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Urinary Tract Infection Treatment

Urinary tract infections are treated with medications that kill the bacteria causing the infection. Your health care professional will determine which medication to prescribe, and how you should take it, based on your medical history and condition and the results of the urine tests. Many medications can have side effects, so talk to your health care professional about what to expect when taking the drug. Also, medications can interact with other prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs, so make sure you discuss what drugs you are taking with your health care professional.

The antibiotics most often used to treat urinary tract infection are pills typically taken for three days, and sometimes as long as 10 days, depending on the bacteria causing the infection, the drug used your medical history:

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  • trimethoprim (Trimpex)
  • trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra, Cotrim)
  • amoxicillin (Amoxil, Trimox, Wymox)
  • nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin, Furadantin)
  • ampicillin
  • ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
  • ofloxacin (Floxin)
  • norfloxacin (Noroxin)
  • Levaquin (levofloxacin)

Urinary tract infections caused by microorganisms, such as chlamydia, may be treated with the antibiotics azithromycin, tetracycline or doxycycline.

Although your symptoms may be relieved in a day or two after starting the medication, you must take all the medication your health care professional prescribes. Otherwise, you run the risk of a recurrence.

If you are menopausal, you may experience more frequent urinary tract infections because thinning of the tissues of the vagina and urethra following menopause may make these areas less resistant to bacteria. Hormone replacement (either systemic or vaginal) may help. Discuss this treatment option and the latest research about its risks and benefits with your health care professional, with your personal health history and needs in mind.

Severe kidney infections may require hospitalization and treatment with intravenous antibiotics, especially if nausea, vomiting and fever increase the risk of dehydration and prevent the ability to swallow pills. Kidney infections can require two to six weeks of antibiotic therapy, although if caught early, they may be able to be treated with a 10-day course.

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In addition to taking your medication, your health care professional may recommend drinking plenty of fluid (the equivalent of six to eight 8-ounce glasses a day) to help flush the urinary tract, and to avoid foods and beverages that can irritate the urinary tract, such as coffee and alcohol. A heating pad may also help to temporarily relieve pain.

After you've completed your course of medication, your health care professional also may suggest a follow-up urine test.

Copyright 2003

National Women's Health Resource Center Inc. (NWHRC).

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