What is the treatment for a urinary tract infection?

Treatment for a UTI should be designed for each patient individually and is usually based on how sick the patient is, what pathogen(s) are causing the infection, and the susceptibility of the pathogen(s) to treatments. Patients who are very ill usually require IV antibiotics and admission to a hospital; they usually have a kidney infection (pyelonephritis) that may be spreading to the bloodstream. Other people may have a milder infection (cystitis) and may get well quickly with oral antibiotics. Still others may have a UTI caused by pathogens that cause STDs and may require more than a single oral antibiotic. The caregivers often begin treatment before the pathogenic agent and its antibiotic susceptibilities are known, so in some individuals, the antibiotic treatment may need to be changed. In addition, pediatric patients and pregnant patients should not use certain antibiotics that are commonly used in adults. For example, ciprofloxacin (Cipro) and other related quinolones should not be used in children or pregnant patients due to side effects. However, penicillins and cephalosporins are usually considered safe for both groups if the individuals are not allergic to the antibiotics. Patients with STD-related UTIs usually require two antibiotics to eliminate STD pathogens. The less frequent or rare fungal and parasitic pathogens require specific antifungal or antiparasitic medications; these more complicated UTIs should often be treated in consultation with an infectious-disease expert.
All antibiotics prescribed should be taken even if the person's symptoms disappear early. Reoccurrence of the UTI and even antibiotic resistance of the pathogen may happen in individuals who are not adequately treated.
Over-the-counter medicines offer relief from the pain and discomfort of UTIs but they don't cure UTIs. Over-the-counter products like AZO or Uristat contain the medicine phenazopyridine (Pyridium, Urogesic), which works in the bladder to relieve pain. This medication turns urine an orange-red color, so patients should not be worried when this occurs. This medication can also turn other body fluids orange, including tears, and can stain contact lenses.