User Reviewed

How to Treat a Urinary Tract Infection

Three Parts:Getting Medical HelpTrying Home RemediesPreventing Future UTIs

You don't really think much about the importance of your urinary tract when you go to the bathroom. However, when you have a urinary tract infection, you probably have a hard time thinking about anything else. Try some of these ideas to treat a urinary tract infection. They range from medical solutions to at-home ideas that will both help you to recover and ease pain.

Part 1
Getting Medical Help

  1. Image titled Treat a Urinary Tract Infection Step 1
    Evaluate your symptoms. A urinary tract infection (UTI) is most common in women, and it's caused by bacteria in the urethra and the urinary bladder.[1] Left untreated, this bacteria has the potential to make its ways to your kidneys, where it can damage them. The signs that you may have a UTI include:
    • The feeling that you need to go frequently but little or nothing actually comes out
    • Pain/burning during urination (dysuria)
    • Fever and/or chills
    • Abdominal aching and pain in the pelvic region
    • Cloudy or unusually colored (dark yellow or greenish) urine
    • Blood in your urine
    • Foul-smelling urine
  2. Image titled Treat a Urinary Tract Infection Step 2
    Go to the doctor if you think you have a UTI. You need to get an accurate diagnosis, particularly if this is your first infection.
    • UTIs can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and even parasites. Knowing the cause will ensure that you get the right treatment. A doctor may need to prescribe antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals or even anti-parasite drugs.
    • You need to know what type of UTI you have. For example, urethritis is the infection of the urethra (the channel that carries urine from your bladder outside your body) while cystitis is an infection of the bladder.[2]
    • Only a doctor can prescribe drugs for such conditions as bladder spasms (e.g., atropine) and intense pain. Moreover, only a doctor will be able to determine whether surgery is needed.[3]
  3. Image titled Treat a Urinary Tract Infection Step 3
    Take the entire course of medication that's prescribed to you. Unfortunately, UTIs easily become resistant if you don't finish antibiotics,[4] so follow the instructions carefully and take all of your pills for the specified time period.
    • Do not drink alcohol if you are on antibiotics. It weakens their effectiveness.
    • Stay out of the sun if you're prescribed bactrim or any sulfa medications.
  4. Image titled Treat a Urinary Tract Infection Step 4
    Call your doctor if you don't notice improvements within a 24-hour period. Even if you feel better, take all of your medication to completely wipe out the infection.
  5. Image titled Treat a Urinary Tract Infection Step 5
    Control fever and pain using over-the-counter acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen sodium. If you have questions about what works best, talk to your doctor. Use painkillers sparingly.
  6. Image titled Treat a Urinary Tract Infection Step 6
    Take an over-the-counter medication like Azo Standard: Fast Relief for Urinary Pain. Note that this medicine will turn your urine a bright yellowish orange color.
    • Ask your doctor if you can take this medication before your appointment because it may affect the doctor's ability to read your test results. Also check with them before starting Azo, because some patients experience side effects.
    • Azo also makes an over-the-counter UTI test strip. Urinate over the strip and read the results. Of course, these at-home tests aren't perfect. See the doctor as a smart precaution even if you test negative.

Part 2
Trying Home Remedies

  1. Image titled Treat a Urinary Tract Infection Step 7
    Increase your fluid intake. Both during a UTI and after, you need lots of fluids to flush out the infection and to keep you hydrated. Drinking plenty of fluids can help to prevent cystitis.[5]
    • Choose water, non-caffeinated tea, hot lemon water and other healthy drinks.
    • Avoid caffeine, which could dehydrate you. Also, avoid sugary drinks and alcohol.
  2. Image titled Treat a Urinary Tract Infection Step 8
    Drink cranberry juice. Pick a juice that contains reduced sugar or an alternative sweetener; too much sugar isn't helpful, and no sweetener makes the juice too acidic. Use it in moderation and be sure to have a healthy, nutritious diet overall.
    • Cranberry juice won't cure a UTI, but it may prevent recurrence, particularly in women.[6]
      • If you have recurrent UTIs, drink 50 to 150 milliliters (1.70 to 5 fl. oz.) per day of 100 percent pure cranberry juice.[7]If it's diluted in juices, you may need to up the quantity.
      • Drinking cranberry juice can cause side effects. For instance, it can react with regular medications and can cause kidney stones. Also, drinking more than 3 liters (101 fl. oz.) a day can result in diarrhea.[8]
    • Cranberry juice won't work for men, and it won't treat an active UTI.[9]
      • Take cranberry concentrate pills, the sugar from cranberry juice will just feed the infection further.
  3. Image titled Treat a Urinary Tract Infection Step 9
    Stir 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda into 1 cup of water and drink it. The baking soda neutralizes acid in your urine, which makes peeing less painful. Don't overdo it because the baking soda may disturb the flora balance in your intestine.
  4. Image titled Treat a Urinary Tract Infection Step 10
    Place a heating pad over your pelvic area. Gentle heat may provide some pain relief.

Part 3
Preventing Future UTIs

  1. Image titled Treat a Urinary Tract Infection Step 11
    Urinate after sexual intercourse even if you feel tired or would rather snuggle with your partner. Doing this will flush out germs that may have found their way into the urinary tract during sex. A UTI is sometimes jokingly referred to as the "honeymooner's disease" because it can be associated with intercourse.
  2. Image titled Treat a Urinary Tract Infection Step 12
    Maintain a high level of fluid intake every day. Drink a lot of water and drink tea, diluted juice (in moderation and preferably not daily with the exception of the cranberry juice as outlined above) and other healthy drinks. Avoid sugary drinks or highly caffeinated drinks or energy drinks.
  3. Image titled Treat a Urinary Tract Infection Step 13
    Eat a healthy diet. The more antioxidant-rich and nutrient-rich your diet, the greater chance you give your body of defending itself against infections.
  4. Image titled Treat a Urinary Tract Infection Step 14
    Stay active. Do something physically daily to keep your immune system in good shape.
  5. Image titled Treat a Urinary Tract Infection Step 15
    Take showers instead of baths. Soaking in a tub can provide a breeding ground for infection. For the same reason, avoid sitting around in wet bathing suits or in a hot tub.
    • When you wash your genitals, use a plain, mild soap, or simply water. Skip anything heavily scented or anything containing an exfoliant.
    • Avoid douching, using feminine deodorant sprays or wearing scented pads or tampons. These products remove your body's natural protective barrier.
  6. Image titled Treat a Urinary Tract Infection Step 16
    Always wipe from front to back after you use the toilet. Do not then wipe forward; instead, discard the wiping paper immediately and use a fresh piece for the next wipe. Wiping this way will keep you from dragging germs from your anus toward your urethral opening.
    • If your hands get dirtied with fecal matter, wash them before wiping again (it is fecal bacteria, E. coli that is the culprit in 80 to 95 percent of UTIs[10]).
    • Fragrance-free baby wipes without alcohol might help with wiping if you're experiencing pain or a burning sensation.
  7. Image titled Treat a Urinary Tract Infection Step 17
    Wash your hands every time you use the bathroom. You'll prevent not only UTIs but also other illnesses.
  8. Image titled Treat a Urinary Tract Infection Step 18
    Wear cotton underwear. Make sure to wear clean underwear every day. Also, skip tight clothing that chafes against your genital area.
  9. 9
    Support your vaginal flora with potent probiotics!
  10. Image titled Treat a Urinary Tract Infection Step 19
    Go when you need to go. Don't hold urine in as this can invite infection.


  • Water is the best choice for increasing your fluid intake. Herbal teas like rooibos are also a good choice because they contain antioxidants. Fluids flush wastes and toxins from your body. When you don't drink enough fluid, imbalances happen and infections are more likely.
  • Pure cranberry juice appears to work as a preventative because it stops E. coli bacteria that does get into the urinary tract from adhering to the lining of the urinary bladder and urethra. Rather than killing this bacteria, it simply interferes with its lodgings and the usual emptying of your bladder flushes them out (hence the need for good fluid intake).[11]


  • A UTI can develop into nephritis or kidney infection, which may require hospitalization. If you suspect that you have an infection, get treatment quickly.
  • Sexual lubricants and spermicides can irritate your urethra. Avoid using lubricants containing nonoxynol-9 when you use condoms. Continue using spermicide if you use a diaphragm.

Things You'll Need

  • Doctor-prescribed medication (Be practicing steps 4-11 before consulting Nurse about Nsaids)
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers (Consulting Nurse, after steps 4-11)
  • Azo Standard or Azo test strips(Azo Standard Consulting Nurse, after steps 4-11)
  • Water, non-caffeinated tea and other hydrating drinks
  • Lightly sweetened cranberry juice (reduced sugar or artificial sweetener)
  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Heating pad
  • Plain, mild soap
  • Baby wipes (for sensitive skin)
  • Cotton underwear

Sources and Citations

  1. Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, Science is golden, p. 172, (2008), ISBN 978-0-7322-8536-4
  2. The Merck Manual of Medical Information, Urinary tract infections, p. 868, (2003), ISBN 978-0-7434-7733-8
Show more... (9)

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Urinary Health