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Best Antibiotics for Treating Urinary Tract Infections

Best Antibiotics for Treating Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be seen in any age group. However, UTIs can occur in women at a higher rate than men. With this, women face UTIs more than once in their lifetime.

UTIs occur when bacteria enter any part of the urinary tract, including the urethra. If UTIs are not treated immediately, they may lead to severe kidney and bladder problems. UTIs can be classified into two types: uncomplicated UTIs and complicated UTIs.

UTIs can be treated through antibiotics. An Antibiotic is a medication that kills the bacteria and makes it hard for bacteria to grow and increase. Antibiotics come in tablets, capsules, oral suspension, etc. There are many antibiotics available for the treatment of UTIs.

What Are The Symptoms Of UTI?

Common Symptoms of UTI

  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Repeated or urgent urination
  • A tiny amount of urine
  • Blood in urine or cola-coloured urine
  • Smelly urine
  • Cloudy urine
  • Lower back pain
  • Pain in the lower belly especially seen in women

Severe Symptoms of UTI

If UTIs are not treated immediately, they may lead to severe infections or symptoms mentioned below:

Pyelonephritis (Kidney Infection): symptoms may be fever, chills, nausea or vomiting, and back pain.
Cystitis (Bladder Infection): symptoms may be pelvic pressure, lower abdomen, frequent urination, or blood in the urine.
Urethritis (Urethra Infection): symptoms can be intense burning during urination and discharge.

Older people can also get affected by bacteria. They may experience weakness, lethargy, and mental health issues. A urinary infection during pregnancy is complicated. You should immediately consult your doctor for check-ups.

How Do Antibiotics Treat UTIs?

All antibiotic classes have distinct capabilities. Their ability to work on certain infections varies. It depends on the causative agent (bacterial species) that they will target.

Antibiotics treat UTIs by killing the bacteria causing infection. This stops the bacterial growth in the urinary tract. Antibiotics can only treat bacterial infections. They do not work on viral or fungal infections.

You need to consult your doctor or healthcare provider to know which antibiotic will work well on your infection. Healthcare professionals consider specific criteria before selecting antibiotics for your infection. They test our urine samples to identify the bacteria causing infection and some other factors given below:

  • Antibiotic effectivity on the specific bacteria species
  • the severity of the infection
  • The age group of the patient
  • Possibility of antibiotic resistance

Names Of Available Antibiotics For Treating UTIs

1. Trimethoprim/Sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra)

Trimethoprim

Bactrim and Septra are some of the brand-name drugs that belong to Sulfonamides' antibiotic family. The generic name is Trimethoprim and Sulfamethoxazole. It is a combination of antibiotics used to treat urinary infections. It works by eliminating the bacterial species that cause the infections.

Trimethoprim works as a bacteriostatic antibiotic (limits the growth of bacteria) in combination with Sulfamethoxazole which has bactericidal (bacteria-killing) activity to eliminate infections.
Apart from UTIs, it also treats middle ear infections in children, travellers’ diarrhoea in adults, chronic bronchitis, and certain types of pneumonia.

2. Cephalexin (Keflex)

Ciprofloxacin

Cephalexin is the generic name of the antibiotic. Keflex is the most common brand name for Cephalexin. It belongs to the family of antibiotics called Cephalosporins. This drug is used to treat infections of the kidney and bladder. Keflex can treat UTIs and a wide range of bacterial infections.

Cephalosporins are more resistant to the action of beta-lactamase (enzymes), a type of bacterial defence against antibiotics. Cephalexin inhibits bacterial cell wall production, ultimately leading to its breakdown.

3. Amoxicillin/Clavulanate (Augmentin)

Amoxicillin

Amoxicillin and Clavulanic Acid, commonly known as Amoxiclav, belong to the Penicillin family of antibiotics. The common brand name for the combination is Augmentin. Augmentin is effective on urinary infections.

It is a combination of antibiotics that works by inhibiting beta-lactamase (enzyme) of bacteria and helps in blocking enzymes that often contribute to antibiotic resistance.

It is a combination of antibiotics that works by inhibiting beta-lactamase (enzyme) of bacteria and helps in blocking enzymes that often contribute to antibiotic resistance.

The 2 active ingredients work together to kill bacteria and prevent further growth. It also works on the inner ear and dental infections. It only exhibits mild side effects.

4. Ceftriaxone (Rocephin)

Ceftriaxone

Ceftriaxone is the generic name, and Rocephin is the brand name. It belongs to the family of antibiotics called Cephalosporin, similar to Cephalexin. Rocephin is an antibiotic that a healthcare provider administers in the form of an injection to your muscle.

The doctor recommends Ceftrixone for UTI treatment, and it also treats bacterial intra-abdominal and ear infections. Ceftriaxone works by inhibiting bacterial cell wall formation. It destroys the bonds that hold the bacterial cell wall together. It weakens the bacteria causing the infection, leading the immune cells to kill them quickly.

5. Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)

Fosfomycin

Cipro is a common brand name for Ciprofloxacin. It belongs to the Fluoroquinolones family of antibiotics. Ciprofloxacin treats UTIs and various bacterial infections like respiratory, bone, joint infections, typhoid fever, etc.

The Fluoroquinolones class includes Ciprofloxacin and Levofloxacin. They work by targeting two bacterial enzymes, DNA gyrase and topoisomerase, responsible for coiling and sealing processes of DNA replication. Therefore, these drugs affect bacteria’s growth, causing UTIs and eventually killing them.

6. Fosfomycin (Monurol)

Fosfomycin

Fosfomycin is an antibiotic used to treat uncomplicated urinary tract infections and cystitis (bladder infection). It is also sometimes used for prostate infections in men. It belongs to the Epoxide family of antibiotics. A common brand name is Monurol.

Fosfomycin works on UTIs by inhibiting gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria cell wall synthesis. This inhibits the formation and growth of bacteria, causing the infection.

This medication is given as a single dose and is available in powder form that you need to mix with water before intake.

7. Levofloxacin (Levaquin)

Levofloxacin

Levofloxacin is an antibiotic that is highly effective in treating uncomplicated UTIs. Levaquin is the common brand name. Levofloxacin is included in the family of antibiotics called Fluoroquinolones.

Levaquin works on TUIs by stopping the growth of bacteria that causes the infection. It prevents the reproduction and repair of their DNA. It is a drug that comes in oral tablets or solutions. It also comes in an eye drop form.

8. Nitrofurantoin (Macrobid, Macrodantin, Furandantin)

Nitrofurantoin

Nitrofurantoin is the generic name. It belongs to the Nitrofuran family of antibiotics. The common brand names are Macrobid, Macrodantin, and Furandantin. Nitrofurantoin is a synthetic antibiotic formed with furan and nitro groups and a side-changing hydantoin.

It is active against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. It works by killing the bacteria and preventing their further growth. Nitrofurantoin is the first-line treatment for UTIs. It kills the E. coli pathogens that lead to infections in the urinary tract.

Your antibiotic should start working within 3 to 4 days. However, it may take a week or a bit longer to kill all the offending bacteria and clear your symptoms. Hence, make sure you complete the entire course of your antibiotic regimen. Remember that your doctor should prescribe all antibiotics. You cannot simply buy them over the counter.

 

Which Antibiotic Resolves UTIs The Fastest?

The effectiveness of antibiotics depends on the severity of your infection, symptoms, other medical conditions, etc. Antibiotics work differently for each individual. The minimum length of treatment maybe 2 to 14 days or even more. Nevertheless, here is our recommended choice of antibiotics:

Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)

Cipro is our 1st choice of antibiotics because it works as fast as 3 days. Aside from that, it only needs to be taken once a day.

Trimethoprim/Sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim)

Bactrim is our 2nd recommendation for UTI treatment. It should be taken for at least 3 days, twice a day. Your doctor may recommend taking this medication for longer than 3 days to ensure that the infection is gone.

Nitrofurantoin (Macrobid)

Nitrofurantoin is our 3rd choice. Nitrofurantoin is also effective for treating UTIs, but it needs to be taken longer than Bactrim. It should be taken twice a day for at least 2 to 5 days to treat UTIs and feel better.

Can UTI Antibiotics Make Bacteria Immune?

Bacteria can become immune or resistant to antibiotics while treating UTIs. It starts when they adapt to the specific properties of the antibiotic used. Hence, it becomes harder for the antibiotics to kill the bacteria. This is officially termed antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic resistance usually occurs when antibiotics are used longer and more often than needed. It allows the bacteria to adapt to the antibiotic, weakening its effectiveness.

Frequent illness in the elderly patient, underlying medical conditions, and many other factors can lead to antibiotic resistance. Kidney problems or even severe health conditions can arise as complications of antibiotic resistance.

What Are The Common Side Effects Of Antibiotics While Treating UTIs?

You might experience some of these side effects mentioned below when taking antibiotics:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Fever
  • Headache or light-headedness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Dizziness

How Long Should I Need To Take Antibiotics To Treat A UTI?

Usually, antibiotics work quickly when taken for infections. You may feel better within a few hours. However, it can take 3 to 4 days to treat uncomplicated UTIs. The duration of the treatment for UTIs generally depends on the following factors:

  • The bacteria causing infection
  • The type of drug consumed
  • Other comorbid medical conditions

The course of treatment may extend from 15 days to 1 month, especially for complicated UTIs. Nevertheless, it should only take a few days to notice improvement. Keep in mind to maintain proper hydration and good nutrition while consuming antibiotics.

Why Should I Take The Full Course?

You must complete the entire course of antibiotics to resolve UTIs. Do not stop taking antibiotics even if you start feeling better within a few days. You still need to consume the rest of the medications until the end of the regiment.

If you do not complete the entire course, it may result in high bacterial regrowth, severe side effects, and other complications. Therefore, complete the course prescribed by your doctor to resolve the infection completely.

Can UTI Symptoms Linger After I Take Antibiotics?

In most cases, antibiotics clear the infection and reduce your symptoms once the entire course is done. However, there are some chances that the infection remains despite taking antibiotics. This may be because of the following reasons:

  • Antibiotic resistance
  • UTI from another type of bacteria
  • The wrong kind of antibiotic
  • Underlying condition or comorbidity
  • Complicated cystitis and kidney diseases
  • Sexually transmitted infection

Here are some quick solutions to increase the effectiveness of antibiotics to overcome UTIs:

  • Improve or change your hygiene habits
  • Drink more water and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Consider taking probiotics or dietary supplements

When To Call Your Doctor

Suppose you start noticing red flag symptoms like high fever, chills, lower stomach pain, and vomiting. In that case, you must immediately consult your doctor to evaluate you for a possibility of an infection. After which, any prescribed antibiotics must be taken with full compliance until the end of the regimen.

If you notice the same symptoms or other side effects while taking the antibiotics, you should immediately inform your doctor.

Are There Alternative Ways Of Treating UTIs Along With Antibiotics?

Take Over-The-Counter Medication For The Pain And Urinary Urgency

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) and other medications are available to relieve any pain felt. Aside from that, phenazopyridine is another pain reliever that targets uncomfortable urinary symptoms. These medicines may only give you temporary relief. For permanent relief, take prescribed antibiotics.

Doxycycline for treating UTIs is a medication also known as an antibiotic that tackles bacterial infection in the body (tetracycline). 

Drink Lots Of Water/Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water or extra fluids when consuming antibiotics is highly recommended since it helps flush out the bacteria that cause infection.

Use Probiotics

Probiotics keep your gastrointestinal and urinary tract healthy with good bacteria and free from pathogenic bacteria. It is usually found in dairy products like yoghurt, cheeses, kefir, etc.

People can also take probiotic supplements. These are excellent over-the-counter treatment options for UTIs. It helps in digestion and increases bacterial immunity in your body to prevent infections.

Drink Cranberry Juice

Cranberry juice is a natural remedy for treating UTIs. You can have cranberry juice instead of water for fluid intake for a change. Neither is more effective than the other, but it helps treat UTIs since it contains antioxidants with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Get Enough Vitamin C

Vitamin C works as an antioxidant by protecting your cells against free radicals. It helps improve the immune system in your body. It can also kill other bacteria by forming nitrogen oxide in the urine. Many people have been using Vitamin C to treat and prevent UTIs.

Good Bathroom Hygiene

Urinate as soon as the need arises. Frequent urination can help flush out bacteria from the bladder and urethra. Always remember that after urination, wipe from front to back. This prevents bacteria (usually E. coli) from moving from the anus to the genitals.

Practice Good Sexual Hygiene

Maintain good sexual hygiene to avoid the risk of UTIs. Sexual intercourse can introduce bacteria to the urinary tract. It can affect both males and females.

Here are some tips you can follow to maintain good sexual hygiene:

  • Urinate and wash your genitals before and after sex
  • Use condoms and change them each time

Conclusion

UTIs are common infections of the body. Bacteria usually cause them. UTIs can be treated using antibiotics. These are drugs that kill the offending bacteria and stop their further growth. These medications may take a while to work, but they generally reduce the pain and clear all the symptoms. You should complete your entire course of medication to see its full effects. Aside from that, take proper precautions when consuming it.

If your condition did not improve after a few days of taking antibiotics or if there are adverse side effects, you must contact your doctor immediately. Remember that antibiotics are prescribed medication. You cannot simply buy them on your own without a prescription. Some natural remedies are also available to help treat and prevent UTIs.

Why
UTIs are more common in women than men because women have shorter urethras than men. Thus, pathogenic bacteria have a shorter distance to travel to reach the urinary bladder.
How
Carbapenem antibiotics are the first-line treatment for ESBL-UTI.
How
Your child may have a UTI if they experience symptoms like pain, burning, or a stinging smell when urinating. Consult your doctor immediately when these symptoms occur.
What
Similar to adults, children need to take antibiotics to treat their UTIs. You can consult your doctor and take the prescribed medication for the bacterial infection.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Why do women get UTIs more often than men?
UTIs are more common in women than men because women have shorter urethras than men. Thus, pathogenic bacteria have a shorter distance to travel to reach the urinary bladder.

How do you treat UTIs caused by ESBL-producing bacteria?
Carbapenem antibiotics are the first-line treatment for ESBL-UTI.

How do I determine if my child has a UTI?
Your child may have a UTI if they experience symptoms like pain, burning, or a stinging smell when urinating. Consult your doctor immediately when these symptoms occur.

What is the treatment of UTI in a child?
Similar to adults, children need to take antibiotics to treat their UTIs. You can consult your doctor and take the prescribed medication for the bacterial infection.

References