Urinary Tract Infections Treatment
Treatment Options For UTI's in Women

UTI Guide

Urinary Tract Infections Treatment


OTC Medications
Pregnant Women & Treatment
Recurrent Infections
Preventive Use of Antibiotics

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Urinary Tract Infection Guide

Over The Counter (OTC) Medications

Many women, particularly those with experience of previous urinary tract infections (bladder infection/cystitis), prefer to start their UTI treatment with over the counter remedies. Aspirin or Ibuprofen can help reduce some of the pain associated with a bladder infection. Many treatments labeled as cystitis or UTI aids are likely to contain urine alkalizing agents such as potassium citrate, sodium bicarbonate or sodium citrate. Other remedies include phenazopyridine (brand name AZO) which helps to reduce pain and discomfort associated with UTI's. Another popular brand is Cystex which helps relieve burning associated with UTI's and inhibits progression of infection with its antibacterial ingredients. The one noticeable side effect of this medication is discoloration of the urine and occasionally discoloration of contact lenses.

For natural therapies, see: natural treatment for urinary tract infections, as well as our list of books on urinary tract infections for self-help guides.

When To Contact a Doctor

1. If symptoms have not disappeared within 48 hours.
2. If you notice a change in symptoms, such as fever, nausea or vomiting.
3. If you suspect you may be pregnant.
4. If 4 infections or more occur within a year.


Treatment With Antibiotics

Where symptoms continue after use of an over the counter remedy, it is important to consult a doctor. Some doctors may prescribe an antibiotic without requiring a urine test (see urinary tract infection diagnosis). This may even be prescribed over the phone if the doctor knows the woman is in a low-risk category (not pregnant or suffering a recurring infection). An oral antibiotic will usually be prescribed. For years women with UTI's were administered antibiotics for 7 to 14 days. Today, a single dose antibiotic is almost just as effective. Slightly more effective is a 3 day course and occasionally a 5 day course. 3 days is considered the international recommendation although some pharmaceutical corporations are still recommending longer courses of treatment.

Most Common Antibiotics

The most common single dosage or 3 day course antibiotic is trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, commonly known as TMP-SMX. Unfortunately the more an antibiotic is used, the more resistant bacteria become to it. A 2003 study reported a 14 percent resistance of the bacteria e-coli to TMP-SMX. E-coli is the most common cause of bladder infections. Still, even with this drug, cure rates are as high as 85 percent. Where resistance to e-coli exists, a stronger antibiotic is required, such as ciprofloxacin (Cipro) or norfloxacin (Noroxin). If symptoms resolve themselves a follow up urine sample is not normally necessary (unless complications such as pregnancy or kidney infection are a factor).

Kidney Infections

Women with a suspected case of kidney infection will need a diagnosis from their doctor. This is usually obtained from a urine test and culture. However treatment may be prescribed before results ever return. These infections require 10 to 14 days of treatment. Patients with a relapse kidney infection may require treatment for even longer. As 15 percent of kidney infections recur, a follow up urine culture will be required within a week of when the treatment ends. See also: Interstitial cystitis.

Pregnant Women & Treatment

Most pregnant women are commonly screened for bacterial infections, even where no symptoms occur. This is because a bacterial infection is far more likely to develop into a kidney infection where pregnancy is a factor. Pregnant women are at increased risk for UTI's from week 6 through week 24. As the uterus grows the fetus can block the drainage of urine from the bladder, causing infection. Physicians usually prescribe a 3 to 7 days course of antibiotics.

Recurrent Infections

Recurrent urinary tract infections are divided into two categories: relapse and re-infection. A re-infection is where the original infection was cured by antibiotics but occurs again within a few weeks. It can be caused by the same strain of bacteria, or a new one. A relapse, far less common, is where the original bacteria did not respond to treatment and continues to populate. A relapse is associated with serious kidney infections (pyelonephritis). It is treated in the same way as the original infection, but course of treatment will be longer. Re-infections which occur twice a year are usually treated in the same way as the original infection (1-3 days).

Preventive Use of Antibiotics

Women who suffer recurrent UTI's may be prescribed prophylactic (continual) use of antibiotics over a 6-12 month period or alternatively advised to take an antibiotic after sexual intercourse.

  Related Articles on UTI Treatment

For more treating female issues, see the following:

Vaginitis guide and douching guide
How to treat cystitis: 10 great tips.
Urinary tract infections in older women: Signs
Women's health books: Take charge of your own health.

Return to Homepage: Womens Health Advice

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