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Can I Get Over the Counter UTI Medicine?
March 16, 2023|Read Time - 6 minutes
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Last updated on April 4th, 2024

Understanding over-the-counter and prescription UTI treatment options

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the second most common infection in the body, with nearly 20% of women experiencing one at some point. They aren’t just very common; they are also very painful.

Over-the-counter (OTC) UTI medication can help you manage UTI symptoms, but it will not cure the condition. Prescription medication is needed to make a UTI go away quickly. However, you can certainly use OTC and at-home treatment methods to help yourself feel better right away while helping yourself prevent infections in the future.

Can You Treat a UTI With Over-the-Counter Meds?


Several OTC treatment options can relieve your symptoms, but you need prescription antibiotic medication to cure a UTI.

Prescription antibiotics are the fastest way to treat a UTI. You will start to feel better within a day or two of starting treatment. These drugs eliminate the bacteria from the body and prevent the infection from returning. So, you are not only treating the condition but protecting yourself in the future.

What’s the Best Over-the-Counter Urinary Tract Infection Treatment?


OTC medications can help relieve painful UTI symptoms. However, prescription-strength antibiotics are needed to get rid of a UTI quickly and for good.

OTC medicine for pain relief
Standard pain-relief options include:
  1. Phenazopyridine (generic for Azo Urinary Pain Relief and Pyridium): The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved phenazopyridine to help relieve UTI pain when you urinate. Azo and Pyridium-which feature phenazopyridine as an active ingredient-are urinary pain relief tablets that work within 20 minutes and can be taken multiple times daily to help reduce uncomfortable symptoms. This drug can discolor your urine and stain your clothes.

  2. Cystex: Cystex is a brand–name medication that contains methenamine and sodium salicylate. Like phenazopyridine, Cystex helps minimize painful symptoms caused by a UTI. It does not cure an existing infection but can help manage the burning sensation during urination.

  3. Acetaminophen/ ibuprofen: These general pain relievers reduce inflammation and pain. They can also treat the cramping and burning symptoms of a UTI.

If you are already taking an antibiotic for a UTI, talk to a healthcare provider before starting to use any OTC pain-relieving medications. Certain drugs can interact in the body, causing potentially serious side effects.

Home remedies for UTI prevention

Little medical evidence shows supplements and home remedies can protect you against UTIs. However, some people have found the following home remedies helpful.

Common home remedies used to prevent UTIs include:
  1. Cranberry juice: Cranberry juice and cranberry products are widely believed to help prevent recurrent UTIs. This claim, however, is not backed up by evidence. Drinking extra fluids helps reduce UTI symptoms, and doctors often order it along with antibiotic treatment. In other words, cranberry juice does not help UTI symptoms, but drinking more fluids can offer additional help while taking antibiotics.

  2. Probiotics: Probiotics are live yeast and bacteria supplements naturally occurring in our digestive tract. While these supplements will not help cure a UTI, they may help with digestion and overall wellness.

  3. D-mannose powder: There is some evidence that D-mannose powder can help prevent UTIs. D-mannose is a sugar found in the human body, along with several types of fruit. You can buy D-mannose in the supplement aisle of the supermarket or some health food stores. More research is needed to determine whether or not D-mannose is effective at preventing UTIs.

Again, it’s important to get medical advice from a healthcare provider before using any OTC or home remedies to treat a UTI, especially if you are already taking an antibiotic medication.

What is the Best UTI Treatment?


Prescription antibacterial medication (antibiotics) is the best way to cure a urinary tract infection.

A UTI is a bacterial infection usually caused by the E. coli bacterium. Bacterial infections rarely go away on their own and can cause severe problems if left untreated.

If left untreated, a UTI can lead to:

  • Recurrent UTIs
  • Permanent kidney damage from a kidney infection
  • Pregnancy problems (like low birth weight and premature birth)
  • Sepsis (a potentially life-threatening medical emergency)

These complications make it all the more vital to get medical care from a healthcare provider. You need a prescription from a provider to get the best medical treatment for UTIs.

Standard antibiotic treatment options for UTIs include:

Antibiotics have been shown to cause some mild side effects. These include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin rash

Talk to a healthcare professional if these symptoms become severe or your UTI doesn’t start feeling better after a few days of antibiotic treatment.

Can I Get UTI Treatment Without Seeing a Doctor?


If you are dealing with a UTI and want medical care without going to a doctor’s office, telehealth platforms can connect you to a provider without leaving your home. Telehealth appointments are the quickest and most affordable way to get antibiotics without seeing a doctor.

During your visit, you’ll discuss your symptoms and health history. If you have taken a UTI test, the provider may ask you to share your results. Most telehealth platforms allow providers to write prescriptions if appropriate. If your provider determines that you have a UTI, they can order medication to be picked up at your local pharmacy.

How Do I Know If I Have a UTI?


Not all UTIs cause symptoms, but most do.

The signs and symptoms of an uncomplicated UTI include:

  • A strong and persistent urge to urinate
  • A burning sensation while urinating
  • Peeing in small amounts but frequently
  • Cloudy or hazy urine
  • If your urine is scarlet, bright pink, or cola-colored, this indicates that there is blood in it
  • Strong smelling urine
  • Pressure or cramping in the groin or lower abdomen

If the infection has spread to the ureters or kidneys (a condition known as a “complicated UTI”), you may experience back pain or side pain. You may also get a fever with chills, nausea, and vomiting. Complicated UTIs increase your risk of kidney damage and sepsis. Because of this, you need to seek immediate medical care if you experience the signs of a UTI along with these symptoms.

When to see a doctor

You should see a healthcare provider when you notice the early signs of a UTI, even mild ones. Getting tested for a UTI right away will reduce your risk of complications.

Providers use urinalysis tests to diagnose UTIs. These UTI tests check for certain substances in the urine that indicate infection. They are commonly performed at a doctor’s office or urgent care clinic. You can also buy UTI test strips to test yourself at home.

At-home UTI tests are accurate. However, you will still likely need to take a urinalysis test at a medical center to diagnose your infection. This is required to get the prescription for antibiotic treatment.

How Sesame Can Help


If you’re experiencing the signs of a UTI, book an online doctor’s appointment on Sesame to speak to a provider quickly. Providers on Sesame can offer medical advice and prescribe antibiotic medication if appropriate. Don’t wait to get treatment. Book a visit on Sesame so you can start feeling better fast.


Sources:

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