Basic facts about antibiotic treatment of UTIs
So, you just saw a doctor about the pain and burning you experience when peeing and were diagnosed with a urinary tract infection (UTI). Most likely, after testing a urine sample to figure out which bacteria has caused the UTI, your doctor will or already has given you a prescription for antibiotics. How long your antibiotics treatment will be depends upon how serious your UTI is. A mild simple UTI may require 2-3 days of antibiotics, but it can go as long as seven days, and complicated UTI may call for a two-week treatment. To ensure that all the bacteria are killed, it’s important that you follow the instructions of your doctor and take the antibiotics as long as prescribed for.
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Urinary tract bacterial resistance against common types of antibiotics has become a serious healthcare problem in recent years. For example, Bactrim, which is a combo antibiotic consisting of trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole, has been found to be ineffective in about 1/3 of UTI treatments. Therefore, your doctor will first test your urine to determine which bacteria we’re dealing with and pick the appropriate antibiotic. However, if after 2-3 days of taking antibiotics you haven’t yet noticed any improvements of UTI symptoms, see your doctor again, because the medication you are using might be ineffective. A different antibiotic drug may be required.
How to help the antibiotics defeat a UTI faster?
There are several things you can do to facilitate the work of the antibiotics and speed up your recovery. They are listed below. In fact, you should even pay attention to these things after stopping the antibiotic treatment and continue doing them for up to two weeks. This will help your still vulnerable bladder and urethra recover faster.
- Drink enough water. Sounds simple enough, but it’s easy to forget during a busy day. Staying hydrated increases the amount of urine passing through your urinary tract and, as you pee more frequently, there’s a greater chance of draining unwanted bacteria out of the bladder and urethra. Actually, making it a rule to stay hydrated has lots of health benefits, one of which is that it can help prevent UTIs from recurring in the future.
- Avoid unnecessary irritants. During your recovery (incl. the antibiotic treatment and for a couple of weeks thereafter) keep a distance from alcohol, caffeinated drinks, and citric food and beverages (all citrus fruits, juices, wine). Also cut back on your sugar intake, as the metabolism of UTI-causing bacteria feeds on sugars.
- Dress dry and warm. When the UTI happens during the summer months make sure your undies and pants aren’t too tight. The last thing you want is sweating between your legs. Use underwear made from breathable materials. During the winter months make sure that any body part below your navel is dressed comfortably warm. This will reduce bladder pain and aid the organ’s recovery.
- Abstain from sex for about two weeks after you’ve noticed the first UTI symptoms. Sexual intercourse risks contaminating your already weakened urinary tract with more bacteria. Frankly, sex also won’t be much fun when you have a UTI. So wait until you have fully recovered.
- You can try OTC pain relief medication if you think you can’t handle the pain until the antibiotics do their magic. So, it’s a short-term option for the first 1-2 days of treatment. After that, you probably won’t have any need for pain relievers. In fact, if you remain uncomfortable despite taking antibiotics, it’s better to talk to your doctor and perhaps try a different treatment rather than resorting to pain relievers. Azo and Uristat are popular choices.
Again, if you don’t notice any improvement within 2-3 days go to see your doctor again. In the rare event that things get worse rather than better, see your doctor right away or go to the ER. This is because a worsening condition, especially when accompanied by nausea, back pain, high fever and chills, could be the UTI infecting your kidneys. This is a life-threatening condition and requires immediate medical attention.
- CDC. “Antibiotic Treatments for Urinary Tract Infections Are Commonly Prescribed To Pregnant Women.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 Jan. 2018, www.cdc.gov/pregnancy/meds/treatingfortwo/features/kf-uti-antibiotic-treatments-pregnant-women.html. Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.
- Paul, Rudrajit. “State of the Globe: Rising Antimicrobial Resistance of Pathogens in Urinary Tract Infection.” Journal of Global Infectious Diseases, vol. 10, no. 3, 2018, p. 117, 10.4103/jgid.jgid_104_17. Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.
- Storme, Oscar, et al. “Risk Factors and Predisposing Conditions for Urinary Tract Infection.” Therapeutic Advances in Urology, vol. 11, Jan. 2019, p. 175628721881438, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6502981/, 10.1177/1756287218814382. Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.
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