Treatment for UTI

Bladder infections, kidney infections, and other urinary tract infections are often treated with antibacterial drugs. The type of drug used and the duration of treatment depend on the type of bacteria.

Most UTIs are treated with trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (e.g., Bactrim, Cotrim, Septra), amoxicillin (e.g., Amoxil, Trimox), or fluoroquinolones (e.g., Levaquin, Cipro). The infection may improve within a couple of days, but 1 to 2 weeks of medication may be prescribed to prevent a kidney infection.

UTIs that are caused by bacteria such as chlamydia trachomatis and mycoplasma hominis require a longer course of treatment with tetracycline (e.g., Achromycin), trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, or doxycycline (e.g., Periostat).

Infections complicated by bladder outlet obstructions (e.g., bladder stones, benign prostatic hyperplasia [BPH, enlarged prostate]) and other risk factors (e.g., spinal cord injury) may require surgery to correct the cause of UTI.

Kidney infections may require hospitalization and as many as 6 weeks of antibiotic treatment to prevent serious kidney damage.

Over-the-counter pain relievers (e.g., Tylenol, Advil) and a heating pad may be used to relieve discomfort caused by UTI. Drinking plenty of water helps to cleanse bacteria out of the urinary tract. Coffee, alcohol, and smoking should be avoided.

Frequent UTI (3 or more per year) may be treated with low-dose antibiotics for 6 months or longer or with a 1 to 2 day course when symptoms appear.

Follow up urinalysis is performed after treatment to make sure that the urinary tract is bacteria free.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved newer antibacterial drugs to treat complicated urinary tract infections (cUTIs; including kidney infections) in adults. Some of these medications (Zerbaxa, Avycaz) also are approved to treat other types of complicated intra-abdominal infections (cIAIs). These antibacterials include:

  • Dalbavancin (Dalvance)
  • Tedizolid (Sivextro)
  • Oritavancin (Orbactiv)
  • Ceftolozane/taxobactam (Zerbaxa; approved in December 2014)
  • Ceftolozane/avibactam (Avycaz; approved in February 2015)

Side effects include anxiety, diarrhea, fever, headache, and nausea and vomiting.

Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: Daniel Khouri, M.D., Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 09 Jun 1998

Last Modified: 13 Oct 2015