UTI Pain Treatment Overview
First steps to consider
- See a healthcare provider because UTIs need to be treated with antibiotics.
- Help symptoms by drinking water, taking OTC pain relievers, drinking cranberry juice, and taking vitamin C.
- If you develop a fever or severe flank pain, go to the ER or urgent care
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When to see a medical provider
If you have symptoms of urinary tract infection (UTI), get evaluated by a healthcare provider as soon as you can—within 24–48 hours. Try drinking a lot of water and cranberry juice to help flush out the infection. If your symptoms are getting worse, see a doctor that day,
A fever, worsening lower abdominal pain, and severe flank pain may be signs that the infection is getting worse. You should get immediate medical attention at an urgent care or emergency room.
Contact your healthcare provider at the first signs of a UTI if you are immunocompromised or pregnant.
How do doctors test for UTI?
Many women can tell when they have a UTI. But it’s still important to get a urine test so the healthcare provider knows which bacteria is causing the infection and the best antibiotic to prescribe.
There are two types of urine tests:
- A urinalysis looks at microscopic characteristics of the urine to figure out the likelihood of an infection. You can get the results almost immediately.
- A urine culture is when the bacteria from the urine is grown to find out what kind it is and the antibiotics that should work best. A culture takes around 2–3 days.
- If you have more severe symptoms, your provider may order blood tests to check your kidney function or look for signs of a more widespread infection.
- There are OTC UTI tests that you can do at home.They look for white blood cells in your urine, which can be a sign of an infection but is not a definitive diagnosis.
What to expect from your visit
- A healthcare provider will test your urine to see if you have a UTI and the type of bacteria you have.
- They may start you on an antibiotic before getting back the urine culture results. Depending on the results, they may change your antibiotic.
- Since there are many similarities between UTIs and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), you may be asked about your sexual history and possibly be tested for an STI.
Prescription UTI medications
- Antibiotics include nitrofurantoin (Macrobid), amoxicillin, ciprofloxacin, and bactrim
- Phenazopyridine (Pyridium) for pain with urination
Types of providers
Many different specialists can treat UTIs.
- Primary care providers (both adult and pediatric)
- OB/Gyns specialize in women’s health.
- Urgent care or emergency room providers
- Genitourinary specialists such as urologists or urogynecologists. These specialists are usually for people with a complex history of UTIs.
Managing UTI pain at home
Urinary tract infections (or UTI) are bacterial infections that usually need to be treated with antibiotics. But there are some home remedies for UTI that can help with symptoms of urgency and pain while urinating.
- Drink plenty of water. This helps flush out the bacteria causing the UTI. It is one of the easiest things you can do to help your symptoms. It’s best to drink water and to avoid sugary drinks like soda.
- Phenazopyridine (AZO). This is an OTC pain reliever specifically targeted at the bladder. Your urine will turn orange. You can take it three times a day, and symptoms should lessen within a few hours. But don’t take it for more than 2 days without talking to your healthcare provider.
- OTC pain relievers. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) may help relieve the pain.
- Cranberry juice can prevent and treat UTIs by making the urine more acidic, which can prevent bacteria from sticking to the lining of the bladder. Avoid cranberry juice with high sugar.
- Vitamin C supplements may also make your urine more acidic, but there is less evidence that it helps treat UTIs.
Natural remedies for a UTI
- Probiotics. Known as the “good bacteria,” probiotics help form a protective barrier in the lining of some organs in the genitourinary tract. They are found in foods such as yogurt and kefir but can also be taken as a pill. Probiotics are better at preventing UTIs; there’s less evidence that probiotics can treat them.
- Natural supplements. Some supplements may help but the evidence is limited. These are generally safe to take:
- Cranberry extract is the pill form of cranberry juice.
- D-Mannose is a type of sugar found in cranberries that may prevent bacteria from sticking to the lining of the bladder.
- Garlic extract has been shown to have some antibacterial properties that may help with UTIs.
- Bearberry leaf is found in herbal tea and pills. It has antibacterial properties that may help with UTIs.