Most uncomplicated UTIs (those that occur in healthy people with normal, unobstructed urinary tracts) are treated with a 3-day to 5-day course of antibiotics. Symptoms such as pain and a frequent urge to urinate usually resolve after a day or two of antibiotic treatment. However, it is important that the entire course of medication is taken as prescribed to ensure that all the bacteria are destroyed and reduce the risk of recurrent infection.
Women who have recurrent UTIs may wish to discuss the following treatment options with their healthcare provider:
- A long course (6 months or more) of low-dose antibiotics
- A single dose of antibiotic after sexual intercourse
- Vaginal estrogen therapy for postmenopausal women
In a complicated or recurrent UTI, the infection may be caused by more than one type of bacteria and the healthcare provider will need to select one or more antibiotics that will kill all of the bacteria causing the infection. If the infection has spread to the kidneys, the affected person may require several months of treatment. This is also true of men with prostate infections.
Complicated UTIs include those that occur in people who have structural or functional abnormalities of the urinary tract, men and boys, people with diabetes and other chronic conditions, and pregnant women. Complicated UTIs usually require a longer course of antibiotics, starting with intravenous (IV) antibiotic therapy in in the hospital. After a short period of IV antibiotics, the antibiotics are given by mouth for up to several weeks. Kidney infection is often treated as a complicated UTI.
Sometimes recurrent or chronic UTIs will occur until an underlying structural abnormality, stone, obstruction, or disease or condition is addressed. For some conditions, surgery may be required to correct the underlying problem.