Woman experiencing UTI symptoms wondering how to treat a UTI at home

How to treat a UTI at home: here's what to know

Written on March 24, 2023 by Theresa Vuskovich, DMD. 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.

Table of contents

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are among the most common bacterial infections, with an estimated 50% of women experiencing one at some point [1]. UTIs can affect any part of your urinary system [1-8]. UTIs are divided into upper tract infections (pyelonephritis) and lower tract infections (cystitis, urethritis, and prostatitis) [7].

The most common cause of UTIs is the bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli) [1-8]. As a result, antibiotics are often prescribed to treat UTIs [1-8]. However, you can treat a UTI at home. Let's review the basics of UTIs and how to treat a UTI at home without antibiotics.

What are the symptoms of a UTI?

Symptoms of UTI are different for each person, and you may have all or some of the following symptoms [2]:

  • Urination pain or burning
  • Urinating frequently
  • Despite having an empty bladder, feeling the need to urinate
  • Cloudy, milky, or unusually smelling urine
  • Urine with a bloody tint
  • Experiencing new lower belly pains
  • A feeling of pressure or cramping in the lower abdomen or groin

You can consult a healthcare provider via telehealth to receive a UTI diagnosis at home. You can discuss your symptoms and receive a UTI prescription online. The most common prescription medications for UTIs are [4,8]:

  • Ampicillin
  • Trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Bactrim DS)
  • Fosfomycin (Monurol)
  • Cephalexin (Keflex)
  • Nitrofurantoin (Macrobid, Furadantin, Macrodantin)

UTIs are self-limiting, meaning they go away on their own without medical intervention. A UTI typically resolves on its own for 25–42% of women [3,4]. However, treating a UTI at home without antibiotics is not appropriate for everyone. If you have a history of a complicated UTI, you should not treat a UTI at home. If any of the following apply to you, you should seek medical intervention for your UTI [9]:

  • HIV positive
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnant
  • Taking immunosuppressive medications or having a history of cancer
  • Over 65 years of age
  • History of kidney disease

Pyelonephritis (kidney infection) is one of the most severe complications of a UTI. You should not treat a UTI at home if you have a history of kidney infections or kidney disease.

Treating your UTI at home

You can treat your UTI at home if you are healthy and have a history of uncomplicated UTIs. Here's how [1-9].

Drink plenty of water

The most common recommendation you will receive when treating a UTI at home is to drink a lot of water. Drinking water can help eliminate bacteria from your urinary tract [3,6]. Whenever you have the urge to use the bathroom, completely empty your bladder to ensure the bacteria leaves your system.

Water intake needs vary by age, medication condition, and activity level. The general recommendation for women is nine 8-ounce glasses per day. Plain water is preferred over sparkling or flavored water.

Eat healthy foods

Boosting your immune system with healthy food is essential for a UTI. Eating nutrient-dense, water-rich foods can help your immune system fight a UTI infection. Eating leafy greens, berries, broccoli, and cauliflower can help you get rid of a UTI. According to one study, vegans and vegetarians experience fewer UTIs [5].

Foods with probiotics, such as yogurt and kefir, promote healthy bacteria growth and may help prevent UTIs in the future. However, additional studies are needed [6]. There is also a need for further research into the efficacy of cranberry juice as a treatment for UTIs [6]. When you have a UTI, avoid foods with spices and citrus, as they may irritate your urinary system and make urination more painful.

Use a heating pad

Heat can help reduce the pain associated with UTIs. During the day, you can relieve UTI pain by resting a heating pad on your lower abdomen, but don't sleep with one. It is essential to use a barrier between you and the heat source, such as a towel, to prevent burns.

Try over-the-counter pain relievers

Pain relievers such as ibuprofen can reduce pain but won't cure a UTI [3]. Make sure you follow the medication's dosage instructions.

Practice healthy hygiene habits

Practicing healthy hygiene habits will help reduce the duration of your UTI and prevent future UTIs. The following are healthy hygiene habits to treat a UTI:

  • Wipe front to back after using the bathroom
  • Urinate after sexual activity
  • Take showers instead of baths
  • Avoid douching, spraying, or powdering in the genital area

When not to treat a UTI at home

When you have a history of complicated UTIs, you should not treat your UTI at home and seek medical intervention. Additionally, consult a healthcare provider if you experience any of the following symptoms after treating your UTI at home:

  • Having symptoms that last longer than a week
  • Feeling new or different pain in your upper abdomen, lower back, or sides
  • Feeling flu-like (fever over 100.4°F)
  • Experiencing chronic nausea
  • Vomiting more than once

UTI treatment online via Everlywell

You can speak with a healthcare provider from the comfort of your home about your UTI symptoms via Everlywell. During your virtual care visit, a nurse practitioner will discuss your health history and symptoms. Schedule an appointment with Everlywell's online appointment scheduler for online UTI treatment to receive a customized UTI care plan.

How does remote patient monitoring work?

How to get a prescription without seeing a healthcare provider in person: what you need to know

What to do if you have COVID-19: key steps


  1. Zhang Y, Wu JG, Zhou HJ, Huang WX, Jia B. Efficacy of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for treatment of uncomplicated lower urinary tract infections in women: A meta-analysis: A meta-analysis. Infect Microbes Dis. 2020;2(2):77-82. doi:10.1097/im9.0000000000000020. URL
  2. Imam TH. Overview of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). Merck Manuals Consumer Version. URL. Accessed January 26, 2023.
  3. Bergamin PA, Kiosoglous AJ. Non-surgical management of recurrent urinary tract infections in women. Transl Androl Urol. 2017;6(Suppl 2):S142-S152. doi:10.21037/tau.2017.06.09. URL
  4. Foxman B, Buxton M. Alternative approaches to conventional treatment of acute uncomplicated urinary tract infection in women. Curr Infect Dis Rep. 2013;15(2):124-129. doi:10.1007/s11908-013-0317-5. URL
  5. Chen YC, Chang CC, Chiu THT, Lin MN, Lin CL. The risk of urinary tract infection in vegetarians and non-vegetarians: a prospective study. Sci Rep. 2020;10(1):906. Published 2020 Jan 30. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-58006-6. URL
  6. Sihra N, Goodman A, Zakri R, Sahai A, Malde S. Nonantibiotic prevention and management of recurrent urinary tract infection. Nat Rev Urol. 2018;15(12):750-776. doi:10.1038/s41585-018-0106-x. URL
  7. Imam TH. Bacterial Urinary Tract Infections. Merck Manuals Professional Edition. Accessed March 6, 2023. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary-disorders/urinary-tract-infections-utis/bacterial-urinary-tract-infections. URL
  8. Flores-Mireles, A.L., Walker, J.N., Caparon, M., Hultgren, S.J., 2015. Urinary tract infections: epidemiology, mechanisms of infection and treatment options. Nature Reviews Microbiology 13, 269–284.. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrmicro3432. URL
  9. Sabih A, Leslie SW. Complicated Urinary Tract Infections. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; November 28, 2022. URL
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