Urinary tract infections, also known as UTIs, are a common condition that affects many women. A new study may lead to more convenient treatments for women, reports CBS News Health Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay.
Most women in the U.S. will have at least one urinary tract infection in their lifetime. Between 20 and 30 percent of those women will get a UTI three or more times a year. While antibiotics are effective in treating the condition, the patient needs a doctor's diagnosis and a prescription.
But that could change. According to a recent study from the University of Washington, researchers following the medical histories of 121 women who had recurring UTIs found the patients were able to both self-diagnose and treat their infections without a doctor's help.
When the women experienced symptoms such as frequent or burning urination, they immediately began taking the antibiotics they were given for the study. Lab tests confirmed that 84 percent of the 176 diagnoses were made correctly.
Researchers say self-diagnosis and treatment would spare women from the discomfort and delay that comes with waiting for a doctor's appointment and lab results. Self-diagnosis would also lower their health care costs.
Urologists who spoke to CBS News admitted that they already allow some of their longterm UTI patients to self-diagnose, and give women advance prescriptions if they think they can make the right decision. Women who recognize the symptoms can take the medicine right away and stop the infection before it becomes serious.
However, if symptoms don't disappear in a few days after taking antibiotics, or if they find they are getting symptoms more than four times a year, women should consult a doctor.
While men also get UTIs, it's far more common among women because it's easier for bacteria to reach a woman's urinary tract and cause an infection. Older men appear to be at greater risk that young men for UTIs. Sometimes they have enlarged prostates that make it more difficult to rid bacteria from the urinary tract.
Reported By Dr. Emily Senay