Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Doctors typically use antibiotics to treat urinary tract infections. Which drugs are prescribed and for how long depend on your health condition and the type of bacterium found in your urine.

Simple infection

Drugs commonly recommended for simple UTIs include:

  • Sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim (Bactrim, Septra, others)
  • Amoxicillin (Amoxil, Augmentin, others)
  • Nitrofurantoin (Furadantin, Macrodantin, others)
  • Ampicillin
  • Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
  • Levofloxacin (Levaquin)

Usually, 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 prescribed by your doctor to ensure that the infection is completely gone.

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 adequate 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. One common side effect of urinary tract analgesics is discolored urine — orange or red.

Frequent infections

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

  • Longer course of antibiotic treatment or a program with short courses of antibiotics at the start of your urinary symptoms
  • Home urine tests, in which you dip a test stick into a urine sample, to check for infection
  • A single dose of antibiotic after sexual intercourse if your infections are related to sexual activity
  • Vaginal estrogen therapy if you're postmenopausal, to minimize your chance of recurrent UTIs

Severe infection

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

Aug. 29, 2012