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Antibiotic duration for treating uncomplicated symptomatic lower urinary tract infection in elderly women

Lutters M, Vogt-Ferrier NB
Published Online: 
16 July 2008

As people age (especially women), they become more prone to infections in the bladder (UTI - urinary tract infections). Older people are more likely to have adverse reactions to drugs. Up to the present time older women with uncomplicated UTI were treated longer than younger patients - without any scientific evidence and with an increased risk of adverse drug reactions. We defined three groups of treatment durations: single-dose, short (3 to 6 days) and longer courses (7 to 14 days).

We identified 15 studies (1644 elderly women) comparing single dose, short-course (3 to 6 days) and long course (7 to 14 days) antibiotic treatment for uncomplicated symptomatic UTI in elderly women. Our review suggests that single dose treatments are less effective than short or long courses, but better accepted by the patients. On the other hand longer courses may have more side effects. On the basis of the evidence available at present, an antibiotic treatment of 3 to 6 days could be sufficient for treating uncomplicated UTIs in elderly women, although more studies on specific, commonly prescribed antibiotics are needed.