Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Antibiotics usually are the first line treatment for urinary tract infections. Which drugs are prescribed and for how long depend on your health condition and the type of bacteria found in your urine.

Simple infection

Drugs commonly recommended for simple UTIs include:

  • Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra, others)
  • Fosfomycin (Monurol)
  • Nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin, Macrobid)
  • Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
  • Levofloxacin (Levaquin)
  • Cephalexin (Keflex)
  • Ceftriaxone (Rocephin)
  • Azithromycin (Zithromax, Zmax)
  • Doxycycline (Monodox, Vibramycin, others)

Often, symptoms clear up within a few days of treatment. But you may need to continue antibiotics for a week or more. Take the entire course of antibiotics as prescribed.

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. But whether this short course of treatment is enough to treat your infection depends on your particular symptoms and medical history.

Your doctor may also prescribe a pain medication (analgesic) that numbs your bladder and urethra to relieve burning while urinating, but pain usually is relieved soon after starting an antibiotic. One common side effect of urinary tract analgesics is discolored urine — orange or red.

Frequent infections

If you have frequent UTIs, your doctor may make certain treatment recommendations, such as:

  • Low dose antibiotics, initially for six months but sometimes longer
  • Self-diagnosis and treatment, if you stay in touch with your doctor
  • A single dose of antibiotic after sexual intercourse if your infections are related to sexual activity
  • Vaginal estrogen therapy if you're postmenopausal

Severe infection

For a severe UTI, you may need treatment with intravenous antibiotics in a hospital.

July 23, 2015