with loss of appetite, diarrhea, headache, and a sensitivity of the skin to sunlight.
These broad-spectrum antibacterial drugs belong to the class of quinolones. They are usually employed for treating a serious bacterial infection, especially when other antibiotics fail to produce the desired effects. Ofloxacin, ciprofloxacin, norfloxacin, and levofloxacin are some common fluoroquinolones prescribed for a severe infection of the urinary tract.
Fluoroquinolones can increase the risk of tendinitis and tendon rupture, especially in the elderly. Rare but serious side effects also include central nervous system toxicity and cardiotoxicity. These antibiotics are usually not given to children, and pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Tetracyclines are another class of broad-spectrum antibiotics that are primarily used for treating urinary tract infections, caused by Mycoplasma or Chlamydia. These antibiotics are derived from the Streptomyces bacteria. Abdominal cramps, an increased sensitivity of the skin to sunlight, and diarrhea are of some of the common side effects associated with tetracyclines.
In children, these antibiotics can not only cause permanent teeth discoloration, but can slow down the growth of bones as well. Therefore, tetracyclines are usually not prescribed to children younger than 8 years old. These antibiotics should also be avoided by pregnant and breastfeeding women. Tetracyclines are pregnancy category D drugs, which means that they can harm the developing fetus. Therefore, these medications are usually not prescribed to pregnant women, unless the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks.
Amoxicillin is often referred to as penicillin-like antibiotic. It is used for treating a number of bacterial infections, such as pneumonia, gonorrhea, infections of the ears, nose, and throat, and bronchitis, along with urinary tract infections.
However, amoxicillin can cause a few side effects, such as upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting. Moreover, this medicine can reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills. Amoxicillin is a pregnancy category B medicine, and hence, it can be taken by a pregnant woman under the supervision of her health care provider.
Ampicillin is another penicillin-like antibiotic that is commonly used for treating bronchitis, pneumonia, infections of the ear, nose, and throat, and urinary tract infections. It is a beta-lactam antibiotic that belongs to the aminopenicillin family. As far as spectrum and the level of activity are concerned, it is similar to amoxicillin.
The most common side effects associated with this drug are, an upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, and skin rash. Though serious side effects are not so common, people allergic to penicillin can experience allergic reactions to ampicillin as well. A severe allergic reaction to any drug calls for immediate medical intervention.
Cephalosporins are a class of broad-spectrum, semi-synthetic antibiotics derived from the mold, Cephalosporium. They comprise the largest and the most diverse family of beta-lactam antibiotics. Cephalosporins are usually classified as first, second, and third generation.
A few side effects, such as an upset stomach, mild abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can be experienced after taking these antibiotics. Cephalosporins have been assigned to pregnancy category B by the FDA, which means that there are no known adverse effects on the fetus. Cephalexin, cefadroxil, cefuroxime, cefuroxime, and cefixime are some important cephalosporin antibiotics used for the treatment of urinary tract infections.
Furadantin, macrobid, and macrodantin are some common nitrofurantoin antibiotics available in the market that are employed for treating urinary tract infections, basically as alternatives to TMP-SMX. However, nitrofurantoin is generally not used for treating kidney infections.
Nitrofurantoin is safe to be used during pregnancy, as it has been classified as a pregnancy category B drug by the FDA. The side effects that can be commonly experienced while taking this medication are gas, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Sometimes, the urine can also turn brown when nitrofurantoin is taken.
These are the bactericidal antibiotics that basically work by inhibiting the synthesis of protein by the bacteria. These antibiotics are usually administered intravenously, as they are not properly absorbed when taken orally. Gentamicin, tobramycin, and amikacin are some common aminoglycosides used for treating a serious bacterial infection. Out of these, gentamicin is more commonly used for treating a severe urinary tract infection.
Aminoglycosides are used only when other antibiotics have failed to cure the infection. However, they are not so effective in destroying anaerobic bacteria. Aminoglycosides fall into the pregnancy category D. This means that these antibiotics can have adverse effects on human fetus. Moreover, an excessive use of aminoglycosides can damage the kidneys and ears.
Fosfomycin is another common antibiotic used for urinary tract infections. It usually comes as granules that can be mixed with water, and then taken orally. The side effects associated with this antibiotic include nausea, diarrhea, and headache. Fosfomycin can be taken during pregnancy, as it has been assigned to pregnancy category B by the FDA.
Pregnant women should be very careful while taking any kind of medications during those nine months. They should always confirm with their physician or health care provider before taking medications for an underlying health condition. The following antibiotics are usually used for treating infections of the urinary tract during pregnancy:
Like pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers should also maintain a few precautions while taking medications, as some medications can be excreted in breast milk. Antibiotics that are generally used for the treatment of UTI in breastfeeding women are:
Any kind of antibiotics should be taken only under the supervision of a physician. The antibiotic that is to be used for the treatment of a specific case of UTI can be determined only after evaluating the condition, and this can be done only by a certified physician. Certain antibiotics can also interact with both over-the-counter and prescription medications. Therefore, it is important to disclose all kinds of information related to your health, and the type of medications you are taking to your health care provider, before considering to take antibiotics for UTI.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.