How long does a UTI last?

Urinary tract infections are uncomfortable and can disrupt your life. How long do symptoms last

A urinary tract infection (UTI) can be annoying, painful and disrupting to your life. How long does a UTI last?

Although most UTIs aren’t serious, symptoms can be severe enough to interrupt your daily routine. Antibiotics usually are the best way to treat UTIs, but relief isn’t instant — it takes time for the medicine to ease symptoms.

Do I need to take antibiotics for a UTI?

“Once we start antibiotics, symptoms of a lower urinary tract infection typically improve within 24 to 48 hours,” said Monalisa M. Tailor, M.D., internal medicine physician with Norton Community Medical Associates – Barret. “If you have a kidney infection, it’s closer to three to seven days.”

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The following are rough estimates for treatment time in otherwise healthy adults with a UTI:

  • Acute UTI: three to seven days of antibiotics
  • Complicated UTI: seven to 14 days of antibiotics; a complicated UTI is an infection that has spread beyond the bladder
  • Acute UTI in pregnant patients: 7 seven to 14 days of antibiotics
  • Acute UTI in people with diabetes or who are immunocompromised:  should expect to feel better after 7 seven to 14 days of antibiotics.
  • Mild kidney infection: 7 seven to 14 days of antibiotics
  • Severe kidney infection: may take 14 days of antibiotics or longer and could require hospitalization

Always finish your antibiotics, even if your symptoms go away before you finish all the pills prescribed by the doctor.

“Just because symptoms have gone, it doesn’t mean the infection is gone,” Dr. Tailor said. “Continue taking the medication as directed until you have used all of it to be sure you fully eliminate the bacteria.”

Can I cure a UTI without antibiotics?

“Infection likely will last longer than the estimated times listed above if you don’t start antibiotics,” Dr. Tailor said. “We also want to be careful with home remedies. Generally, you should see a doctor if you begin to develop UTI symptoms that go on longer than two to three days. Without treatment, a minor infection could spread to your kidneys, putting you at risk for organ damage and serious blood infections.”

Signs that a lower UTI has become a kidney infection include:

  • High fever
  • Pain in your side or lower back
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

If you experience any of these symptoms, seek prompt medical attention.

How can you support antibiotics for UTI treatment?

“There are some things you can do at home to help the antibiotic work as effectively as possible,” Dr. Tailor said.

Those things include:

  • Drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
  • Use the bathroom any time you have the urge to urinate.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing and cotton underwear.
  • Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Manage stress.
  • Take prescribed medications as directed without skipping doses.

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