Written on December 22, 2022 by Sendra Yang, PharmD, MBA. 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, or urinary tract infection, is a common infection that can occur in your urinary system [1,2]. The urethra, ureters, bladder, and kidneys are part of the urinary system [2,3]. The purpose of the urinary system is to filter waste from the blood and remove it from your body in the form of urine . Depending on the part of the urinary system infected, the urinary infection can be less or more serious [1-3]. Infecting the lower part of the urinary tract, such as a bladder infection (also called cystitis), can be less complicated if treated appropriately [1-3]. A more complicated type of UTI involves the upper urinary tract or infects the kidneys and causes pyelonephritis [1,2].
UTIs are estimated to cause 8 to 10 million healthcare provider visits annually [2,3]. Women are at a higher risk of developing UTIs than men . During their lifetime, approximately 60% of women and 12% of men will have at least one UTI .
If you have ever had a UTI, you know how painful and annoying it can be. In a UTI, the lining of the urinary tract becomes red and inflamed, which can lead to many of the symptoms . However, UTIs do not always cause symptoms. If you do experience UTI symptoms, they may include [1-4]:
In more severe cases of UTIs where the kidneys are infected, symptoms may often include fevers and upper back pain, nausea and vomiting, or mental changes or confusion [2-4].
Normal urine has no presence of bacteria; however, bacteria may get into the urine through the urethra, travel up into the bladder or kidneys, and cause an infection . A bacteria called E. coli, typically found in the intestines, is known to cause more than 90% of bladder infections [2,4].
If treated promptly and adequately, UTIs can be resolved; however, if left untreated, UTIs can lead to serious health issues . Complications of UTIs can include [1,2]:
If you experience UTI symptoms, see your healthcare provider for an appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Your healthcare provider will ask more about your symptoms, do a physical exam, and order urine tests as needed .
Antibiotics are used to treat UTIs [1,5,6]. Antibiotics are medications used to kill bacteria and fight infections . Drinking plenty of water and liquids is essential to help clear the bacteria from the urinary tract and speed healing . Share with your provider if you have health conditions preventing you from drinking lots of fluids . Using a heating pad on your back or abdomen or taking pain medications can also help you manage the pain [5,6].
A healthcare provider can determine if you have a UTI and what antibiotics you need to treat the infection . Not only can a provider prescribe you an antibiotic for UTI in the office, but they can also prescribe a UTI antibiotic online or through telehealth.
Which antibiotic your provider prescribes is based on the type of bacteria causing your urinary infection and if you have any drug allergies [5,6]. How long you take the antibiotic depends on the severity of the condition, if symptoms resolve, if you have repeated infections, and if there are issues with your urinary tract . Listed here are some common antibiotics prescribed in the office and online for UTIs [2,5-7].
The different antibiotics used for UTIs also have many side effects, and the provider will weigh the benefits and risks .
If your healthcare provider prescribes you antibiotics for UTI, be sure to take the antibiotics exactly as prescribed and finish the course, do not share your antibiotics with others, and do not save them for later .
You can prevent UTIs through lifestyle changes. Here are some helpful tips [5-7]:
Everlywell can help you access a healthcare provider through a Virtual Care Visit. If you are experiencing UTI symptoms, schedule your appointment by visiting Everlywell's online UTI treatment option. Telehealth via Everlywell lets you speak with a qualified healthcare provider based on your availability from the comfort of your home through a remote video call.