Healthcare provider discussing with patient the effectiveness of amoxicillin for UTI treatment

Effectiveness of Amoxicillin for UTI Treatment

Medically reviewed on April 4, 2024 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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UTIs, or urinary tract infections, are one of the most common types of infections to contract. [1] They chiefly affect women and people assigned female at birth (AFAB), whose urinary anatomy makes it easier to become infected. [2]

Mild UTIs seldom require antibiotic treatment. However, severe or recurring UTIs may warrant antibiotics to help bring the bacteria in your urinary system back into balance. So, can amoxicillin treat UTIs? Though amoxicillin isn’t typically the first-choice antibiotic for UTI treatment, it can be an effective option. Taken as prescribed, you may experience symptom relief days or even hours after starting your course of antibiotics.

As with all antibiotics, adhering to your healthcare provider’s instructions will help promote a full recovery while keeping your risk of bacterial resistance low. Additionally, understanding the advantages and drawbacks of amoxicillin can help you better protect and maintain your long-term overall health.

Is Amoxicillin an Effective Treatment for UTIs?

Amoxicillin for UTI treatment can be effective. However, it’s not usually considered a first line of defense. [3] This is because:

  • Not all UTIs need to be treated with an antibiotic – In the case of mild or single UTIs, antibiotic treatment may be too aggressive or unnecessary. Using an antibiotic to treat a mild UTI could heighten a person’s risk of developing bacterial resistance. [4]
  • Other antibiotics are typically prescribed for UTIs first – Today, other antibiotics are generally recommended before amoxicillin. These include antibiotics like [3]:
    • Fosfomycin (Monurol)
    • Nitrofurantoin (Macrobid)
    • Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim)
    • Fluoroquinolones (Ofloxacin), though these might carry a high risk of resistance

You should not take amoxicillin for a UTI if you have not obtained a prescription from a qualified healthcare provider. [5]

If you are prescribed, amoxicillin can be highly effective at dispelling UTI-causing bacteria and alleviating UTI symptoms. With proper use, most people start to notice a cessation in symptoms immediately or within a few days of beginning their round. [5] That said, you must complete your entire antibiotics course to ensure your bacterial infection is treated thoroughly (not just your UTI symptoms).

How Does Amoxicillin Treat UTIs?

Amoxicillin belongs to the class of antibiotics known as penicillin. [6] It’s what’s known as a broad-spectrum antibiotic, which means it works on several strains of bacteria to fight an infection at several sites around the body. [6]

Healthcare providers prescribe amoxicillin to treat a variety of infections, including those affecting the [7]:

  • Skin
  • Ear
  • Nose
  • Throat
  • Lower respiratory system
  • Urinary tract

Amoxicillin works by damaging the cell walls of harmful bacteria, making it harder for them to procreate and allowing your immune system to fight them off. Due to this mechanism of action, it can be very effective for treating UTIs.

Factors Impacting Amoxicillin Efficacy

The main factor impacting the effectiveness of amoxicillin for UTI treatment is medication compliance. This refers to how well you follow your healthcare provider’s instructions regarding dosage, frequency, and duration.

Typically, amoxicillin capsules are taken three times per day at the same time, and capsules typically contain between 250 and 500 milligrams (mg) per dose. [5] You should never take more than one dose of amoxicillin at a time, even if you forget to take your previous dose. For other questions such as how long amoxicillin takes to work, the proper dosage and duration of amoxicillin for a UTI, if you can take probiotics with antibiotics, or other protocols, be sure to contact your healthcare provider before starting this medicine.

Aside from following your prescription, several other factors play a role in determining how effectively amoxicillin can treat UTIs.

Type of Bacteria

Not all UTIs are caused by the same type of bacteria. In fact, some studies indicate that the types of bacteria most commonly responsible for UTIs could be changing globally. [8]

Amoxicillin can work well to combat certain types of UTI-causing bacteria, but it’s not as effective with a kind known as Gram-negative bacteria. [8] These are bacteria that tend to be highly resistant to antibiotic treatment. Increasingly, UTIs around the world are caused by this type of resistant bacteria.

Types of UTIs

Healthcare providers typically classify UTIs into two types [9]:

  • Uncomplicated urinary tract infection
  • Complicated urinary tract infection

Having an uncomplicated UTI means that you and your urinary tract are in good health, which makes it more likely that your bacterial infection will respond well to treatment. [9]

Complicated UTIs indicate you may have a preexisting condition, like being immunocompromised, or are in a unique stage of life, like pregnancy. [9] This can make treating a UTI with antibiotics more difficult.

Severity of Infection

Your urinary system has several parts, including the [10]:

  • Urethra
  • Bladder
  • Kidneys

The more severe your UTI is, the more likely that these organs will be infected. Severe UTIs can result in a kidney infection, which requires more aggressive antibiotic treatment and often hospital care.

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Does Amoxicillin Have any Side Effects?

Most people are able to take amoxicillin without experiencing side effects (or experiencing only mild ones). Symptoms that interfere with your daily life or do not abate on their own are a sign to get in touch with your healthcare provider immediately.

Possible side effects of amoxicillin include [4, 7]:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Changes in your sense of taste

The most common side effect caused by any antibiotic medication is diarrhea. This is because antibiotic medication like amoxicillin changes the makeup of your intestinal flora. [7]

In severe cases, diarrhea from amoxicillin use could be a sign of C. diff bacterial overgrowth and infection. If your diarrhea is severe or continues after you’ve completed your round of antibiotics, reach out to your healthcare provider right away.

Also note that amoxicillin, a penicillin-type antibiotic, can provoke an allergic reaction in some people. Signs of an allergy to amoxicillin include [4]:

  • Itchy skin or hives
  • Skin rash, blisters, or peeling
  • Facial, throat, tongue, mouth, or eye swelling
  • Wheezing
  • Constriction of the airways

These symptoms, as well as severe diarrhea, could indicate an anaphylactic reaction to amoxicillin. If you experience any of them, seek emergency treatment as swiftly as possible, as anaphylaxis can be fatal if it’s not treated immediately.

Are There Any Drawbacks to Treating UTIs With Amoxicillin?

On the whole, amoxicillin can be a highly effective drug for treating a UTI. However, it’s crucial to consider your health history (in consultation with a healthcare provider) before using it.

Using any antibiotic to treat an infection—whether of the urinary tract, or another part of your body—carries a degree of risk for developing antibiotic resistance. [11] This occurs when the bacterial flora in your body become resistant to medicines used to bring them into balance.

Bacterial resistance is more likely to develop if [11]:

  • Your healthcare provider has prescribed antibiotics frequently for previous cases of infections (as in the case of recurring UTIs)
  • You’ve previously used someone else’s antibiotics
  • You’ve self-medicated with antibiotics in the past
  • You’ve contracted an antibiotic-resistant bacteria from someone else
  • You’ve been prescribed antibiotics in the past but did not comply with the prescribed course (e.g. you missed a dose or did not complete your prescription duration)

Overusing or misusing antibiotics can have serious consequences—namely, it can limit your options for successfully treating a urinary infection in the future. In fact, antibiotic resistance is associated with [11]:

  • Longer recovery times
  • Longer hospital stays
  • Higher medical costs
  • Higher likelihood of severe or chronic illness
  • Higher likelihood of experiencing antibiotic medication side effects

Methods for Treating and Preventing Future UTIs

If you’re considering taking antibiotics for a UTI, be sure to consult with a healthcare provider either virtually or in person before doing so. Many UTIs resolve on their own and may not require antibiotic intervention.

If you have recurring UTIs, your healthcare provider may recommend therapies like low-dose antibiotics, which are taken in smaller amounts over a longer period. [12] The following at-home remedies may also help alleviate UTI symptoms and prevent recurrence [12]:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids – Increasing your water intake helps to drain your bladder. This can dilute your urine and help dispel harmful bacteria.
  • Scaling back on irritating beverages – Coffee, alcohol, fruit juices (especially citrus), and sodas can irritate the bladder, worsening UTI symptoms like burning or painful urination. While dealing with an active urinary tract infection, it’s best to eliminate these from your diet.
  • Peeing after having sex – Sexually active women and people AFAB may be at a higher risk of developing a urinary tract infection. This is because sexual intercourse tends to “spread” bacteria between the genitals and urethra. Fortunately, simply peeing after sex can help to keep bacteria from traveling into your lower urinary tract. [12]

Remember, it’s important to consider amoxicillin and other antibiotics with care when treating UTIs. Using them too often (particularly if you have recurring UTIs) could have long-term consequences if you develop a urinary infection in the future.

Bringing a qualified professional into the conversation can ensure you make the best possible choice for your recovery.

Make the Right Choices for Your Health With Everlywell

Whether you need an antibiotic prescription or you’re starting your journey to a healthier lifestyle, let Everlywell connect you to resources you can rely on.

With virtual care visits, prescription fulfillment services, and at-home health tests, Everlywell offers convenient, at-home care options without the added cost.

Get started by visiting Everlywell for online UTI treatment today.

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  2. Urinary tract infection (UTI) - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. Published September 14, 2022. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 26, 2024.
  3. Langner JL, Chiang KF, Stafford RS. Current prescribing practices and guideline concordance for the treatment of uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2021;225(3):272.e1-272.e11. doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2021.04.218. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 26, 2024.
  4. Amoxicillin: MedlinePlus drug information. Last reviewed September 15, 2023. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 26, 2024.
  5. Website N. Amoxicillin. Published July 3, 2023. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 26, 2024.
  6. Yip DW. Penicillin. StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf. Published May 19, 2022. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 26, 2024.
  7. DailyMed - AMOXICILLIN- amoxicillin capsule. Last reviewed February 5, 2024. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 26, 2024.
  8. Behzadi P, Urbán E, Matuz M, Benkő R, Gajdács M. The role of Gram-Negative Bacteria in Urinary tract infections: Current concepts and therapeutic options. In: Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. ; 2020:35-69. doi:10.1007/5584_2020_566. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 26, 2024.
  9. Sabih A. Complicated urinary tract infections. StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf. Published November 12, 2023. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 26, 2024.
  10. Components of the urinary system | SEER training. Published 2024. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 26, 2024.
  11. The antibiotic resistance crisis: part 1: causes and threats. PubMed. Published April 1, 2015. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 26, 2024.
  12. Fisher H, Oluboyede Y, Chadwick T, et al. Continuous low-dose antibiotic prophylaxis for adults with repeated urinary tract infections (AnTIC): a randomised, open-label trial. The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2018;18(9):957-968. doi:10.1016/s1473-3099(18)30279-2. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 26, 2024.

Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT is most fulfilled when guiding others towards making stepwise, sustainable changes that add up to big results over time. Jordan works with a wide variety of individuals, ranging in age from children to the elderly, with an assortment of concerns and clinical conditions, and has written for publications such as Innerbody. She helps individuals optimize overall health and/or manage disease states using personalized medical nutrition therapy techniques.
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