Bladder microbiome could cure UTIs, study

It seems like gut health is the biggest trend at the moment, however, new research conducted in Melbourne have unearthed new findings revealing the significant role microorganisms in the female balder have for overall health, too.

Researchers at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research have identified, for the first time, a collection of bacteria living in the female bladder that exists even in the presence of an infection such as a urinary tract infection (UTI), which they have christened the ‘bladder microbiome’.

Previously, scientists suspected bacteria lived in the bladder, but this is the first time those bugs have been directly studied.

However, unlike bacteria living in the stomach, there is not much for them to feed on, and even if they produced beneficial bacteria like those found in the gut, it would be difficult for our bodies to absorb them from our bladder.

The study’s leader author, Dr Forster, explains that this revolutionary study provides insight that the existence of ‘good’ bacteria in the bladder might be more useful for preventing infections, than antibiotics.

“Humans have an immune system. If we did not want those bacteria, we would kill them. The fact they are still there tells us they have a benefit.”

To conduct the research, Dr Forster and his colleagues from Australia and America isolated 149 strains of bacteria from the bladders of 77 women, using genome-sequencing technology.

The results, published in Nature Communications, found both health and disease-causing bacteria moved easily between the bladder and female reproductive tracts, even in healthy women.

“This suggests the female bladder is part of an interconnected bacterial community with the female reproductive tract,” said Dr Forster.

The discovery of the “mini microbiome” will provide scientists with a deeper understanding as to why some people are more susceptible to UTIs, and therefore, provide new approaches to effective treatment other than antibiotics.

“It raises the question: if antibiotics are used to kill the ‘bad’ bacteria in patients with UTIs, could this also upset the balance of healthy bacteria that have a protective effect, much like in the gut?”

In Australia alone, more than 70,000 people are hospitalised with kidney or UTIs each year, with one in two women and one in 20 men suffering from a UTI in their lifetime.

If you think you have a UTI, head straight to your GP. He or she will test your urine and advise whether you need antibiotics and, if you do, which one to use. Don’t start antibiotics without seeing your doctor first as this can breed antibiotic resistance.

It’s important to treat UTIs early, to prevent the infection from spreading up the urinary tract to the kidneys, where it can cause a much more severe infection and possible complications. Symptoms of a kidney infection (pyelonephritis) can include fever, chills and low back pain. If you have a UTI and develop any of these symptoms, seek medical help as soon as possible.

For more on this topic, this is why women get more UTIs than men. Plus, these are the 6 signs your gut health is out of balance.

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