Reviewed by Dr Jonah Mink, April 21'
Some UTIs can clear up without antibiotics if caught early. Drinking plenty of fluids, resting and taking simple painkillers can be enough to help your body fight the infection. However, a course of antibiotics is often required to treat a UTI and rid the bladder of bacteria.
Not every antibiotic is suitable for UTI treatment. Individual antibiotics are designed to treat specific types of bacteria by killing them or preventing them from spreading. An antibiotic that works for a chest infection, therefore, may not be effective in treating a urine infection.
Antibiotics that are commonly prescribed for UTIs include trimethoprim, cephalexin, genfura (also known as nitrofurantoin) and pivmecillinam, a form of penicillin. Antibiotics are usually prescribed by a doctor. It is common to test a sample of urine to be sure that the symptoms experienced are being caused by a bacterial infection.
Unfortunately, some urine infection medications can have side effects. As with many antibiotics, common unwanted side effects include nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. However, these side effects are usually short-lived, and most people will not experience any problems when taking a new medication prescribed by the doctor.
If you notice the symptoms of a UTI early, you may be able to fight the infection naturally without taking antibiotics. Drinking plenty of water can help to flush bacteria out of the bladder before an infection can worsen. It is also important to rest as much as possible to strengthen the body’s natural defences. Taking simple painkillers like paracetamol can reduce discomfort or fever, and using a hot water bottle or heat pad can relieve abdominal pain.
If symptoms persist or worsen despite these simple steps, you may need a course of antibiotics to treat the infection.
Some UTIs will require a course of antibiotics before symptoms clear up. If treatment is indicated based on the analysis of your urine dipstick in the DipUTI test kit and your symptoms, a medical professional can provide a prescription for antibiotics.
Antibiotics work by weakening bacteria or slowing their growth so that the body can get rid of them. Specific antibiotics are often prescribed to treat UTIs as they are the most likely to be effective. Occasionally, symptoms may persist even after a course of antibiotics. In this case, a new course of a different antibiotic may be required.
Not every UTI will require antibiotic treatment, and some preparations can be bought over the counter from your local pharmacy.
For example, CanesOasis is a two-day course of treatment that can bring relief from the symptoms of cystitis in women. It contains an active ingredient that reduces the acidity level of urine. This makes it more comfortable to pass larger volumes of urine. Residual urine left within the bladder after urination can cause a bacterial build-up, which explains why it is important to fully empty your bladder each time you go to the bathroom.
Supplements containing D-mannose (a type of sugar) are also available for purchase. There is some limited evidence that suggests that D-mannose may be effective in treating UTIs by preventing E. Coli bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract wall (the bacteria stick to the sugar instead). The E.Coli bacteria are then removed from the body via urination.
At the start of a UTI, you may notice early warning signs such as pain, sudden urges to urinate, or cloudy urine. In this case, try to increase the amount of water you drink and take a rest. You may wish to try simple painkillers and over-the-counter medications, too. If symptoms persist, it’s advisable to take a UTI test in order to have access to prescription-only medication. You might consider using a DipUTI test kit at home. With DipUTI you can test yourself at home using a kit and a smartphone.
If a healthcare professional concludes that your urine dipstick and symptoms are indicative of a UTI, they can prescribe a course of appropriate antibiotics. Completing the full course of tablets should bring pain relief and fight off the infection.