Outsmarting antibiotic resistance to treat UTIs: Scientists successfully use alternative sugar molecules as decoys to trick E.coli bacteria
04/12/2018 // Jessica Dolores // Views

It's a feeling many women are familiar with. They rush to the nearest bathroom to empty their bladder. They try to pass off urine but can't. The urine comes in trickles. And when it does, the pain is unbearable. The mild burning sensation is scary.

The culprit: Urinary tract infection or UTI. Urologists often prescribe antibiotics. But some infections have grown resistant to repeated antibiotic use.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have good news for UTI patients. The scientists have come up with an alternative to antibiotics -- galactoside, a modified version of galactose, a sugar molecule found in urinary tissues. Researchers found that bacteria in the bladders and kidneys of mice with galactoside decreased a hundredfold. The number of bacteria went down a thousandfold when  mice were treated with mannoside  and galactoside. Mannoside is a modified form of the sugar molecule mannose.

Unlike antibiotics, which kill off all bacteria, galactosides and mannosides flush out disease-causing agents in the area of the body where they can do damage. Researchers say flushing out bacteria is better than forcing them to die. The latter method puts the body in danger of hosting new forms of bacteria that have evolved from previous ones. (Related: Antibiotics for UTI infections: Here's what works without resorting to dangerous drugs.)

Home remedies

Meanwhile, UTI sufferers can seek relief from natural remedies that, unlike antibiotics, do not put them at risk for drug resistance and side effects.


These natural remedies are:

  •  Water. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases says this natural cleansing agent flushes away infection-causing bacteria and speeds up recovery. The Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine adds that most people are assured of adequate water intake by drinking when they feel thirsty. The recommended amount is 125 ounces and 91 ounces daily for men and women, respectively, including water from food.
  • Vitamin C. Huge doses of  this vitamin increases urine acidity. Johns Hopkins Medicine's health library explains that this prevents bacteria from growing in the urinary tract.
  • Heat application. Putting a heating pad directly over skin for 15 minutes can help reduce inflammation, burning, pressure and pain around the pubic area.
  • Removing bladder irritants from your diet. People with UTI must stay away from caffeine, alcohol, spicy food, nicotine, carbonated drinks, and artificial sweeteners. They irritate the bladder and slow down the healing process.
  • Emptying the  bladder again and again. Passing off even a little amount of urine can help you get rid of the infection. Ignoring the urge to go to the bathroom will only raise the chances of more bacteria entering your body.
  • Going herbal. Uva ursi or bearberry leaf is sometimes used to cure lower urinary tract infections. The herb goldenseal may be used as a remedy for UTIs, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
  • Healthier habits. Women should wipe themselves from front to back every time they pass urine. Quitting cigarette smoking, wearing loose cotton clothes and underwear, and sticking to chemical-free hygiene products also help.

Left unchecked, UTI can damage the kidneys for good, lead to  life-threatening infections called sepsis, and urethral narrowing in men. It's best to prevent it before it's too late.

Visit RealScience.news for more examples of real science solving problems.

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