Urine cultures can take several days to complete. In the interim the doctor may prescribe a course of "empiric" antibiotic therapy. This is an antibiotic that is prescribed based on the physician’s familiarity with the disease and organisms causing the infection. It is done to halt the progress of the infection until a definitive diagnosis is made. It is not unusual for the empiric therapy to clear up the infection. When the causative organism is identified, the prescription may be changed if the infection has not cleared.
Treating recurrent infections can be challenging. Women who have had three or more UTIs are likely to continue to experience them for several years. In these cases, preventative measures may include taking low dose antibiotics for extended periods, up to six months. There are over-the-counter diagnostic dipsticks that will indicate if an infection is present and serve as an early warning that it is time to initiate a course of preventive antibiotic therapy.