Issue: July 2013
July 01, 2013
1 min read

UTI symptoms often improved for women 
who delayed antibiotics

Issue: July 2013
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More than one-third of women with symptoms of urinary tract infections opted to delay antibiotic treatment, and most of these women reported improvement of symptoms after 1 week, according to study data published in BMC Family Practice.

“Many women with UTI symptoms may be willing to delay antibiotic treatment if they are well-informed about the disadvantages of antibiotics, the high chance of spontaneous recovery and the very low risk of infections progressing to the kidneys,” Bart J. Knottnerus, MD, PhD, of the department of general practice, Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam, told Infectious Disease News. “As a result of increasing media attention, people are becoming more aware of the dangers of bacterial resistance, and our findings seem to correspond with this increasing awareness.”

Knottnerus and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study from April 18, 2006, to Oct. 8, 2006. Healthy, non-pregnant women were recruited from 20 general practices around Amsterdam. The women presented with painful and/or frequent urination and provided urine samples for urinalysis and culture. The physicians were asked to suggest delaying antibiotic treatment before knowing the culture results.

There were 176 eligible women; 137 of whom were asked to delay antibiotic treatment. Of these, 51 (37%) were willing to delay. After 1 week, 28 of the 51 women had not used antibiotics, and 20 of the 28 women experienced clinical improvement or cure. There was no difference in severity of baseline symptoms between women willing to delay treatment and women not willing to delay treatment.

“Although not using antibiotics is safe and many women will spontaneously get better in a week, many others won’t,” Knottnerus said. “It would be useful to identify these women by specific combinations of symptoms and/or urine test results. A future research step might be to investigate whether we can predict which women will benefit from antibiotics and which women won’t.”


Knottnerus B. BMC Family Practice. 2013;doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-71.

Bart J. Knottnerus, MD, PhD, can be reached at Department of General Practice, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, PO Box 22700, 1100 Amsterdam, DE, the Netherlands; email:

Disclosure: Knottnerus reports no relevant financial disclosures.