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How urinary tract infections (UTIs) negatively impact quality of life

  • More than 150 million women worldwide experience urinary tract infections (UTIs) each year.
  • Researchers from two healthcare companies report that more than half of women with UTIs suffer from lack of sleep, physical activity and sexual intimacy.
  • Scientists also found that women with recurrent UTIs experience a decrease in their health-related quality of life and productivity at work.

It is estimated that more than 150 million women worldwide have urinary tract infections (UTIs) each year.

Although UTI is a treatable condition, it can cause various symptoms that affect a person’s daily life. past research shows that recurring UTIs can affect a woman’s self-esteem and relationships. And a Study 2022 reported women with recurring UTIs experiencing negative emotions, including worry, frustration, and anger.

A new study by researchers at healthcare companies Cerner Enviza and GSK has found that more than half of women with UTIs experience a decrease in sleep, exercise and sexual intimacy. And recurrent UTIs caused a decrease in health-related quality of life.

The study appears in the journal Plus one.

Bacteria cause most urinary tract infections. Under typical conditions, bacteria that enter the urethra are flushed out. However, sometimes this does not happen and the bacteria can get into the skin bladderleading to a urinary tract infection.

Symptoms of a urinary tract infection include:

While any woman can experience UTIs, some are at greater risk of developing UTIs than others. This includes women who:

There are two main types of UTIs. according to dr Jennifer Linehan, urologist and associate professor of urology and urologic oncology at Saint John’s Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA uncomplicated UTI occurs when someone gets a UTI with no mitigating factors and is treatable with antibiotics.

“A complicated UTI (may occur in someone) who has altered anatomy, may have a catheter, may have kidney stones, or may have urinary tract obstruction at some point,” explained Dr. Linehan Medical news today. “Or maybe they have a fistula that’s causing the urinary tract infection. All these things are complicated.”

For this study, the researchers conducted an online survey of 375 women ages 18 and older from the United States. All of them had suffered a urinary tract infection in the past 60 days with the prescription of one or more oral antibiotics.

The survey included questions about how UTIs affected participants’ activities, health-related quality of life, workplace productivity, use of health resources, and costs.

Upon analysis, the researchers found that 66.9% of the participants had impaired sexual intercourse, 60.8% had impaired sleep, and 52.3% had an impaired ability to exercise.

Participants with UTIs also had increased work productivity and activity impairment, and had higher medical costs.

“As a woman who gets a UTI, I can be aware that when you have a UTI, it’s very difficult to work, very difficult to sleep, and even more difficult to exercise,” explained Dr. Linehan. “The sensation of urination, like the burning sensation, etc. that occurs with urinary tract infection is one of the most damaging stimuli to the brain. And one of the reasons I know that is when I’m operating on patients and doing simple things like even putting a camera in the bladder, if I overfill the bladder, the patient will literally wake up from the anesthesia. The stimuli are so damaging to the brain.”

“So when you’re in the middle of a UTI, it’s a really intense infection (and) it’s downright uncomfortable,” she added. “You can’t think or do anything other than deal with it.”

MNT also spoke to dr. S. Adam Ramin, a urologist and medical director of Urology Cancer Specialists in Los Angeles, CA, about this study. He wasn’t surprised by the results either.

“[These results]essentially make everyone understand that UTI is not a disease process that should be taken lightly,” said Dr. Ramin. “It is important that we pay attention to our patients’ symptoms and act accordingly when treating them.”

dr However, Ramin emphasized that this study was a self-report, with participants reporting that they had a urinary tract infection.

“We know that there is a certain percentage of patients who don’t have a true UTI but have the symptoms of a UTI,” he said. “In this study, it was not analyzed very precisely whether these patients actually had a urinary tract infection or not, although they were all treated with antibiotics. We also know that many doctors treat patients with UTI symptoms without doing one urine culture.”

Because of this, said Dr. Ramin, it would be good to have a study on people with culturally diagnosed UTIs. And it has been suggested to also include participants who may have culturally diagnosed UTI but who do not have symptoms.

“Obviously, those who are symptomatic are also those who are going to have a lower quality of life,” he explained. “If there were any future studies, we would like to see how quality of life affects patients who may not have symptoms or may not necessarily know they have UTI unless cultured.”

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