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Medications for Urinary Tract Infection

Other names: bladder; Cystitis, acute bacterial; Infection, Urinary Tract; UTI

Medically reviewed by Carmen Pope, BPharm. Last updated on Dec 1, 2023.

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in your urinary tract. Bladder infections are also called cystitis and are usually considered a “simple UTI”. Treatment is usually with antibiotics (such as nitrofurantoin) for three to seven days. Some bacteria are resistant to antibiotics commonly used for UTIs and preferred treatment depends on the local antibiotic treatment protocol, duration of infection, and other conditions (such as pregnancy). Examples include:

Paracetamol or ibuprofen can be used for pain relief if necessary.

Concomitant urinary alkalinisers are no longer routinely recommended in the acute treatment of urinary tract infections as they raise urinary pH which may decrease the effectiveness of some antibiotics (e.g. nitrofurantoin).

For a urinary tract infection (UTI), seeing a healthcare provider is essential for antibiotics. Follow the full antibiotic course even if symptoms improve. For frequent UTIs, antibiotics may be recommended daily, every other day, post-sex, or at symptoms' onset.

Some minor urinary tract infections may resolve without treatment, but antibiotics are typically required for most UTIs. Antibiotics are essential, especially if you experience symptoms like fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting alongside a UTI.

What are the Symptoms of a UTI

Symptoms of a UTI can differ depending on what part of the urinary tract is infected.

A bladder infection usually causes symptoms that include the following:

  • Burning when urinating (the medical term for this is dysuria)
  • The feeling that you need to pee frequently, but when you go to the toilet very little urine comes out
  • Pain in the pelvic area just above the pubic bone.

People with an infection of the urethra (called urethritis) may experience symptoms similar to a bladder infection in addition to itching or irritation at the end of the urethra where the pee comes out.

Symptoms of a kidney infection are usually more widespread and more severe than those of a bladder infection and may include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  • Pink or red-tinged urine (this is a sign of bleeding in the urinary tract)
  • Burning when urinating
  • The feeling that you need to pee frequently, but when you go to the toilet very little urine comes out
  • Pain in the pelvic area just above the pubic bone
  • Moderate to severe lower back pain
  • Nausea or vomiting.

Kidney infections are considered the worst type of UTI and usually start as a bladder or urethra infection but then the bacteria multiply and travel up to the kidneys. Kidney infections are usually called complicated UTIs and some people may require hospitalization for intravenous antibiotics. Less severe infections may be treated with oral antibiotics over a week or more. Untreated kidney infections can be life-threatening.

Preventing UTIs

There is controversy over whether unsweetened cranberry juice is an effective treatment or prevention for UTIs. A 2013 review of 24 studies concluded that it was less effective than previously thought. The risk of UTIs may be lessened by staying hydrated and urinating when the need arises, not holding it in.

Women should wipe from front to back after a bowel movement, urinate before and after sex, and avoid using douches, vaginal sprays, and scented feminine hygiene products. They should avoid wearing restrictive, synthetic clothing, or change out of such clothing as soon as possible after exercising or swimming.

What Causes UTIs

Most UTIs are caused by bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, or Staphylococcus saprophyticus.

Your urinary tract includes your bladder, kidneys, ureter (the tube that connects your kidneys to your bladder), and urethra (the tube that removes urine from your body). A bladder infection is a type of urinary tract infection, but not all UTIs are bladder infections.

What Increases Your Risk for UTIs?

Women of all ages are most at risk of UTIs because the female urethra is much shorter than the male urethra, which allows bacteria near the vagina to enter the bladder more easily. Older males are also at a higher risk. Other factors that increase the risk of a UTI include:

  • Sexual intercourse
  • Certain contraceptives (eg, diaphragms or spermicides)
  • Wiping from back to front after a bowel movement
  • The presence of kidney or bladder stones
  • Urinating without fully emptying the bladder
  • Pregnancy
  • Having a urinary catheter.

UTIs in children are reasonably common, affecting up to 8% of girls and 2% of boys. Young children also have a higher risk of kidney damage from UTIs than adults.  Some children are born with vesicoureteral reflux, where urine reenters the bladder from one or both ureters, which also increases the likelihood of UTIs.

A bladder infection is a type of urinary tract infection, but not all UTIs are bladder infections. Bladder infections are the most common type of UTIs. A bladder infection may also be called cystitis and it is usually caused by bacteria.

Drugs used to treat Urinary Tract Infection

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

Filter
Drug name Rating Reviews Activity ? Rx/OTC Pregnancy CSA Alcohol
nitrofurantoin 4.3 1289 reviews for nitrofurantoin to treat Urinary Tract Infection
Rx B N
Generic name:
nitrofurantoin systemic
Brand names:
Macrobid, Macrodantin, Furadantin
Drug class:
urinary anti-infectives
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
ciprofloxacin 4.9 394 reviews for ciprofloxacin to treat Urinary Tract Infection
Rx C N
Generic name:
ciprofloxacin systemic
Brand names:
Cipro, Cipro I.V., Cipro XR
Drug class:
quinolones and fluoroquinolones
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
Macrobid 4.4 571 reviews for Macrobid to treat Urinary Tract Infection
Rx B N
Generic name:
nitrofurantoin systemic
Drug class:
urinary anti-infectives
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
Cipro 5.6 170 reviews for Cipro to treat Urinary Tract Infection
Rx C N
Generic name:
ciprofloxacin systemic
Drug class:
quinolones and fluoroquinolones
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
sulfamethoxazole / trimethoprim 4.4 758 reviews for sulfamethoxazole / trimethoprim to treat Urinary Tract Infection
Rx D N X
Generic name:
sulfamethoxazole / trimethoprim systemic
Brand names:
Bactrim, Septra, Septra DS, Co-trimoxazole, Sulfatrim Pediatric
Drug class:
sulfonamides
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
Bactrim 4.5 260 reviews for Bactrim to treat Urinary Tract Infection
Rx D N X
Generic name:
sulfamethoxazole / trimethoprim systemic
Drug class:
sulfonamides
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
amoxicillin 6.6 41 reviews for amoxicillin to treat Urinary Tract Infection
Rx B N
Generic name:
amoxicillin systemic
Brand name:
Amoxil
Drug class:
aminopenicillins
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
Amoxil 10 1 review for Amoxil to treat Urinary Tract Infection
Rx B N
Generic name:
amoxicillin systemic
Drug class:
aminopenicillins
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
doxycycline 6.5 41 reviews for doxycycline to treat Urinary Tract Infection
Rx D N X
Generic name:
doxycycline systemic
Brand names:
Vibramycin, Doryx, Doxy 100, Monodox, Doryx MPC, Oraxyl
Drug class:
tetracyclines, miscellaneous antimalarials
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
Augmentin 5.2 19 reviews for Augmentin to treat Urinary Tract Infection
Rx B N
Generic name:
amoxicillin / clavulanate systemic
Drug class:
beta-lactamase inhibitors
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
levofloxacin 4.7 74 reviews for levofloxacin to treat Urinary Tract Infection
Rx C N
Generic name:
levofloxacin systemic
Brand name:
Levaquin
Drug class:
quinolones and fluoroquinolones
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
amoxicillin / clavulanate 6.0 66 reviews for amoxicillin / clavulanate to treat Urinary Tract Infection
Rx B N
Generic name:
amoxicillin / clavulanate systemic
Brand names:
Augmentin, Amoclan, Augmentin XR
Drug class:
beta-lactamase inhibitors
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
ceftriaxone 9.2 57 reviews for ceftriaxone to treat Urinary Tract Infection
Rx B N
Generic name:
ceftriaxone systemic
Drug class:
third generation cephalosporins
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
Levaquin 5.4 40 reviews for Levaquin to treat Urinary Tract Infection
Rx C N
Generic name:
levofloxacin systemic
Drug class:
quinolones and fluoroquinolones
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
Macrodantin 4.3 29 reviews for Macrodantin to treat Urinary Tract Infection
Rx B N
Generic name:
nitrofurantoin systemic
Drug class:
urinary anti-infectives
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
cefuroxime 6.7 23 reviews for cefuroxime to treat Urinary Tract Infection
Rx B N
Generic name:
cefuroxime systemic
Brand names:
Ceftin, Zinacef
Drug class:
second generation cephalosporins
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
methenamine 8.4 34 reviews for methenamine to treat Urinary Tract Infection
Rx/OTC C N
Generic name:
methenamine systemic
Brand name:
Hiprex
Drug class:
urinary anti-infectives
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
trimethoprim 3.0 148 reviews for trimethoprim to treat Urinary Tract Infection
Rx C N
Generic name:
trimethoprim systemic
Brand name:
Primsol
Drug class:
urinary anti-infectives
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
Ceftin 6.7 3 reviews for Ceftin to treat Urinary Tract Infection
Rx B N
Generic name:
cefuroxime systemic
Drug class:
second generation cephalosporins
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
Vibramycin 10 2 reviews for Vibramycin to treat Urinary Tract Infection
Rx D N X
Generic name:
doxycycline systemic
Drug class:
tetracyclines, miscellaneous antimalarials
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
ampicillin 10 2 reviews for ampicillin to treat Urinary Tract Infection
Rx B N
Generic name:
ampicillin systemic
Drug class:
aminopenicillins
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
Septra 5.4 9 reviews for Septra to treat Urinary Tract Infection
Rx D N X
Generic name:
sulfamethoxazole / trimethoprim systemic
Drug class:
sulfonamides
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
Septra DS 7.5 10 reviews for Septra DS to treat Urinary Tract Infection
Rx D N X
Generic name:
sulfamethoxazole / trimethoprim systemic
Drug class:
sulfonamides
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
Uribel 6.4 38 reviews for Uribel to treat Urinary Tract Infection
Rx C N X
Generic name:
hyoscyamine / methenamine / methylene blue / phenyl salicylate / sodium biphosphate systemic
Drug class:
urinary antispasmodics
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
Doryx 4.0 1 review for Doryx to treat Urinary Tract Infection
Rx D N X
Generic name:
doxycycline systemic
Drug class:
tetracyclines, miscellaneous antimalarials
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information

Frequently asked questions

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Topics under Urinary Tract Infection

Alternative treatments for Urinary Tract Infection

The following products are considered to be alternative treatments or natural remedies for Urinary Tract Infection. Their efficacy may not have been scientifically tested to the same degree as the drugs listed in the table above. However there may be historical, cultural or anecdotal evidence linking their use to the treatment of Urinary Tract Infection.

Legend

Rating For ratings, users were asked how effective they found the medicine while considering positive/adverse effects and ease of use (1 = not effective, 10 = most effective).
Activity Activity is based on recent site visitor activity relative to other medications in the list.
Rx Prescription only.
OTC Over-the-counter.
Rx/OTC Prescription or Over-the-counter.
Off-label This medication may not be approved by the FDA for the treatment of this condition.
EUA An Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) allows the FDA to authorize unapproved medical products or unapproved uses of approved medical products to be used in a declared public health emergency when there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives.
Expanded Access Expanded Access is a potential pathway for a patient with a serious or immediately life-threatening disease or condition to gain access to an investigational medical product (drug, biologic, or medical device) for treatment outside of clinical trials when no comparable or satisfactory alternative therapy options are available.
Pregnancy Category
A Adequate and well-controlled studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus in the first trimester of pregnancy (and there is no evidence of risk in later trimesters).
B Animal reproduction studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women.
C Animal reproduction studies have shown an adverse effect on the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
D There is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience or studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
X Studies in animals or humans have demonstrated fetal abnormalities and/or there is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience, and the risks involved in use in pregnant women clearly outweigh potential benefits.
N FDA has not classified the drug.
Controlled Substances Act (CSA) Schedule
M The drug has multiple schedules. The schedule may depend on the exact dosage form or strength of the medication.
U CSA Schedule is unknown.
N Is not subject to the Controlled Substances Act.
1 Has a high potential for abuse. Has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. There is a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.
2 Has a high potential for abuse. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions. Abuse may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
3 Has a potential for abuse less than those in schedules 1 and 2. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.
4 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 3. It has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 3.
5 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 4. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 4.
Alcohol
X Interacts with Alcohol.

Further information

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