Antibiotic resistance is changing the way urinary infections are treated

3 February 2014

Lower urinary tract infections are common and treatment is usually simple, but antibiotic resistance is having an impact on the way these infections are treated, according to a new article by Thomas Jarvis, Lewis Chan and Thomas Gottlieb from the University of Sydney, in Australian Prescriber.

Symptoms of an infection usually include needing to urinate often or having an urgent need to urinate, painful urination, and cloudy or foul smelling urine. Urinary infections are responsible for many doctor visits and antibiotic prescriptions in Australia. One in three women will have an infection during their lifetime.

“Managing uncomplicated urinary infections in women is usually quite simple and involves antibiotic treatment for three to five days,” say the authors.

Often a doctor will recommend for you to start antibiotics based on your symptoms, however because of increasing antibiotic resistance, urine testing may be needed to ensure you have been prescribed the most appropriate antibiotic.

Sometimes urinary infections are more complicated because of kidney, prostate or bladder disease. Infections may also recur and this can be due to a number of different factors including sexual activity, diabetes or contraceptive devices. These infections need to be investigated further by your doctor. If an infection does not respond to an antibiotic, it may be because it is caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Further investigations and a different antibiotic may be needed.

“With the rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the more challenging cases of urinary tract infections need to be treated by your doctor, who might involve the expertise of a urologist or microbiologist rather than continuing to simply prescribe antibiotics which may be causing antibiotic resistance without effectively treating the problem,” say the authors.

To read the full article and others visit

Individuals with questions about their medicine can call NPS Medicines Line (1300 MEDICINE or 1300 633 424), Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm AEST.

Other articles in this edition of Australian Prescriber include:

· Different types of urinary incontinence need different treatment


Australian Prescriber is an independent peer-reviewed journal providing critical commentary on therapeutic topics for health professionals, particularly doctors in general practice. It is published every two months and distributed to health professionals free of charge, and is also available online at 

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