More than half of all women will get a urinary tract infection (UTI) and 1 in 5 will experience recurring UTIs at some point. A urinary tract infection is an infection in any part of your urinary system, including the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. Generally bacterial infections travel into the urinary system from outside of the body, causing infection and inflammation.
What are UTI symptoms?
Symptoms can range from mild to severe and often include a frequent or intense urge to pee, but peeing only small quantities each time, and a burning sensation with urination. Cloudy, dark, bloody, or strange-smelling pee is also a symptom, and you may feel tired or shaky. Fever or chills, especially when accompanied by pain, pressure, or discomfort in your back and/or lower abdomen, can be a sign that the infection may have reached your kidneys and you should seek care at an emergency room or urgent care.
How do I treat a UTI?
Luckily, you have many options when it comes to UTI medications to treat infections quickly and prevent them from progressing, but your first step should be to stay hydrated and pee often!
Urinating cleanses the body by getting rid of bacteria and unwanted microorganisms. When you feel the urge to urinate, drink plenty of water throughout the day to hasten the process of flushing out harmful bacteria from your urinary tract. A very mild UTI can resolve on its own if you drink plenty of water and continually empty your bladder.
However, most UTIs do need antibiotics to be treated effectively. UTI medications work quickly and will relieve the pain and the constant need to pee. UTI medications include a course of antibiotics that can be as short as three days or as long as 14 days, depending on the severity of the infection and any other factors that may complicate it.
What to know about UTI antibiotics
If you are diagnosed with a UTI and prescribed antibiotics, it’s important that you take them as directed. While your symptoms may resolve before you finish the full course of treatment, it doesn’t mean that the infection is cleared. Stopping antibiotics early can lead to the development of antibiotic resistance—a phenomenon where the bacteria causing the infection will no longer respond to certain treatments. That means you should take the pills as prescribed, never save antibiotics after you’re done with your treatment course, and never take pills that were prescribed to someone else.
How can I get UTI symptom relief?
Phenazopyridine is a popular UTI medication (sold under the brand names Pyridium or Azo Urinary Pain Relief) and has been shown to help with the urgent need to pee and also help with pain or burning while urinating. While phenazopyridine is great at relieving symptoms, it does nothing to treat the underlying condition. For that, antibiotics are necessary.
In addition to the many effective UTI medications, continue to drink water, but stay away from anything sugary. Sugar can feed the bacteria causing your infection and make it worse. You’ll also want to avoid alcohol and caffeine as much as possible. These drinks contain substances that can further irritate the urinary tract and make the bladder overactive, which can lead to even more discomfort.
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