Woman with uncomfortable symptoms lying on couch and wondering how long a UTI can go untreated

How Long Can a UTI Go Untreated?

Medically reviewed on August 11, 2023 by Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP. 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 can feel like a nuisance to deal with, especially if you get them often. However, it’s a type of infection that shouldn’t be ignored: while the most common type of UTI is a bladder infection, infections can also take root in the urethra, ureters, and kidneys. This is why you need to understand a bladder infection vs. UTI. Untreated UTIs are more likely to spread to other organs, potentially leading to kidney damage. [1]

If you have a UTI (especially a recurring case), treating the bacterial infection can help reduce the severity of its potential health consequences. To simplify the process, we’ll discuss why addressing UTIs early matters and what to expect from treatment is warranted.

When Should I Get a UTI Treated?

Because UTIs are common, many people instinctively minimize their potential impact and may put off treatment when they have one.

How long can a UTI go untreated? Technically, there is no firm rule about when to seek treatment for a UTI. That said, seeking UTI treatment online can help prevent further issues from arising and can be sought based on the following factors.

Symptom Severity

In some cases, your immune system will resolve a UTI on its own. But if symptoms persist or worsen, it’s a sign to reach out to a healthcare provider.

Symptoms of a UTI may include [2]:

  • Feeling the need to urinate often
  • Not feeling “empty” after urination
  • Burning or pain while urinating
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria)
  • A feeling of pressure around the pelvic area or abdomen

Wondering how to relieve UTI pain? Most UTI symptoms are mild. If you have a UTI accompanied by symptoms like back pain and fever, it is very important to get treatment.3 These symptoms could be an indication of a kidney infection, which must be managed by a healthcare provider. [3]

See related: Can a UTI Cause Bleeding?

UTI Frequency

If you have recurring UTIs, it’s best to get evaluated as soon as possible. Home remedies may not be effective for UTIs if your condition is caused by an underlying issue.

Moreover, your healthcare provider can assess what may be causing the UTIs. This could be a personal habit (like not peeing after sex) or a structural problem (your urinary anatomy).

See related: Can Recurrent UTIs Be a Sign of Cancer?

Why It’s Important to Treat a UTI

UTI treatment protects your well-being by preventing your urinary infection from spreading to other parts of your body. This helps ensure your infection does not progress, becoming more difficult and onerous to treat. [2]

Seeking treatment also gives your healthcare provider the opportunity to ensure you’re properly diagnosed. If you do not have a urinary tract infection, they may recommend screening for conditions like sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or other conditions with overlapping symptoms. [4]

How UTIs Are Diagnosed

Healthcare providers apply various approaches to diagnose a urinary tract infection, including:

  • Urine analysis – Your healthcare provider will take a sample of urine to screen it for signs of infection. After, they’ll assess what type of bacteria is causing the infection so they know which antibiotics to treat it with. [5]
  • Cystoscopy – This is a procedure that lets healthcare providers examine the bladder. It requires them to insert an instrument through the urethra and bladder. The procedure is only used in some cases, like when a patient has recurring UTIs. [5]
  • Scans (if applicable) – If you suffer from recurring UTIs, your healthcare provider might order a computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. These take a look at your urinary anatomy to see if a structural abnormality is causing frequent UTIs. If that’s the case, they may recommend surgery to correct the abnormality. [5]

How UTIs Are Treated

The most common medical treatment for UTIs is a course of antibiotics. [5] These help wipe out the bacteria that are causing the infection.

With antibiotics, many people see a decline in UTI symptoms a few days after starting the treatment. [5] However, it’s very important you complete the round of antibiotics as prescribed (even if your symptoms begin to decrease before you’re finished). [5]

If you’ve treated UTIs with antibiotics multiple times before, your healthcare provider may advise against using them. Overuse of antibiotics can cause infection-causing bacteria to develop immunity to treatment.

In addition to medical treatment, there are several effective home remedies that may help coax UTIs out of your system. These include:

  • Stepping up your fluid intake – Drinking plenty of water and herbal tea can help guide bacteria out of your urinary system. [5]
  • Minimizing alcohol and coffee – These beverages can irritate the bladder and slow down healing. [5]
  • Drinking cranberry juice – Cranberries contain a substance (A-type proanthocyanidins) that helps dislodge bacteria like E. coli from the lining of the bladder. [6] Drinking pure cranberry juice may help along the UTI healing process. [6]

Get Ahead of Your Health With Everlywell

From telehealth consultations to prescription services, Everlywell offers affordable home care options without compromising quality. Find out more about online UTI treatment and take charge of your well-being by visiting Everlywell today.

How to Relieve UTI Pain

Bladder Infection vs. UTI: The Differences Explained

Can a UTI Cause Bleeding?


  1. Mayo Clinic. Kidney infection - Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. URL. Published 2018.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Urinary Tract Infection. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Published October 6, 2021.
  3. Urinary tract infections | Womenshealth.gov. womenshealth.gov. URL. Published April 2019.
  4. Bladder Cancer Symptoms - NCI. www.cancer.gov. URL. Published February 16, 2023.
  5. Mayo Clinic. Urinary tract infection (UTI) - Diagnosis and treatment - Mayo Clinic. Mayoclinic.org. URL. Published September 14, 2022.
  6. Can Cranberry Stop Your UTIs? Cleveland Clinic. URL. Published February 5, 2020. Accessed July 29, 2023.
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