Urinary tract infections affect may people, and can be serious. Common symptoms include abdominal pain and burning when urinating, and passing blood in the urine. Many urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria and should be treated with antibiotics such as Nitrofurantoin. However, other urinary tract infections are caused by fungal yeasts such as Candida. It is important to obtain a correct diagnosis before attempting to treat the infection, since the wrong diagnosis could make the condition worse.
Urine is normally a completely sterile liquid, entirely free from bacteria, viruses or fungi. However, under certain conditions, microbes may enter the urinary tract and multiply, causing an infection. Infection can occur in the urethra (the tube carrying urine from the bladder) where it is known as urethritis, or in the bladder; a bladder infection is called cystitis. More serious infections will affect the kidneys (pyelonephritis). Men, women and children may suffer from urinary tract infections, often for no obvious reason. However, they do occur commonly after hospital patients have been catheterized. (ref 1)
Nitrofurantoin is an antibiotic that is used specifically in the treatment bacterial urinary tract infections. The drug is available in a microcrystalline form and a macrocrystalline form (macro). The macrocrystalline form is more slowly absorbed and better tolerated by many patients. (ref 2) However, some urinary tract infections are shown to be caused by candida yeasts and not bacteria. It is important to get a correct diagnosis since treating an infection with the wrong drug could actually make the condition worse.
Fungal yeast infections (candidiasis) affect many people. Symptoms range from the superficial thrush infections of the mouth and genito-urinary areas to systemic yeast infection that originates in the gut but may affect the whole body. A number of yeasts have been shown to cause chronic urinary tract infections, including Candida albicans and Candida glabrat. Diagnosis is made more difficult since many such yeasts are found normally in healthy subjects, and so may not be identified as the source of infection. (ref 3)
Candida yeasts are found commonly in the gastro-intestinal tract and may cause no symptoms at all. However, under certain conditions the balance of gut flora is disturbed and this may allow candida yeasts to proliferate. Candida overgrowth can lead to systemic infection. Any course of antibiotics is shown to create an environment where candida yeasts are likely to over-proliferate. Antibiotics are likely to kill all bacteria, beneficial or otherwise.(ref 4) By disturbing the natural bacterial balance in the gut antibiotics such as Nitrofurantoin will cause or exacerbate an existing candida infection.
Since Nitrofurantoin is an antibiotic it is effective only in treating bacterial infections; it will not treat viral infections or indeed fungal yeast infections such as candida. In fact, taking Nitrofurantoin could actually cause or exacerbate a candida infection. Those who do take antibiotics are advised by many natural health practitioners to redress the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut by taking live yogurt or a supplement containing “good” bacteria such as Lactobacillus Acidophilus. This is claimed to help prevent candida overgrowth and a resulting yeast infection.