Written on December 22, 2022 by Amy Harris, MS, RN, CNM. 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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A UTI is a urinary tract infection, and as anyone who has had a UTI knows, they are not very enjoyable. UTIs are very common and show up at the most inconvenient times . In today’s world, it can be time-consuming, expensive, and downright impossible to get an appointment with a healthcare provider for treatment. So it makes sense to wonder whether you can get rid of a UTI in 24 hours without medication.
Some people might answer this question with the annoying quip, “when you know, you know.” But when it comes to UTIs, diagnosis is not always that easy. The most common symptoms of a UTI are :
UTI symptoms can also come and go, fooling you into thinking that you may not have an infection. While UTIs are 30 times more common in people with vaginas, people with penises can also get UTIs . Just to confuse matters, STIs can cause UTI-like symptoms in people with penises, such as :
The medications used to treat a UTI and an STI are different, so talk with a healthcare provider about your symptoms.
Most UTIs are caused by the bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli), which lives naturally in your body . So, unless you take the right antibiotic (a medication that treats bacteria), you cannot get rid of your UTI.
A urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria enter your urinary tract through the urethra. The urethra is the tube that drains urine from your bladder through your penis or urethra (in people with vaginas). It is easier for people with vaginas to get UTIs because their urethra is situated right next door to their vagina and anus, where there tend to be lots of E. coli naturally hanging out .
Cystitis (bacterial infection of the bladder) is the most common type of UTI . Your bladder stores urine (that comes from your kidneys) until you can empty the urine into the toilet. The tissue lining of your bladder becomes inflamed when you have a UTI. This bladder inflammation causes many of your agonizing UTI symptoms like frequency, urgency, pain, and burning with urination .
While only antibiotics will get rid of a UTI, you can take steps to try to feel better while you wait for the antibiotics to work. First, as with other infections, getting rest can help boost your immune system and help your body get rid of the bacteria causing your UTI.
The next most important thing you can do is to drink, drink, and drink some more water. When you are running to pee every two seconds, you might be tempted to drink less, but getting dehydrated (not having enough fluids in your body) will not help you feel better. You empty your bladder and flush away the bacteria each time you pee. The longer you hold your urine in your bladder, the longer the bacteria have to make themselves at home, making your infection worse .
Sticking to water and steering clear of other beverages and foods that can irritate your bladder lining will help you feel better. If you think you have a UTI, try to avoid these bladder irritants :
But what if you try these self-care measures but still aren’t feeling better, is there something else you can take besides medication for your UTI?
No. You can take over-the-counter medications that might help your symptoms feel better, but they will not get rid of your UTI or the bacteria causing the infection. Examples of these types of medications are acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen and NSAIDs (Advil), and phenazopyridine hydrochloride (AZO or Uristat). So, while you may feel like you got rid of your UTI in 24 hours, you may be putting yourself at risk for a more severe infection called pyelonephritis.
Pyelonephritis is when an infection of your urethra or bladder goes up into your kidneys. Symptoms of a kidney infection can include :
Pyelonephritis can develop easily and quickly. It is serious because it can cause swelling in your kidneys that will permanently damage them .
No. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), there is no evidence showing cranberries, cranberry juice, or cranberry supplements can treat UTIs . According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and NCCIH, there is limited evidence that daily consumption of specified amounts of cranberry dietary supplements or beverages may reduce the risk of recurrent UTIs in healthy women who have had a UTI . The bottom line is that if you think you have a UTI, you should see a healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment.
It can be helpful to rule out an STI as a cause of your UTI symptoms. Everlywell’s suite of at-home STI tests can help determine whether you need medication to treat an STI. Everlywell has tests for many common sexually transmitted infections, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomonas, all of which can cause symptoms that can mimic UTI symptoms in both people with penises or vaginas [3,10].
Everlywell also offers telehealth treatment, providing access to UTI antibiotic prescriptions online if needed. You can schedule a same-day telehealth appointment with an Everlywell healthcare provider who may prescribe medications for treatment, if applicable. While not all urinary symptoms mean you have a UTI, it is important to have a healthcare provider evaluate whether or not you need medication to feel better faster.