A Doctor's View on Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Treatment
Read the Comment by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Urinary tract infection (UTI) treatment includes antibiotics and sometimes additional medications to treat pain and other symptoms. The severity, type, and location of the infection as well as the presence of other conditions (STD, pregnancy) will affect the choice of antibiotic. Home remedies including drinking cranberry juice and drinking plenty of fluids may help prevent urinary tract infections, but they should not be exclusively relied upon in place of proper medical treatment. Read the entire Doctor's View
What is the treatment for a urinary tract infection?
The usual treatment for both simple and complicated urinary tract infections is antibiotics. The type of antibiotic and duration of treatment depend on the circumstances. Examples of common antibiotics used in treatment include, but are not limited to, amoxicillin, sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim (Bactrim), ciprofloxacin, nitrofurantoin (Macrobid), and many others. Your health-care provider will chose the appropriate medication for your condition and the specific causative organisms.
Lower urinary tract infection (cystitis, or bladder infection)
- In an otherwise healthy person, a three-day course of antibiotics is usually enough. Some providers prefer a seven-day course of antibiotics. Occasionally, a single dose of an antibiotic is used. A health-care professional will determine which of these options is best.
- In adult males, if the prostate is also infected (prostatitis), four weeks or more of antibiotic treatment may be required.
- Adult females with potential for or early involvement of the kidneys, urinary tract abnormalities, or diabetes are usually given a five- to seven-day course of antibiotics.
- Children with uncomplicated cystitis are usually given a 10-day course of antibiotics.
- To alleviate burning pain during urination, phenazopyridine (Pyridium) or a similar drug, can be used in addition to antibiotics for one to two days.
Upper urinary tract infection (pyelonephritis)
- Young, otherwise healthy patients with symptoms of pyelonephritis can be treated as outpatients. They may receive IV fluids and antibiotics or an injection of antibiotics in the emergency department, followed by 10-14 days of oral antibiotics. They should follow up with their health-care professional in one to two days to monitor improvement.
- If someone is very ill, dehydrated, or unable to keep anything in his or her stomach because of vomiting, an IV will be inserted into the arm. He or she will be admitted to the hospital and given fluids and antibiotics through the IV until he/she is well enough to switch to an oral antibiotic.
- A complicated, acute infection may require treatment for several weeks.
A person may be hospitalized if he or she has symptoms of pyelonephritis and any of the following:
- Appear very ill
- Are pregnant
- Have not gotten better with outpatient antibiotic treatment
- Have underlying diseases that compromise the immune system (diabetes is one example) or are taking immunosuppressive medication
- Are unable to keep anything in the stomach because of nausea or vomiting
- Had previous kidney disease, especially pyelonephritis, within the last 30 days
- Have a device such as a urinary catheter in place
- Have kidney stones
Urethritis in men and women can be caused by the same bacteria as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Therefore, people with symptoms of STDs (vaginal or penile discharge, for example) should be treated with appropriate antibiotics. Your doctor will have to evaluate you for STDs as well as UTIs if you experience any pain in the genital area.