I can't imagine many things more frustrating than being told the physical pain you're experiencing is all in your head. Yet that's what happens to many women when their tests for urinary tract infections (UTIs) come back negative after they report symptoms like pain when urinating or needing to urinate frequently or urgently. But the problem isn't in the women's minds. It's in the tests.
When women come to their doctors with these symptoms, a standard bacterial test is done. In about 60-80% of cases, the test comes back positive. The women are given a short course of antibiotics, and usually everything is fine in a few days. But what about the 20-40% of women who get a negative result? They're often told they have a vague condition called “urethral syndrome” (which could all be in their heads) and sent home without treatment.
I think it's a shame to rely so heavily on tests that fail to address symptoms. And I think it's particularly shameful in these cases. That's because research recently published in Clinical Microbiology and Infection has found that the standard test often isn't sensitive enough.
In fact, researchers at the University of Ghent in Belgium found evidence of an infection in 98.2% of the 220 women in their study who complained of UTI symptoms. All they did was use a more sensitive test. And because they got such a high result, they came to a simple solution: if a woman has symptoms of a UTI, she probably has a UTI. In fact, they're so confident in this that they think testing is unnecessary altogether!
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I think that in this case, addressing the actual symptoms is much wiser than relying on a possibly unreliable test. After all, if someone has painful symptoms, they need help! I just have two caveats — particularly since I don't believe in prescribing antibiotics blindly.
One is that sometimes the urge to urinate frequently is a bladder function issue, not an infection issue. If this is the case, Advanced Bladder Support can help by providing muscle support and reducing inflammation.
The second is that I think this is an issue that can often be treated with ozone rather than antibiotics. With antibiotic resistance on the rise, I think it's best to use them sparingly and only when necessary. Since ozone can work just as well, I think that should be the first line of defense.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD