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How is a urinary tract infection (UTI) treated in teens and adults?
The goals of treatment for UTIs are to relieve symptoms, get rid of the infection and keep it from coming back, and prevent unlikely but serious complications such as kidney damage and sepsis. In pregnant women, treatment protects the woman and the fetus.
Antibiotics can cure most UTIs.
If your doctor prescribes antibiotics, take the pills exactly as you are told. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to finish taking them all so that you don't get sick again.
Treatment for bladder infections is usually a combination of antibiotics and home treatment. Home treatment includes drinking a lot of water and fluids and urinating often. Make sure to empty your bladder each time. More testing isn't needed if your symptoms improve.
Oral antibiotics usually can treat kidney infections (pyelonephritis). But you may need a brief hospital stay and a short course of intravenous (IV) antibiotics if you are too ill or sick to your stomach to take medicine by mouth (oral medicine). Kidney infections tend to make people more severely ill than bladder infections do.
For symptoms such as pain or burning in a bladder infection, phenazopyridine is a medicine you can buy without a prescription. But it doesn't treat the infection. You'll still need an antibiotic. This medicine should not be used for flank pain or kidney infections.
If your UTI doesn't improve after you take antibiotics, you will need further evaluation and more antibiotic treatment.
A new infection, rather than a relapse of the same infection, usually is the cause of a UTI that keeps coming back (recurs).
Women with recurrent bladder infections may be treated with preventive antibiotic therapy.
Recurrent UTIs in men are usually a sign of prostate infection (prostatitis). Long-term prostatitis can be hard to treat. Follow-up checkups are usually needed for men who have UTIs. They are always needed if the infection recurs.
If you have a severe kidney infection, or if a bladder or kidney infection has other complications, you may need hospital care.