Find Relief With Common UTI Treatment Options
So, you’ve just been diagnosed with a urinary tract infection (UTI). Now what?
A UTI occurs when there is an infection in your urinary tract system. Any part of your urinary system can become infected, but most UTIs take place in the lower urinary tract, which includes the bladder and urethra.
Although there’s no denying that UTIs can cause pain and discomfort, the good news is that these infections are easily treatable. Keep reading for UTI treatment options that can help you find relief, as well as prevention tips that can reduce your risk of developing one in the future.
UTI Symptoms and Causes
When you have a UTI, the lining of your bladder and urethra become irritated, causing all or some of the following symptoms:
- Frequent need to urinate
- Intense urge to go to the bathroom, but only produce a small amount of urine
- Burning sensation during urination
- Loss of urine control
- Pelvic pain (in women) and rectal pain (in men)
- Dark or cloudy urine
- Foul-smelling urine
- Blood in urine
A urinary tract infection is caused when bacteria enters the urinary tract through the urethra. Once there, the bacteria travels up the urinary tract and multiplies, triggering an inflammatory response in the body and resulting in the symptoms you associate with a UTI.
In most cases, a UTI is caused by a bacteria called Escherichia coli (E. coli). Since the urethra is close to the anus, it is easy for bacteria from the large intestine to enter the urethra. Sex is another common cause of a UTI in women, as the physical act of intercourse exposes a woman’s urethra to bacteria from the anal area. After contact is made, it is easy for bacteria to travel into the urinary system and cause an infection.
Related: The Science Behind a UTI
UTI Treatment Options
Depending on what is causing your UTI, as well as whether the infection is simple or complicated, your urologist will be able to recommend the best treatment option. But don’t worry — both simple and complicated UTIs are treatable.
Simple UTI Treatment
A simple UTI occurs in normal urinary tracts and can be treated with a course of oral antibiotics.
With simple UTIs, symptoms typically clear up within a few days. However, as is the case with any antibiotic, it is important for you to complete the full course of treatment that was prescribed to you. Just because your symptoms are gone doesn’t mean your infection has fully been treated — and it can easily return if you don’t finish your antibiotics.
In addition to taking your prescribed antibiotics, now is a good time to drink plenty of fluids, particularly water. While it may seem simple, staying hydrated helps flush bacteria out of the urethra, as well as prevent future UTIs from occurring.
Complicated UTI Treatment
A complicated UTI occurs in abnormal urinary tracts and involves bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotic medications. Although it is more difficult to treat complicated UTIs, they are still treatable.
The biggest difference between simple and complicated UTIs is that these infections may require a longer course of antibiotics. Treatment for complicated UTIs typically begins with intravenous antibiotics, which are administered at a hospital for a short period of time. Afterward, antibiotics can be taken orally for up to several weeks.
After being treated with antibiotics, your urologist will perform a urine culture test to check your urine for bacteria and make sure your infection is completely gone. If your symptoms still haven’t gone away even after being treated, you may need a longer course of antibiotics or a different antibiotic altogether to treat your UTI.
Home Remedies for a UTI
Chances are, you’ve heard the advice to drink cranberry juice for UTIs — but does it actually work? The simple answer: No.
Sadly, there are no home remedies that can cure a UTI once you have it. Cranberry juice won’t cure a UTI, but it can help prevent a UTI 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 bladder walls, which can cause an infection.
How to Prevent a UTI
In addition to drinking cranberry juice, there are other simple ways to prevent UTIs. Reduce your risk of developing a UTI with these tips:
- Empty your bladder completely
- Urinate immediately after sex to flush away bacteria
- Cleanse your genital area before sex
- Avoid holding urine for long periods of time
- Wipe from front to back
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, to stay hydrated
- Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes to help keep your genital area dry
Recurrent UTI Treatment Options
Many people will get more than one UTI in their lifetime. After all, they are one of the most common infections among individuals, especially women. However, if you have three or more UTIs in a year, talk with your urologist about a treatment plan for recurrent UTIs.
For chronic UTIs, your urologist may recommend a low dose of antibiotics taken over a longer period or a single dose taken after sexual intercourse. Along with prescribing antibiotics, your urologist may choose to monitor your urinary system more closely using home urine tests, as well as an ultrasound or CT scan to check for any abnormalities.
See One of Our Urology Specialists
To help rid yourself of a painful UTI, contact the Urology Specialists of the Carolinas today to schedule an appointment. With a proper diagnosis and UTI treatment plan, you will be on the road to recovery in no time.
In addition to seeing a professional, your nutrition and lifestyle play a huge role in a happy and healthy urinary tract system. Download our Nutrition and Lifestyle Guide to learn our top tips and tricks for maintaining and achieving optimal urology health.
This content was originally published in February 2015 and was refreshed in March 2021.