The best way to treat a urinary tract infection is with antibiotic treatment, as it rapidly eliminates the symptoms. But aren’t there other drugs that could do the job, without the need to take antibiotics?
A paper published in the PLOS Medicine journal this week studied whether uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be treated with ibuprofen instead of antibiotics.
Why Not Take Antibiotics?
This study was mainly funded by the Research Council of Norway. The authors of the study are from Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. After reading into a German study from 2010, the authors tested if ibuprofen is a good solution in treating UTIs. The study from 2010 showed that women with UTIs that received treatment with ibuprofen recovered and didn’t need antibiotics.
Knowing that antibiotic resistance is a problem caused by the overuse of antibiotics, the authors wanted to explore if they could effectively treat uncomplicated UTIs only with ibuprofen. They performed a trial in which they recruited 383 women with symptoms of uncomplicated UTIs. The trial lasted between April 2013 and June 2016.
What Was the Result of the Trials?
The trial began with recruiting women with cystitis, some of which randomly received a 3-day treatment of ibuprofen and others received an antibiotic used in Scandinavia for UTIs (pivmecillinam).
The women that received treatment with ibuprofen took three more days to get well than the others on antibiotics.
The ibuprofen group had 46% of the patients return to their doctor after four weeks. They had either new symptoms or persisting and worsening UTI. On the other hand, only 10% of the patients that received antibiotics came back to seek medical advice.
From the group of women treated with ibuprofen, 6.6% developed a febrile UTI, and 3.9% had pyelonephritis. They all recovered after antibiotic treatment.
Over half of the patients that received ibuprofen and no antibiotics got well. The women that didn’t need to go back for an antibiotic treatment had symptoms of UTI one day longer than the women treated from the beginning with antibiotics.
In conclusion, results show that initial treatment with ibuprofen can help women reduce the use of antibiotics in symptoms of UTI. However, antibiotic treatment remains the best option for treating uncomplicated UTIs. Some women can develop complications that will need further antibiotic treatment to avoid febrile UTIs, or pyelonephritis.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.