What Causes A Urinary Tract Infection
The most common causes of UTI infections are E. colibacterial strains that usually inhabit the colon. However, many other bacteria can occasionally cause an infection. In addition, yeasts and some parasites may cause UTIs. In the U.S., most infections are due to Gram-negative bacteria with E. coli causing the majority of infections.
Home Remedies For Utis
When bacteria enters the urinary tract system, it can cause a urinary tract infection. Bacteria, specifically Escherichia coli , is the most common cause of UTIs, but dehydration, holding urination for a long time, certain health conditions, and hormonal changes can also cause a UTI or increase your risk of infection. The average UTI can last anywhere from a few days to more than a week. Some UTIs will go away on their own, but more severe cases require medical attention. With antibiotic treatment, many people with severe UTIs start to feel relief within a couple of days. For mild UTIs, home remedies may help alleviate symptoms, and/or prevent infections from developing.
Here are some of the most common home remedies for UTIs:
Consider Switching Birth Control
Birth control methods with spermicides, as discussed above, have been linked to increased risk for UTIs. Additionally, other birth control methods, like intrauterine devices have also demonstrated to act as a source for recurrent UTIs. Talk to your healthcare provider about birth control options or if you suspect your current contraceptive may be causing recurrent UTIs.
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The Status Of Methenamine Combination Products
The FDAs 2003 request for data and information alsotargeted a combination product containing methenamine, sodiumsalicylate, salicylamide, and benzoic acid.8 The FDAmentioned that the manufacturer would be required to make a newsubmission, as the old one from the 1970s was badly outdated. Theproduct most closely resembling this combination at present is Cystex.9Each tablet contains 162 mg of methenamine and 162.5 mg of sodiumsalicylate, with benzoic acid listed as an inactive ingredient. Thedosage is 2 tablets with a full glass of water 4 times daily.14None of these ingredients as dosed in the nonprescription product isproven to be safe and effective at preventing or treating UTIs at thepresent time.
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Otc Treatments That Can Help Your Uti
Try these at-home treatments while youre waiting to get your antibiotics . And while youre at it, drink as much water as you can. Peeing often will help flush out more of the gunk and hopefully help you feel better a little faster.
This is basically like Tylenol or Motrin for your urinary tract. It uses a different active ingredient phenazopyridine hydrochloride but the function is pretty much the same. Itll temporarily numb the tissue around your urinary tract to make the whole situation down there a little more tolerable. You can expect relief in as little as 20 minutes that lasts up to 8 hours.
However, note that this can make your urine reddish-orange tinged and can stain fabric. Also dont take it for more than 2 days.
Can I Treat Uti Symptoms With Over The Counter Medicines
Weve already talked about the most common UTI symptoms, but what can you actually do about them?
Acetaminophen or ibuprofen are OTC pain relievers that could help ease some of the pain and discomfort UTIs can cause. Phenazopyridine is another pain reliever that could help relieve uncomfortable symptoms. Some forms of phenazopyridine are OTC while others require a prescription.
How Are Urinary Tract Infections Diagnosed
Your doctor will use the following tests to diagnose a urinary tract infection:
- Urinalysis: This test will examine the urine for red blood cells, white blood cells and bacteria. The number of white and red blood cells found in your urine can actually indicate an infection.
- Urine culture: A urine culture is used to determine the type of bacteria in your urine. This is an important test because it helps determine the appropriate treatment.
If your infection does not respond to treatment or if you keep getting infections over and over again, your doctor may use the following tests to examine your urinary tract for disease or injury:
- Ultrasound: In this test, sound waves create an image of the internal organs. This test is done on top of your skin, is painless and doesnt typically need any preparation.
- Cystoscopy: This test uses a special instrument fitted with a lens and a light source to see inside the bladder from the urethra.
- CT scan: Another imaging test, a CT scan is a type of X-ray that takes cross sections of the body . This test is much more precise than typical X-rays.
What Is A Uti Am I At Risk Of Contracting One
Urinary tract infections occur when bacteria enters the urinary tract and causes an infection, resulting in one of three main types of infection infections of the bladder , urethra or in the kidneys .
As for who is most at risk of contracting one in truth, anyone can contract a UTI at any time. UTIs are particularly common in women, with many women experiencing multiple UTIs in their lifetimes. This is not to say that men are immune, however urethritis is more common in men than women, for instance.
The following factors put you more at risk of contracting a UTI than most:
- Being sexually active or having a new sexual partner
- Being born with an abnormal urinary tract
- The use of some birth control methods like a contraceptive diaphragm or spermicidal agent
- Having a condition that blocks the urinary tract
- Having a condition that makes it difficult to fully empty the bladder
- Having a urinary catheter in place, or having had one in place recently
- Having a weakened immune system
- Having had a UTI previously
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Antibiotics Used For Complicated Utis
Before getting into how to best treat a complicated UTI, its important to understand which UTIs are considered complicated. Here are some guidelines:
- Urinary tract abnormalities are present
- Youre pregnant
- The patient is a child
- A comorbidity is present that increases risk of infection or treatment resistance, such as poorly controlled diabetes
- Youre a man, since most UTIs in men are considered complicated
Kidney infections are often treated as a complicated UTI as well, notes the Merck Manual.
If a UTI is complicated, a different course of antibiotics may be required. And the initial dose of antibiotics may be started intravenously in the hospital. After that, antibiotics are given orally at home. In addition, follow-up urine cultures are generally recommended within 10 to 14 days after treatment. Not all of the antibiotics approved for uncomplicated UTIs are appropriate for the complicated version. Some that are considered appropriate, include:
Can A Urinary Tract Infection Be Prevented
Many methods have been suggested to reduce or prevent UTIs. The single most important prevention measure is increased fluid intake. Many people develop UTIs simply because they do not drink enough fluids.
Incomplete bladder emptying and resisting the normal urge to urinate can allow pathogens to survive and replicate easier in a non-flowing system. Some clinicians recommend washing before and urinating soon after sex to reduce the chance of urethritis and cystitis.
Many clinicians suggest that anything that causes a person irritation in the genital area may encourage UTI development. Wearing underwear that is somewhat adsorptive may help wick away urine drops that otherwise may be areas for pathogen growth.
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Drink Plenty Of Fluids
Dehydration is linked to an increased risk of UTIs.
This is because regular urination can help flush bacteria from the urinary tract to prevent infection. When youre dehydrated, you arent urinating as often, which can create a breeding ground for bacteria.
A examined nursing home residents and administered a drinking schedule to participants to increase their fluid intake. Following the schedule decreased UTIs requiring antibiotics by 56%.
In a 2020 randomized control trial , 140 premenopausal participants prone to UTIs took part in a 12-month study to test if a higher fluid intake would decrease their risk of recurrent cystitis and, in turn, their risk of developing a UTI. Researchers found that an increase in fluid intake led to a decrease in UTI frequency.
To stay hydrated and meet your fluid needs, its best to drink water throughout the day and always when youre thirsty.
Benefits of drinking more fluids for UTI
Drinking plenty of liquids can decrease your risk of UTIs by making you pee more, which helps remove bacteria from your urinary tract.
evidence suggests that increasing your intake of vitamin C could protect against UTIs.
Vitamin C is thought to work by increasing the acidity of urine, killing off the bacteria that cause infection.
An older 2007 study of UTIs in pregnant women looked at the effects of taking 100 milligrams of vitamin C every day.
Fruits and vegetables are especially high in vitamin C and are a good way to increase your intake.
Why Antibiotics Are The Golden Standard
Urinary tract infections occur due to an external bacterial infection in the urinary tract of a body. The most common treatment option is a course of antibiotic therapy that targets the pathogens and the bacteria causing the infection.
The appropriate antibiotic course leads to higher symptomatic and bacteriological cure rates and significantly reduces the chances of reinfection. The types of antibiotics prescribed as the first line of treatment are based upon the type of bacteria found in your urine after the urine analysis, your health status, and the severity of the infection.
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How Long Should I Take Antibiotics
Your doctor will let you know. Typically, for an uncomplicated infection, youâll take antibiotics for 2 to 3 days. Some people will need to take these medicines for up to 7 to 10 days.
For a complicated infection, you might need to take antibiotics for 14 days or more.
If you still have symptoms after completing antibiotics, a follow-up urine test can show whether the germs are gone. If you still have an infection, youâll need to take antibiotics for a longer period of time.
If you get UTIs often, you may need a prolonged course of antibiotics. And if sex causes your UTIs, youâll take a dose of the medicine right before you have sex. You can also take antibiotics whenever you get a new UTI if youÃ¢re having symptoms and a positive urine culture.
What Should I Know About Storage And Disposal Of This Medication
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture .
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDAâs Safe Disposal of Medicines website for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location Ã¢ one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach.
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See A Healthcare Provider
While UTIs arent usually a cause for major concern, if you dont get them treated, they can lead to more serious problems like a kidney infection. If you have a UTI, make an appointment with a healthcare provider as soon as possible. The fastest way to feel better is by taking an antibiotic to kill the bacteria causing your infection.
If going to see a provider in-person is not an option , there are plenty of telehealth services available that will allow you to set up a virtual appointment. Check out GoodRx Care for treatment of UTIs as well as many other medical conditions.
During your appointment, your provider will ask you questions about what symptoms you are experiencing and if you are prone to UTIs. You might be asked to provide a urine sample either in the office you are seen in or at a lab close to you. Lastly, your provider will prescribe you a course of antibiotics to get started on right away.
Some common antibiotics used for treating UTIs include nitrofurantoin , sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim , and ciprofloxacin . Typically, you only need to take them for 3 to 5 days, and most people start to feel relief within the first 2 to 3 days. Antibiotics can cause nausea, stomach upset, and diarrhea for many people. But, taking your dose with food can help lessen nausea and stomach upset, and taking a probiotic supplement like L. acidophilus can help with the diarrhea.
Which Antibiotic Will Work Best
Your doctor will take a urine sample to confirm that you have a UTI. Then the lab will grow the germs in a dish for a couple of days to find out which type of bacteria you have. This is called a culture. Itâll tell your doctor what type of germs caused your infection. Theyâll likely prescribe one of the following antibiotics to treat it before the culture comes back:
Which medication and dose you get depends on whether your infection is complicated or uncomplicated.
âUncomplicatedâ means your urinary tract is normal. âComplicatedâ means you have a disease or problem with your urinary tract. You could have a narrowing of your ureters, which are the tubes that carry urine from your kidneys to your bladder, a narrowing in the urethra which transports urine from the bladder out of the body, or, you might have a blockage like a kidney stone or an enlarged prostate . It’s also possible you have a urinary fistula or a bladder diverticulum.
To treat a complicated infection, your doctor might prescribe a higher dose of antibiotics. If your UTI is severe or the infection is in your kidneys, you might need to be treated in a hospital or doctor’s office with high-dose antibiotics you get through an IV.
Your doctor will also consider these factors when choosing an antibiotic:
- Are you over age 65?
- Are you allergic to any antibiotics?
- Have you had any side effects from antibiotics in the past?
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Urgency Or Difficulty Urinating
A bladder disorder can make it difficult to fully empty your bladder. This can cause frequent urination, feeling like you always have to urinate, or both.
When the bladder wall thickens, the bladder may not be able to hold as much urine as it normally does. This can create those urgent feelings of having to urinate more frequently. BOO can also make it harder to urinate.
Other Ways To Prevent Some Utis Coming Back
If you keep getting a bladder infection , there is some evidence it may be helpful to take:
- D-mannose a sugar you can buy as a powder or tablets to take every day
- cranberry products available as juice, tablets or capsules to take every day
Speak to your doctor before taking any of these during pregnancy.
Be aware that D-mannose and cranberry products can contain a lot of sugar.
If you’re taking warfarin, you should avoid cranberry products.
Page last reviewed: 22 March 2022 Next review due: 22 March 2025
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Change Menstrual Pads Tampons Or Cups Frequently
Low-absorbency pads made of synthetic materials can expose your vulva to bacteria and increase your risk of infection. Using tampons can encourage bacteria to multiply faster, so its important to change your tampon regularly. Tampons and menstrual cups may increase your risk of getting or worsening a UTI if its not positioned correctly. If it pushes on your urethra and traps your urine, bacteria can spread to the bladder. Changing the size or shape of a menstrual cup may help prevent recurrent UTIs.