Ibuprofen, a commonly used painkiller is given to women suffering from uncomplicated urinary tract infection (cystitis). However, it was found to be unsafe, as it can lead to longer duration of symptoms and increases the risk of developing a severe upper urinary tract infection.
Various studies have suggested that treatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen may support recovery of a urinary tract infection, raising the possibility that the use of antibiotics could be reduced.
‘Antibiotics can be prescribed to women suffering from simple urinary tract infection rather than prescribing Ibuprofen.’
However, the new study revealed that it is not safe to recommend Ibuprofen instead of antibiotics in uncomplicated cystitis, due to the increased risk of developing a serious upper urinary tract infection.
Using Ibuprofen could lead to longer duration of symptoms and more serious adverse events related to the spread of the primary infection.
"Initial treatment with Ibuprofen could reduce unnecessary use of antibiotics. However, until we can identify those women in need of antibiotic treatment to prevent complications, we cannot recommend Ibuprofen alone to women with uncomplicated UTIs," said researchers including Ingvild Vik from the University of Oslo in Norway.
For the study, detailed in the journal PLOS Medicine,
the team randomised 383 women with uncomplicated urinary tract infections to receive either standard treatment of antibiotics for three days or Ibuprofen as a symptomatic treatment without an antimicrobial effect.
The results showed that women assigned to receive Ibuprofen without antibiotics took three days longer to get well on an average.
Further, among women in the Ibuprofen group, twelve (6.6 percent) developed a febrile urinary tract infection, with a smaller proportion (3.9 percent) developing a serious kidney infection which did not occur in the antibiotics group, the researchers noted.