A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of the urinary system. The urinary system consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. UTIs often occur in the lower urinary tract (bladder and the urethra). Women, compared to men, are at greater risk of developing UTIs. UTIs are generally harmless and resolve on their own. However, it could lead to serious health issues if the infection spreads to the kidneys.
Up to 42% of uncomplicated UTIs resolve without medical treatment and by drinking more water and urinating more frequently. However, there are risks to leaving UTIs untreated. Recurrent or frequent UTIs could be caused by an underlying or persistent bladder infection.
When do you take antibiotics for UTIs?
Generally, UTIs are mild and do not require antibiotics and subside on their own. However, antibiotics are prescribed when:
- You have a complicated UTI, i.e. you have a disease or problem with your urinary tract
- Your UTI is recurring and frequent
- Your UTI is severe, or the infection is in your kidneys (in which case you will be given high-dose antibiotics through an IV)
- Sexual intercourse causes your UTIs, in which a dose of antibiotics is recommended right before you have sex
Not all antibiotics work for all UTIs
UTIs don’t always respond as expected and this may be because:
- The bacteria causing your UTI is antibiotic-resistant
- A bacteria, fungi or virus may be causing the UTI
- Your UTI symptoms may be caused by an underlying condition such as interstitial cystitis or a kidney infection
Antibiotics commonly prescribed for UTIs
Some common low-dose antibiotics that are prescribed for UTIs include:
Your urologist will generally prescribe you these types of antibiotics for UTI, but in the case of complicated UTI where the symptoms do not subside, the doctor might then prescribe you a second dose of antibiotics with a higher dose.
Why antibiotic dosage matters
Depending on their analysis of the UTI, your urologist may prescribe antibiotics for 2 to 3 days or even up to 7 to 10 days. Complicated infections can receive low-dose antibiotics for six months or longer. As mentioned earlier, severe UTI may even warrant IV antibiotics at a hospital.
It is important to complete the course of antibiotics prescribed because not all bacteria will die in the urinary tract. The bacteria can also become resistant to antibiotics, whereby the medication might not be able to treat your UTI again.
Talk to your Urologist
You should consult a urologist if your UTI symptoms don’t go away, get worse, or recur after treatment. It is important to communicate both your desired outcomes and concerns with your urologist so that they can work with you on a treatment plan that best suits you.
No urinary issue is too small. Dr Fiona Wu will work with you in creating a personalised treatment plan to ensure that your UTIs are properly managed.