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Urinary Tract Infections in Teens and Adults

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Treatment Overview

Antibiotics can treat most urinary tract infections (UTIs) successfully. The goals of treatment for UTIs are to relieve symptoms, eliminate the infection and prevent recurrence, and prevent unlikely but serious complications such as kidney damage and sepsis. In pregnant women, treatment protects the woman and the fetus.

Initial treatment

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 frequently, emptying your bladder each time. More testing is not 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 nauseated to take medicine by mouth (oral medicine). Kidney infections tend to make people more severely ill than bladder infections.

You may need more tests before and after treatment if you:

  • Are pregnant.
  • Are older than 65.
  • Have diabetes or an impaired immune system.
  • Are a man.

If you have a severe kidney infection, or if a bladder or kidney infection is complicated by other factors, you may need hospital care.

Treatment if the condition gets worse or recurs

If your urinary tract infection (UTI) does not improve after treatment with antibiotics, you will need further evaluation and additional antibiotic treatment.

If the infection spreads and affects your kidney function or causes widespread infection (sepsis), you will need hospital care. These complications are not common. And they rarely occur in people who are otherwise healthy.

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). Chronic prostatitis can be hard to treat. For more information, see the topic Prostatitis. Follow-up checkups are usually needed for men who have UTIs and are always needed if the infection recurs.
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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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