Treating Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

Treatment for urinary tract infections depends on the bacteria causing the infection, the location and severity of infection and your overall health. With treatment, symptoms most UTIs will clear up within a few days.

Treating simple infections

Simple infections are usually treated with antibiotics. Your doctor will choose the drug believed to be the most effective for your type of infection. The most common generic drugs used for UTIs are:

  • Amoxicillin
  • Ampicillin
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Levofloxacin
  • Nitrofurantoin
  • Sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim

If your doctor prescribes an antibiotic, make sure you take every dose and continue taking the medication even after you start to feel better. This will help ensure the bacteria that caused the infection are completely gone, and it will reduce your chances of repeat infection or a secondary infection.

If you are having pain or discomfort, your doctor may also prescribe a pain-relieving medication, such as phenazopyridine (brand name Pyridium), to numb your bladder and urethra.

Treating severe infections

Some infections are severe and need aggressive treatment so they don't lead to serious complications, like permanent kidney damage. Aggressive treatment may include a hospital stay so you can receive IV antibiotics to address the infection and fluids to keep you hydrated.

Treating recurrent infections

If you have frequent or recurrent urinary tract infections, your doctor may recommend additional treatments, including:

  • A longer course of antibiotics
  • A short course of antibiotics as soon as your symptoms begin
  • A single dose of antibiotic after sexual intercourse (if your infections tend to occur after intercourse)
  • Vaginal estrogen therapy for post-menopausal women

If you have signs of symptoms of a urinary tract infection, call your doctor right away.

If you have UTI symptoms accompanied by a high fever, severe pain or vomiting, seek emergency treatment.

Home treatment

Some people who are looking for alternative medicine or home remedies drink cranberry juice to help prevent or fight UTIs. Although there is some evidence that cranberry juice may help prevent urinary tract infections, there is no guarantee it will work. If you have frequent or recurrent UTIs, drinking cranberry juice shouldn't hurt, but you will still likely need to have medical treatment.

Don't drink cranberry juice if you are taking a blood thinning medication/anticoagulant like Warfarin as it can increase the risk of bleeding.

Learn more about UTIs

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