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Urinary Tract Infections in Teens and Adults (cont.)

Home Treatment

You may be able to cure an early urinary tract infection (UTI) if you act promptly when you have the first symptoms of a UTI, such as pain and burning with urination. Try these home treatment steps that may stop an infection from getting worse:

  • Drink lots of water, especially during the first 24 hours after your symptoms appear. This will help make the urine less concentrated and wash out the infection-causing bacteria. This may alter some of your body's normal defense mechanisms. But most doctors recommend drinking a lot of fluids when you have a UTI. Some people also drink cranberry juice.
  • Urinating frequently and completely, to empty your bladder each time.

To relieve pain, take a hot bath or lay a heating pad over your genital area. Never go to sleep with a heating pad in place.

Self-treatment of recurrent UTIs

If you are a woman who has frequent uncomplicated UTIs, your doctor may write a standing prescription for antibiotics to take if you notice symptoms of a UTI. If you and your doctor agree to follow this approach and you start to have symptoms that you are certain are caused by a UTI, follow your doctor's instructions for taking the medicine and for watching your symptoms. Be sure to tell your doctor if your symptoms do not improve or if you start having UTIs more often than in the past.

Medications

Oral antibiotics can treat most bladder infections and uncomplicated kidney infections successfully. In many cases, if the symptoms and urinalysis suggest a urinary tract infection (UTI), you will start taking antibiotics without waiting for the results of a urine culture.

The number of days your doctor will have you take antibiotics depends on your infection and the type of antibiotic medicine.

Antibiotics for recurrent infections

Doctors sometimes advise that women with repeat infections use preventive antibiotic therapy. This may include taking a small dose of antibiotics daily or on alternate days, taking antibiotics after sexual intercourse (since sex often triggers UTIs in women with recurrent infections), or taking antibiotics only when you develop symptoms. Talk with your doctor about which treatment strategy is right for you.

Medication choices

Medicines used to treat UTIs include:

Medicines used to prevent recurrent UTIs include:

Be sure to tell your doctor if you are or think you may be pregnant. Some of these medicines are not safe to use if you are pregnant.

What to think about

These medicines are often prescribed in a less costly generic form rather than under a brand name. A pharmacist might also decide to give you a generic instead of a brand name medicine unless the prescription says "no generic."

Take all of the antibiotics your doctor has prescribed. Most people begin to feel better soon after they begin the medicine. But if you stop taking the medicine as soon as you feel better, the infection may return. And not taking the full course of antibiotics encourages the development of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. This not only makes antibiotics less effective but also makes bacterial infections harder to treat.

Many forms of bacteria have become resistant to common antibiotics designed to destroy them. These are called antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance among bacteria that cause UTIs has increased steadily in recent decades. You and your doctor may have to try different antibiotics, and different combinations of antibiotics, to find the right medicine that will kill the bacteria that is causing your UTI. Before starting you on a new antibiotic, your doctor may get a urine sample from you. Results from tests on this sample will help guide the decision on which antibiotic you take next.

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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