How are urinary tract infections (UTI) treated?

You will need to treat a urinary tract infection. Antibiotics are medicines that kill bacteria and fight an infection. Antibiotics are typically used to treat urinary tract infections. Your healthcare provider will pick a drug that best treats the particular bacteria that’s causing your infection. Some commonly used antibiotics can include:

  • Nitrofurantoin.
  • Sulfonamides (sulfa drugs).
  • Amoxicillin.
  • Cephalosporins.
  • Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim®).
  • Doxycycline.
  • Quinolones (such as ciprofloxacin [Cipro®]).

It’s very important that you follow your healthcare provider’s directions for taking the medicine. Don’t stop taking the antibiotic because your symptoms go away and you start feeling better. If the infection is not treated completely with the full course of antibiotics, it can return.

If you have a history of frequent urinary tract infections, you may be given a prescription for antibiotics that you would take at the first onset of symptoms. Other patients may be given antibiotics to take every day, every other day, or after sexual intercourse to prevent the infection. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best treatment option for you if you have a history of frequent UTIs.

What are the complications of a urinary tract infection (UTI)?

A urinary tract infection can be easily treated with antibiotics. However, if it isn’t treated or if you stop the medication early, this type of infection can lead to a more serious infection, like a kidney infection.

Can I become immune to the antibiotics used to treat a UTI?

Your body can actually get used to the antibiotics typically used to treat a urinary tract infection (UTI). This happens in people who have very frequent infections. With each UTI and use of antibiotics to treat it, the infection adapts and becomes harder to fight. This is called an antibiotic-resistant infection. Because of this, your healthcare provider may suggest alternative treatments if you have frequent UTIs. These could include:

  • Waiting: Your provider may suggest that you watch your symptoms and wait. During this time, you may be encouraged to drink plenty of fluids (especially water) in an effort to “flush out” your system.
  • Intravenous treatment: In some very complicated cases, where the UTI is resistant to antibiotics or the infection has moved to your kidneys, you may need to be treated in the hospital. The medicine will be given to you directly in your vein (intravenously). Once you’re home, you will be prescribed antibiotics for a period of time to fully get rid of the infection.

Does cranberry juice prevent a urinary tract infection (UTI)?

Many people say that cranberry juice can help treat, or even prevent, a UTI. Researchers are currently looking into the topic, but haven’t found a definitive answer yet. Healthcare providers recommend drinking lots of fluids if you have, or have a history of getting, a UTI. Adding a glass of unsweetened cranberry juice to your diet isn’t a proven way to prevent a UTI, but it typically won’t hurt you either.

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