For anyone who has not experienced a UTI, it is an infection that develops when bacteria enter the urethra and make their way up to your bladder. The bacteria multiply in the bladder and result in a full-blown infection. Not only are the symptoms of a UTI extremely uncomfortable, but they can also be quite painful. What’s even worse, is that neglecting to treat your UTI can have deadly consequences.
The Issue With Traditional UTI Treatment
Just like any other bacterial infection, (such as an ear infection or strep throat) a UTI has always been traditionally treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics are drugs that slow down the growth of or destroy bacteria entirely. While antibiotics are great for treating the occasional bacterial infection, the widespread overuse of them has resulted in a complex problem. This problem is called antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This means that the bacteria that cause UTIs and other infections learn how to adapt and improve their defenses against the antibiotic. This makes the antibiotic less effective at killing off infection-causing bacterial organisms.
Non-Antibiotic UTI Treatment
At this time, there are no non-antibiotic treatments for urinary tract infections that are recommended by physicians. However, research has suggested that the mineral zinc may be a viable alternative to treating UTIs with antibiotics. Researchers found that the human immune system is able to use zinc benefits for the purpose of fighting off uropathogenic Escherichia coli or UPEC. UPEC is the leading type of bacteria that cause urinary tract infections. Researchers already had knowledge that the mineral zinc has a toxic effect on bacterial organisms. While that is helpful, research with this mineral and UPEC exclusively showed that UPEC is able to stop the effects of zinc in two different ways.
UPEC has enhanced resistance to the effects that this mineral has on it. UPEC also knows how to evade the immune system response of macrophages. Fortunately, if researchers can manipulate the immune system into stopping the escape of UPEC from effects of zinc, then they have a powerful solution for treating UTIs. When treatment is developed that is effective at killing bacteria, and it is not of an antibiotic nature, the human immune system gains a huge advantage. This advantage is that the infection causing bacteria cannot develop the same resistance to non-antibiotic treatments.
Research has taken a significant leap forward in the discovery of zinc benefits against UTIs. This is due to the recent identification of the full set of UPEC genes that give it the ability to evade the mineral’s effects. The toxic effect that this mineral has on bacterial organisms is also not isolated to the UPEC type of bacteria. Research shows that this mineral can also be helpful in the destruction of other types of bacteria such as Streptococcus, Salmonella, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis.