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Urinary Tract Infections in Teens and Adults

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Medications

Oral antibiotics can treat most bladder infections and uncomplicated kidney infections successfully. In many cases, if the symptoms and urinalysis suggest a urinary tract infection (UTI), you will start taking antibiotics without waiting for the results of a urine culture.

The number of days your doctor will have you take antibiotics depends on your infection and the type of antibiotic medicine.

Antibiotics for recurrent infections

Doctors sometimes advise that women with repeat infections use preventive antibiotic therapy. This may include taking a small dose of antibiotics daily or on alternate days, taking antibiotics after sexual intercourse (since sex often triggers UTIs in women with recurrent infections), or taking antibiotics only when you develop symptoms. Talk with your doctor about which treatment strategy is right for you.

Medication choices

Medicines used to treat UTIs include:

  • Antibiotics to cure the infection. Antibiotics used for UTIs include sulfonamides with trimethoprim (such as Bactrim).
  • Phenazopyridine (such as Uristat) to treat the pain and burning of a UTI. Uristat is an example of phenazopyridine you can buy without a prescription.
  • Other nonprescription medicines for pain. These include acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (for example, Advil) and naproxen (for example, Aleve).

Medicines used to prevent recurrent UTIs include:

  • Antibiotics, including sulfonamides with trimethoprim (such as Bactrim).
  • Methenamine (such as Hiprex).
  • Vaginal estrogen (such as Estrace, Estring, or Vagifem) for women who have been through menopause.

Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are or think you may be pregnant. Some of these medicines are not safe to use if you are pregnant.

What to think about

These medicines are often prescribed in a less costly generic form rather than under a brand name. A pharmacist might also decide to give you a generic instead of a brand name medicine unless the prescription says "no generic."

Take all of the antibiotics your doctor has prescribed. Most people begin to feel better soon after they begin the medicine. But if you stop taking the medicine as soon as you feel better, the infection may return. And not taking the full course of antibiotics encourages the development of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. This not only makes antibiotics less effective but also makes bacterial infections harder to treat.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 13, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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