When women came down with urinary tract infections that cause frequency, urgency or pain on urination, the standard antibiotic course used to be 7 to 14 days. Now, doctors more often prescribe a shorter course of antibiotics, 3 to 5 days. However, this change has not been adopted for treating men.
Testing a Shorter Course of Antibiotics for Men:
Men are less prone to such infections, but if they do come down with one, current treatment generally lasts two weeks. A study from two VA Hospitals compared seven days of treatment to the standard 14 days (JAMA, July 27, 2021).
How Well Did Men Do With Just One Week of Pills?
The investigators found that the shorter course of antibiotics worked just as well, at least in men who were not running a fever. At two weeks after diagnosis, there was no significant difference in symptoms between the two groups. Moreover, they also did not differ with regard to side effects or recurrence of symptoms after treatment.
“For men with symptoms of lower UTI without fever or other evidence of systemic disease, 7 days of antibiotics should become a standard approach and shorter courses of therapy may be equally effective.”
Previously, doctors worried that shortening the course of antibiotics would fail to knock out the infection. As a result, the bacteria might have a chance to develop resistance. Current thinking favors less exposure to antibiotics overall to reduce the risk of resistance. Seven days of treatment seemed to knock the infection out, supporting the “less is best” approach.