Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are bacterial infections of the urinary system, which includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. However, most UTIs are limited to the lower half of the urinary tract, which includes the urethra and bladder. UTIs are a very common infection that occur often in women. Because of the difference in anatomy, bacteria are able to travel through the urethra and into the bladder easier in females.
Treatment for urinary tract infections usually involves antibiotics, but the length of treatment will vary on a case-by-case basis. The location and severity of the UTI will affect how it needs to be treated. Additionally, the type of bacteria that is causing the infection will determine which antibiotic needs to be prescribed. Here are some of the standard remedies for different types of infections.
If you are experiencing a typical urinary tract infection, then your doctor will likely prescribe a round of antibiotics that should clear up the infection within a few days of treatment. Most antibiotics are prescribed for a week or more, so make sure to take the entire course of your antibiotic, even if you are no longer experiencing symptoms. These medications include:
- Bactrim or Septra (trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole)
- Cipro (ciprofloxacin)
- Zithromax (azithromycin)
- Keflex (cephalexin)
- Monurol (fosfomycin)
- Levaquin (levofloxacin)
- Vibramycin or Monodox (doxycycline)
- Rocephin (ceftriaxone)
- Macrobid (nitrofurantoin)
Your doctor may also prescribe an analgesic (pain medication) that numbs your bladder and urethra that will relieve the burning sensation you have while urinating. However, you must not mistake the lack of pain for a cured infection. Antibiotics will still be necessary for killing the bacteria that is causing your urinary tract infection.
If you experience frequent urinary tract infections, then your doctor may recommend a different remedy for your UTI. Some options include:
- Low dose antibiotics for an extended period of time: This is usually for a minimum of about six months, but sometimes longer.
- Single dose of antibiotics after sexual intercourse: This may be recommended if your UTIs seem to be related to sexual activity.
- Self-diagnosis and treatment: This may be an option if you are able to stay in touch with your doctor and communicate when your infections are happening.
- Vaginal estrogen therapy: This is recommended if your UTIs are a result of being post-menopausal.
While simple urinary tract infections will typically respond to remedies fairly quickly, when left untreated, UTIs can become very serious and sometimes even deadly. If urinary tract infection spreads to your kidneys, this can be very dangerous and lead to serious complications, such as permanent kidney damage, increased risk of premature delivery in pregnant women, urethral narrowing in men, and even sepsis, which is a life-threatening condition if the infection is able to enter your blood stream. If you are experiencing a very severe infection that has spread to the upper part of your urinary tract, then you may need to be checked into the hospital to receive intravenous antibiotics.