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Treatments and Prevention of Urinary Tract Infections

What You Need to Know About UTI Treatments and Prevention

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Updated April 07, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

What Is the Treatment for Urinary Tract Infections?

Antibiotics (medications that kill bacteria) are the usual treatment for bladder infections and other urinary tract infections. Seven to ten 10 of antibiotics is usually required, although some infections may require only a single dose of antibiotics.

It's important that all antibiotics are taken as prescribed. Antibiotics should not be discontinued before the full course of antibiotic treatment is complete. Symptoms may disappear soon after beginning antibiotic treatment. However, if antibiotics are stopped early, the infection may still be present and recur.

An additional urine test may be ordered about a week after completing treatment to be sure the infection is cured.

Tips for Preventing Urinary Tract Infections

  • The most important tip to prevent urinary tract infections, bladder infections, and kidney infections is to practice good personal hygiene. Always wipe from front to back after a bowel movement or urination, and wash the skin around and between the rectum and vagina daily. Washing before and after sexual intercourse also may decrease a woman's risk of UTI.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids (water) each day will help flush bacterium out of the urinary system.
  • Emptying the bladder as soon as the urge to urinate occurs also may help decrease the risk of bladder infection or UTI.
  • Urinating before and after sex can flush out any bacteria that may enter the urethra during sexual intercourse.
  • Vitamin C makes the urine acidic and helps to reduce the number of potentially harmful bacteria in the urinary tract system.
  • Wear only panties with a cotton crotch, which allows moisture to escape. Other materials can trap moisture and create a potential breeding ground for bacteria. Avoid thongs.
  • Cranberry juice is often said to reduce frequency of bladder infections, though it should not be considered an actual treatment. Cranberry supplements are available over-the-counter and many women find they work when an UTI has occurred; however, a physician's diagnosis is still necessary even if cranberry juice or related herbals reduce pain or symptoms.
  • If you experience frequent urinary tract infections changing sexual positions that cause less friction on the urethra may help. Some physicians prescribe an antibiotic to be taken immediately following sex for women who tend to have frequent UTIs.

Things to Remember...

Although urinary tract infections are common and distinctly painful, they usually are easy to treat once properly diagnosed and only last a few days. When treated promptly and properly, UTIs are rarely serious.

Source:

Urinary Tract Infection. Medline Plus. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000521.htm. Accessed 08/24/2009.

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