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Urinary Tract Infection Treatment

Treating Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections

Four out of five women who have had three urinary tract infections will develop another one within 18 months of their last urinary tract infection. Women who have frequent recurrences (three or more a year) should talk to their doctor about the following treatment options for chronic urinary tract infections:
  • Daily low doses of an antibiotic, such as trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (TMP/SMZ) or nitrofurantoin, for six months or longer. If taken at bedtime, the drug remains in the bladder longer and may be more effective. Research has shown this therapy to be effective without causing serious side effects.
  • Single dose of an antibiotic after sexual intercourse.
  • A short course (one or two days) of antibiotics when symptoms appear.
Women who have chronic urinary tract infections may also use a dipstick that changes color when an infection is present. Dipsticks are now available without a prescription. The strip can detect nitrite, which is formed when bacteria change nitrate in the urine to nitrite. This test can detect about 90 percent of urinary tract infections when used with the first morning urine specimen and may be useful for women who have chronic urinary tract infections.
In order to avoid urinary tract infections, people should:
  • Drink plenty of water every day
  • Urinate when needed and not resist the urge to urinate
  • Wipe from front to back to prevent bacteria around the anus from entering the vagina or urethra
  • Take showers instead of baths
  • Cleanse the genital area before sexual intercourse
  • Avoid using feminine hygiene sprays and scented douches, which may irritate the urethra
  • Drink cranberry juice.
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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