Researchers find clues: Why bladder infections keep recurring
Almost every second woman suffers from cystitis at least once in her life. E-coli bacteria are usually the cause of urinary tract infections. Researchers have now found clues as to why the infections keep coming back.
Painful cystitis mainly affects women
Discomfort when urinating, increased urge to urinate, pain in the area of the bladder: Urinary tract infections are truly a pain. It is mostly girls and women who contract a bladder infection (cystitis). In most cases, the disease is triggered by Escherichia coli bacteria (E. coli bacteria), which bite into the urethra and migrate up to the bladder. The infections usually come back again and again. US researchers have now found clues as to why this is so.
How cystitis develops
To protect yourself from urinary tract infections, it is important to know how it can happen. Already in grandmother's day, people were warned not to sit on cold floors because they can catch cold on the bladder.
And that is also the case, because cold increases the risk of infection in the pelvic area. This is also a reason why wet bathing suits and swimming trunks should be changed immediately after swimming.
In addition, painful cystitis caused by sex is not uncommon. According to health experts, frequent sexual intercourse increases the risk of inflammation because it irritates the mucous membranes and makes them more susceptible to infection ("honeymoon cystitis").
Therefore, it is advised to go to the toilet "afterwards" in order to naturally flush out the pathogens.
Infections keep coming back
Cystitis is the second most common reason for prescribing antibiotics. But despite the drug treatment, the infections keep coming back in many women.
Researchers from the United States have now taken a step closer to the question of why this is so. As the scientists from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis report in the journal "PLOS Pathogens", studies with mice indicate that a vaginal bacterium plays an important role in the recurrence of the disease.
According to the researchers, it was found that the Gardnerella vaginalis bacterium, which is low in the number of bacteria in the vaginal flora and is known to cause vaginal inflammation, causes E. coli bacteria that were still hiding in the bladder after an infection had survived to cause new infection.
Urinary tract infection after sexual intercourse
According to the scientists, Gardnerella vaginalis itself did not cause infection if it got into the urinary tract, but it damaged cells on the surface of the bladder and caused E. coli bacteria from a previous infection to reproduce, which led to a new flare-up .
Her findings could also explain why some women have cystitis after intercourse.
"Many women swear that they get a urinary tract infection every time they have sex, and that is obviously a huge burden," study author Amanda Lewis of Washington University said in a statement.
"We have no doubt that a re-infection with E. coli is partly responsible, but we think that we have found another convincing reason why there could be a connection between sexual activity and recurrent urinary tract infections: vaginal bacteria like G. vaginalis are pushed into the urinary tract during sex. "
Alternatives to antibiotics
To protect against a recurring urinary tract infection, it could help to combat Gardnerella vaginalis with medication. To do this, other antibiotics would probably have to be used than against E-coli bacteria.
However, in times of increasing resistance, the search for alternative treatment strategies should be much more in focus.
To this end, researchers from the University of Basel and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich have gained important new knowledge in a study.
According to the experts, drugs would be a suitable alternative for the prevention and control of E. coli infections, which already block the first attachment of bacteria in the urinary tract, because this would often make the use of antibiotics unnecessary.
"This opens up the possibility of reducing the high use of antibiotics and preventing the development of resistance," the experts wrote in a message. (ad)