A prior history of urinary tract infections is considered to be a significant risk factor for developing new infections in the future. But why does a history of UTIs leave us more prone to future infections?
New research shows that pathogenic E. Coli can leave an imprint on the bladder lining, making it easier for future infections to take hold.
There is new(ish) evidence emerging that recurrent UTIs, also known as chronic cystitis, are not always caused by a reinfection with a new pathogen but rather can be a relapse of the same pathogen.
It turns out that pathogenic bacteria have the ability to invade the cells of the bladder and live there in a dormant sleep-like state.
This is called an ‘intracellular bacterial community’.
In this state, the bacteria remain undetected by standard urine testing and unaffected by antibiotic treatment. They also remain undetected by our own immune system.
Now and again they can leave the cells, causing a relapse of the urinary tract infection.
For anyone who has read my own story, you may remember that repeated courses of antibiotics for chronic UTIs kicked off my interstitial cystitis a few years ago. Can antibiotics cause interstitial cystitis and chronic UTIs? For me, they have definitely played a big role.
This question has been at the back of my mind for a while and today I would like to take a look at some of the scientific evidence to answer this question.
In my last post I looked at the GAG layer in the bladder and how damage to it can cause problems for the bladder lining, a.k.a the bladder urothelium.
When the bladder urothelium gets damaged it can lose its integrity and become ‘leaky’ or ‘hyper-permeable’. Molecules that shouldn’t normally leave the bladder can get into the space (‘interstitium’ – hence interstitial cystitis) between the layers of the tissue and into the blood.
The so-called GAG layer plays an important role in protecting the bladder lining (epithelium) against anything that enters the bladder.
When this protective layer is disturbed, the sensitive bladder lining is exposed to irritation and attack. From this, sensitivity, pain and other problems can arise.
A damaged GAG layer has been established to play a big role in the pathogenesis of interstitial cystitis.