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UTI Medicine and Treatment Options

writtenByWritten by: Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer is a contributing health writer who has been researching and writing health content with PlushCare for 3 years. She is passionate about bringing accessible healthcare and mental health services to people everywhere.

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reviewBy Reviewed by: Dr. Katalin Karolyi
Reviewer

Dr. Katalin Karolyi

Katalin Karolyi, M.D. earned her medical degree at the University of Debrecen. After completing her residency program in pathology at the Kenezy Hospital, she obtained a postdoctoral position at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, Orlando, Florida.

March 9, 2021 Read Time - 6 minutes

If you have a urinary tract infection (UTI), you want relief from your symptoms as soon as possible—preferably without the hassle of going to your doctor’s office. 

What is the best UTI medicine? Are there home remedies for a UTI? Can you get UTI medication online? We have the answers to these questions and other information you should know about urinary tract infections.

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    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

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What Is a Urinary Tract Infection?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system. While most UTIs affect the lower urinary tract (the bladder and urethra), UTIs can also target the upper urinary tract (the kidneys and ureters).

Types of Urinary Tract Infections

There are four different types of urinary tract infections:

  • Bladder infections, also called cystitis, commonly cause frequent urination, pelvic pressure, blood in the urine, and lower abdomen discomfort.
  • Kidney infections, also called acute pyelonephritis, can cause nausea, vomiting, high fever, shaking and chills, and upper back and side pain.
  • Infections of the urethra, called urethritis, typically cause discharge and burning with urination.
  • Infections of the ureters are uncommon but possible.

UTI Symptoms

Symptoms of a bladder or kidney infection include:

  • Burning or pain during urination
  • Bloody or cloudy urine
  • Cramping or pressure in the abdomen or lower back
  • Frequent urination
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Shaking and chills
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Mental changes or confusion

UTI Risk Factors

Due to their anatomy, females are much more likely to develop UTIs than males. However, men can still develop UTIs, and the risk of urinary tract infections in men increases with age.

Other risk factors for UTIs include:

  • Certain types of birth control
  • Being sexually active
  • Menopause
  • Catheter use
  • Suppressed immune system
  • Recent urinary procedure
  • Blockage in the urinary tract
  • Urinary tract abnormalities

UTI Complications

Urinary tract infections are more than just annoying. If left untreated, UTIs can cause potentially serious complications, including:

  • Recurrent infections
  • Increased risk of delivering a premature or underweight infant
  • Permanent kidney damage
  • Urethral narrowing
  • Sepsis (blood infection)

How to Get Rid of a UTI

The best way to get rid of a UTI is to talk to a doctor and get an antibiotic. It is very difficult to get rid of a UTI without antibiotics.

What Is the Best Medicine for UTI?

The best way to treat a UTI is with antibiotics. The most common antibiotics for UTIs include:

  • Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra)
  • Nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin, Macrobid)
  • Ceftriaxone
  • Fosfomycin (Monurol)
  • Cephalexin (Keflex)

According to Mayo Clinic, “for an uncomplicated UTI that occurs when you’re otherwise healthy, your doctor may recommend a shorter course of treatment, such as taking an antibiotic for one to three days.” However, your course of treatment will depend on your medical history and specific UTI symptoms.

Meanwhile, if your UTI involves your kidneys or is otherwise considered a “complex” infection, other antibiotics besides these may be prescribed.

Can You Buy Over-the-Counter UTI Medicine?

No, you cannot buy over-the-counter UTI medicine.

The only way to treat a UTI is with antibiotics, which require a prescription. However, there are some over-the-counter medications that may help improve your symptoms, even if they do not treat the infection itself. These medications are best used in conjunction with, rather than instead of, an antibiotic.

Home Remedies for UTI

While antibiotics are the most effective treatment for UTIs, there are some things you can do at home that may at least improve your symptoms, even if they don’t treat the infection. Home remedies may be more effective at preventing, rather than treating, UTIs.

Common natural remedies for UTI include:

  • Drinking plenty of water to help flush bacteria from your urinary tract.
  • Drinking unsweetened cranberry juice. Although there is conflicting data on its effectiveness, some studies show that women who drink cranberry juice have fewer UTIs than those who don’t.
  • Taking probiotics. Some probiotic strains help prevent UTIs, but it’s also always a good idea to take probiotics alongside antibiotics to maintain healthy gut bacteria.
  • Getting more vitamin C. Vitamin C may be able to kill infection-causing bacteria by increasing the acidity of your urine.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Best Antibiotic for Urinary Tract Infection?

There is no single best antibiotic that works for every UTI. However, the most common antibiotics for treating urinary tract infections include:

  • Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra)
  • Nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin, Macrobid)
  • Ceftriaxone
  • Fosfomycin (Monurol)
  • Cephalexin (Keflex)

What Are the Side Effects of UTI Antibiotics?

Each antibiotic has a slightly different list of potential side effects, and antibiotics affect everyone differently. The most common side effects of UTI antibiotics include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Joint or muscle pain

How Long Does a UTI Last?

Unless the infection affects your kidneys, most UTIs clear up within 24–48 hours of starting antibiotics. 

Even if your symptoms improve, you should always take the full course of UTI medicine prescribed by your doctor. Failing to do so could cause the infection to return and may contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Can I Get Antibiotics for UTI Without Seeing a Doctor?

No, you cannot get antibiotics for a UTI without seeing a doctor. In order to get UTI medication, you must get a prescription from your doctor.

However, you don ot necessarily need to see a doctor in person. You can schedule an online doctor appointment, and the doctor can send an electronic prescription for antibiotics to your pharmacy.

When Should You See a Doctor for a UTI?

Generally, a UTI will not clear up without antibiotics, and you must talk to a doctor to get a prescription for UTI medication. You should especially see a doctor if you have symptoms of a kidney infection, such as:

  • Fever above 101°F
  • Shaking or chills
  • Fatigue
  • Pain in the back, groins, or side
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Warm, flushed, or reddened skin
  • Abdominal pain
  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

PlushCare-App-Steps

Get UTI Treatment Online

Doctors can often diagnose UTIs just based on symptoms, so you do not need to go to your doctor’s office to get a prescription for antibiotics. 

With the PlushCare app, you can schedule a video or phone appointment with a licensed doctor. If they think you would benefit from antibiotics for your UTI, they can electronically send a UTI medication prescription to your local pharmacy.

Book an appointment at PlushCare now and get antibiotics for your UTI as soon as today!


Read More About Urinary Tract Infections


Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

Mayo Clinic. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). Symptoms and Causes. Accessed on March 06, 2021 at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-tract-infection/symptoms-causes/syc-20353447

Medline Plus. Urinary Tract Infection – adults. Accessed on February 22, 2021 at https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000521.htm

National Institutes of Health. Nature reviews. Microbiology. Urinary tract infections: epidemiology, mechanisms of infection and treatment options. Accessed on February 22, 2021 at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4457377/

National Institutes of Health. The Western Journal of Medicine. Management of Uncomplicated Urinary Tract Infections. Accessed on February 22, 2021 at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1071654/#

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