Serious Side Effects for a Common Concern
Urinary tract infections are extremely common in women, and even more so among pregnant women. During the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, women are at an increased risk of developing a UTI. Treatment for this infection typically includes antibiotics, some of which can leave life-threatening adverse reactions for mom and baby.
A urinary tract infection is a bacterial infection of the urinary system. It develops when bacteria comes in contact with the urethra, ureters, bladder or kidneys. Women are more susceptible to UTIs because they have shorter urethras, providing bacteria quicker access to the bladder. Symptoms include:
- An intense urge to use the bathroom while your bladder is empty
- Burning sensation while urinating
- Lower back and abdominal pain
- Pelvic pain
- Bloody urine
- Fever or chills (which indicates the infection has spread to the kidneys)
Other contributors to urinary tract infections include sexual activity, a suppressed immune system, certain types of birth control, menopause and any other blockages in the urinary tract.
Treating Urinary Tract Infections During Pregnancy
Bacterial infections need to be treated with antibiotics to ensure the infection completely goes away. Although some antibiotics pose certain risks to unborn babies, not using an antibiotic to treat an infection could cause more harm. For that reason, doctors will recommend the safest option and most efficient treatment. Doctors even use the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s list of Pharmaceutical Pregnancy Categories to help prescribe antibiotics that are safe to use during pregnancy.
These Pharmaceutical Pregnancy Categories rank in five letters — A, B, C, D and X — to indicate the level of safety of drugs for pregnant women. The most unsafe rankings are X and D, and are strongly advised against. The safest rankings are A and B. Drugs and antibiotics with a C ranking are somewhat safe, but it is important to know they may cause a level of risk. Some of the common antibiotics used during pregnancy include:
- Amoxicillin — B ranking
- Nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin) — B ranking
- Erythromycin — B ranking
- Ciproflaxacin (Cipro) — C ranking
Whenever taking antibiotics, it is important to only take what is prescribed. An excess of any drug, especially while pregnant, can prove to be dangerous to a mother’s health and her baby’s growth. Pregnant women are at an increased risk of developing bad reactions from drugs, specifically from fluoroquinolones. Studies have found these drugs can be toxic to a growing fetus, especially when taken in excess and not as a physician prescribed. Pregnant women taking fluoroquinolones should take only what is prescribed and with a level of caution.
How to Prevent UTIs
It is common for urinary tract infections to resurface over time. However, there are ways to reduce the likelihood of developing another infection. To prevent a UTI, you should:
- Wipe from front to back after using the bathroom.
- Stay hydrated! Increase your water intake while treating the infection, and drink at least 6 – 8 glasses of water regularly.
- Drink unsweetened cranberry juice, which can eliminate the presence of unwanted bacteria in the body.
- Avoid sexual activity while being treated for an infection.
- Wear cotton underwear to wick away moisture and maintain good hygiene habits.
Kiara Anthony earned her undergraduate degree in Mass Communications from Towson University, and her graduate degree in Communications from Trinity Washington University. She regularly contributes to Drugwatch.com, along with other publications.