Thousands of women were taken to hospital with chronic urinary tract infections in the past year, according to NHS figures that reveal a striking rise in the numbers seeking medical help for the condition.
Experts warned that the increase could be linked to a crackdown on the prescribing of antibiotics by GPs owing to fears about antimicrobial resistance (AMR), resulting in some patients developing intractable infections that require admission to hospital.
Prof James Malone Lee, a recently retired NHS consultant who continues to run a private practice in London said a continued reliance on inadequate tests means that patients are sometimes wrongly told that antibiotic medication won’t help. Many of these women, he said, are being diagnosed with “interstitial cystitis” (meaning cystitis symptoms, but with no evidence of an infection) or painful bladder syndrome.
Dr Catriona Anderson, a GP specialised in treating UTIs agreed that a shift towards prescribing three-day courses of antibiotics meant that some patients were being left with residual infection.
“If you have a thousand enemy soldiers coming over the hill, you don’t just send in a single sniper,” she said. “You need to go in and hit the infection hard. If you just tickle the bug with an insufficient dose of antibiotic, you drive resistance.”