March 20 (UPI) -- Antibiotics helped curb chronic urinary tract infection symptoms in women, according to a study in Britain.
Researchers at University College London analyzed the case studies of 624 women from 2004 to 2014 at the Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms Clinic at the Whittington Hospital, which is the only outpatient clinic in Britain that specializes in treating chronic urinary tract infections.
Their findings were published Tuesday in the International Urogynecology Journal.
"Oral antibiotics are an effective treatment for chronic urinary tract infections and support the idea that the symptoms are caused by bacterial infections," Sheela Swamy, a researcher at University College London, said in a press release. "These results provide preliminary data to inform further randomized control trials."
Chronic urinary tract infections are more common in women than men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as up to 12 percent of women may have early symptoms.
Nearly half of adults older than 20 will experience at least one lower urinary tract symptom by 2018, which is an 18 percent increase in one decade, according to research published in 2011 in the urology journal BJUI.
The bladder condition, known as interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome, is thought to be caused by inflammation when nerve endings in the bladder become over-sensitized.
Diagnostic tests for urinary tract infections are often inaccurate and fail to detect many different strains of bacteria that can cause infection but it can be managed through bladder instillations, surgical interventions and certain medications.
In the study, most of the patients had already experienced symptoms for more than six years and reported no relief from treatment.
The women were treated with a full dose of first-line, narrow spectrum oral antibiotics such as cefalexin, nitrofurantoin or trimethoprim, along with the urinary antiseptic Hiprex. In addition, All patients were given antibiotics to use at home at the first indication of their symptoms resurging.
Overall, 64 percent of the women said their situation was "very much better," and another 20 percent said they were "much better."
Often, patients needed more than a year and more than one cycle of treatment for the symptoms to resolve.