You’ve been diagnosed with a urinary tract infection (UTI). Now what? Well, the treatment depends on whether the infection is simple (uncomplicated) or complicated. A simple UTI occurs in normal urinary tracts. A complicated UTI occurs in abnormal urinary tracts and/or involves bacterium that are resistant to many antibiotic medications. Both simple and complicated UTIs are treatable.

A simple UTI can be treated with a course of oral antibiotics. After a few doses, you may have significant symptom relief. You may no longer have pain or the urge to urinate frequently. However, as with any medication, you need to complete the full course prescribed for you. Though your symptoms are gone, the actual infection may not be completely gone and can easily return. Now is a good time to remember to drink plenty of fluids, particularly water, and continue this habit to help prevent new urinary tract infections from occurring.

Treatment for a complicated UTI is more involved and is generally includes a longer course of antibiotics. Treatment may begin with intravenous antibiotics which are administered at a hospital. These intravenous antibiotics are given for a short period of time. After that, antibiotics can be taken by mouth for up to several weeks.

Does cranberry juice work? While cranberry juice won’t cure a UTI once you have it, cranberry juice can help prevent a urinary tract infection from occurring in the first place. E. coli bacteria is the most common cause of UTIs. Cranberries contain a tannin that prevents the E. coli bacteria from sticking to the bladder walls where it can cause an infection. Since cranberries, in general, may be effective, go ahead and enjoy some dried cranberries, too.

Other ways to help prevent getting a UTI:

  • Empty your bladder completely
  • Do not delay urinating or rush while urinating
  • Wipe from front to back
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, and keep well hydrated
  • Cleanse your genital area before sex
  • Urinate after sex to flush away bacteria
  • Take a shower rather than a bath
  • Wear cotton underwear to help keep your genital area dry

If you have three or more UTIs in a year, talk with your doctor about a treatment plan. This may include a different antibiotic course, such as a low dose taken over a longer period, or a single dose taken following sexual intercourse (which often increases the frequency of UTIs). An ultrasound or CT scan may be prescribed to look for any abnormalities in your urinary tract.

Urinary tract infections are fairly common. If detected early, they are usually easy to treat and have no lasting effect on your urinary tract.