Urinary tract infections (UTI) are caused by germs, usually bacteria that enter the urethra, then the bladder. This can lead to infection, most commonly in the bladder itself. At times, the infection can spread to the kidneys.
Most likely, your symptoms include foul or strong urine odor, pain or burning when you urinate, and a strong need to empty your bladder. These symptoms should improve soon after you begin taking antibiotics.
If you are feeling ill, have a low-grade fever, or some pain in your lower back, these symptoms will take 1 - 2 days to improve, and up to 1 week to go away completely.
You will be given antibiotics to be taken by mouth at home.
Antibiotics may cause side effects, such as nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, and other symptoms. Report these to your doctor, and do not just stop taking the pills.
Make sure your doctor knows if you could be pregnant before starting the antibiotics.
Your doctor may also give you a drug to relieve the burning pain and urgent need to urinate. Phenazopyridine hydrochloride (Pyridium) is the most common type of this drug.
Changes in bathing or hygiene may help prevent some UTIs:
Urinate before and after sexual activity.
Avoid tight-fitting pants. Wear cotton-cloth underwear and pantyhose, and change both at least once a day.
Also, ask your doctor about:
See or call your health care provider after you finish taking antibiotics to make sure that the infection is gone.
If you do not improve or you are having problems with your treatment, talk to your doctor sooner.
Call right away if the following symptoms develop: (These may be signs of a possible kidney infection.)
Also call if you have already been diagnosed with a UTI and the symptoms come back shortly after you finished your antibiotics.
Gupta K, Hooton TM, Naber KG, Wullt B, Colgan R, Miller LG, et al. International clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of acute uncomplicated cystitis and pyelonephritis in women: A 2010 update by the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the European Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. Clin Infect Dis. 2011 Mar;52(5):e103-20.
Updated by: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. 09/13/11Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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