In most cases, the best treatment for a urinary tract infection (UTI) is a course of antibiotics. Antibiotics are prescription medications that kill bacteria that cause the infection.
Which antibiotics are prescribed depend on the type of bacteria responsible for the UTI, which can be detected via a urine culture and sensitivity test.
Which antibiotics are used to treat a UTI?
The most commonly used antibiotics include:
- Trimethoprim or sulfamethoxazole
Other less commonly used antibiotics used to treat UTIs include:
How long do you need to take antibiotics for a UTI?
Antibiotics are typically prescribed for 3-7 days. The course may be extended or the prescription may change if the initial course fails to treat the infection.
For antibiotic therapy to be effective, you need to take the drugs as instructed. Many times, symptoms may seem to resolve before you complete the entire course of antibiotics. However, avoid discontinuing the course of treatment and continue to take the doses as prescribed.
If you are a female and suffer from frequent UTIs, your doctor may ask you to:
- Take a single dose of antibiotic after intercourse
- Take low-dose antibiotics for up to 5 months
- Undergo vaginal estrogen therapy if you are menopausal
How can you prevent frequent UTIs?
If you have frequent UTIs, you can help prevent recurrence with the following measures:
- Drink plenty of water: Stay hydrated by drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day to make sure you urinate frequently. Aim to maintain light-colored urine, as dark urine indicates that you aren’t drinking enough water.
- Drink cranberry juice: While studies have not shown sufficient evidence that cranberry juice works to prevent UTIs, you can try it to see if it helps.
- Avoid holding it in: If you feel the urge to pee, empty your bladder as soon as you can. It isn’t good for your urinary tract to hold in your urine for long periods of time.
- Wipe from front to back: Bacteria such as E coli. are found around the anus. To avoid transferring bacteria from the anus to the urethra, wipe from front to back after a bowel movement. This is especially important for women as their urethra is shorter than that of men, making it easier for bacteria to travel from the anus to the urinary tract.
- Urinate soon after sex: Empyting your bladder after sex is especially important for women, helping to flush out bacteria from the urinary tract.
- Avoid using irritating feminine products: Avoid scented feminine hygiene products and douching, as they can irritate the vagina and disrupt the balance of beneficial bacteria, allowing UTI-causing bacteria to grow.
- Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables: Try to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to make sure you are getting enough nutrients and vitamins that can improve your immunity and keep infections at bay.
What increases your risk of developing a UTI?
Urinary tract infections are common and affect 1 out of 5 women at some point in their lives. It affects older men more than younger men.
Factors that increase the risk of developing UTI include:
- Frequent sex
- Multiple sexual partners
- Use of certain female birth control measures by women
- Structural problems in the urinary tract
- Kidney stones
- Enlarged prostate
- Use of catheters
- Previous surgery of the urinary tract
- Weakened immune system
- Overactive bladder
- Vaginitis (infection or inflammation of the vagina)
- Sexually transmitted infections such as:
- Bladder cancer
- Prostate cancer
What are symptoms of a UTI?
Symptoms of a urinary tract infection include:
- Frequent trips to the bathroom (as frequent as 3 times in 10 minutes)
- Burning sensation when passing urine
- Uncontrollable urge to urinate
Less common signs and symptoms include:
- Dribbling micturition (passing small amounts of urine each time you pee)
- Cloudy urine
- Strong or foul-smelling urine
- Pelvic pain
Severe infection can cause blood in the urine that makes urine appear pink, brown, or reddish tinge.
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Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Urology Care Foundation. What is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) in Adults? https://www.urologyhealth.org/urology-a-z/u/urinary-tract-infections-in-adults
Brusch JL. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and Cystitis (Bladder Infection) in Females. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/233101-overview
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