UTI Medicine: 9 Prescription Medications (& Home Remedies)

UTI medicine, such as nitrofurantoin, fosfomycin or ciprofloxacin, helps to eliminate the bacteria causing infection and relieve symptoms such as pain or burning when urinating, the urge to urinate frequently or a feeling of heaviness in the bladder.

UTIs (urinary tract infections) are typically caused by intestinal bacteria, particularly Escherichia coli, that reach the urinary system. Infections are more common in women due to the close proximity between the urethra and the anus. Complete our online UTI symptoms quiz to determine whether your symptoms are related to an infection.

In addition to the remedies prescribed by your doctor, some home remedies can help alleviate symptoms and complement medical treatment, such as cranberry juice or bearberry syrup. These have natural diuretic and anti-inflammatory action, helping to alleviate symptoms of urinary infection and speed-up recovery. Check-out a list of teas for UTIs that you can prepare at home.

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Pharmacy medications

The main UTI medicines that your doctor can prescribe to treat a UTI include:

1. Fosfomycin

Fosfomycin, or fosfomycin trometamol, is an antibiotic prescribed for the short-term treatment of urinary infections caused by bacteria. It is indicated for the treatment of cystitis, urethrovesical syndrome or urethritis, for example.

This remedy works by eliminating bacteria, such as E.coli, Proteus, Klebsiella, Enterobacter, Pseudomonas or Staphylococcus.

The normally recommended dose of fosfomycin is 1 sachet taken as a single dose, or 1 sachet every 24 hours, for 2 days. It should be taken on an empty stomach and bladder, preferably at night, before going to bed.

Fosfomycin should not be taken by children under 12 years of age or by people who are undergoing hemodialysis, nor by those with severe kidney failure. During pregnancy it should only be used if recommended by the obstetrician.

2. Nitrofurantoin

Nitrofurantoin is another antibiotic indicated for the treatment of acute or chronic urinary infections, such as cystitis or pyelonephritis, for example.

This medicine is available with a prescription at the pharmacy in the form of 100 mg capsules.

The normally recommended dose of nitrofurantoin for adults is one 100 mg capsule every 6 hours, for 7 to 10 days. It should be taken after meals to prevent gastrointestinal side effects. For long-term treatment, the dose can be reduced by the doctor.

Nitrofurantoin should not be taken by children under 1 month of age, in the last weeks of pregnancy (38-42 weeks), during breastfeeding and in some cases of kidney failure.

3. Ciprofloxacin

Ciprofloxacin, or ciprofloxacin hydrochloride, is a broad-spectrum antibiotic from the fluoroquinolone class that is indicated for the treatment of bacterial urinary infections, such as cystitis, gonococcal urethritis or acute pyelonephritis.

This medicine is available in the form of 500 mg tablets and available with a medical prescription.

Ciprofloxacin should be taken orally, with a glass of water, before or after a meal, and the normally recommended dose varies according to the type of urinary infection. Find out how to take and dosage of ciprofloxacin.

Ciprofloxacin should not be taken by children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, or people with a history of tendon problems caused by the use of fluoroquinolones, nor by those with myasthenia gravis.

Another antibiotic from the fluoroquinolone class that may be prescribed by your doctor is levofloxacin. 

4. Sulfamethoxazole + trimethoprim

Sulfamethoxazole + trimethoprim is another antibiotic that may be prescribed by a doctor for the treatment of urinary infections, such as acute and chronic cystitis, pyelonephritis, urethritis or prostatitis.

This medicine is found in the form of tablets or oral suspension.

The recommended doses of sulfamethoxazole + trimethoprim for adults vary according to the amount of substances present in the tablet or oral suspension, and must be indicated by the doctor. See how to take sulfamethoxazole + trimethoprim.

Sulfamethoxazole + trimethoprim should not be used by newborns under 6 weeks of age, pregnant or breastfeeding womenm nor by people with liver or kidney disease, anemia or being treated with warfarin or dofetilide.

5. Cephalexin

Cephalexin is an antibiotic from the cephalosporin class indicated for the treatment of urinary infections caused by bacteria, such as urethritis, cystitis, pyelitis, adnexitis or prostatitis.

This medicine is found in the form of tablets, capsules or oral suspension. It should not be used by people allergic to cephalosporins or penicillins. During pregnancy, it should only be taken if recommended by the obstetrician.

Dosing for cephalexin must be indicated by the doctor, as doses vary with age and the type of urinary infection. Find out how to take cephalexin.

Another antibiotic from the cephalosporin class that may be recommended by a doctor for severe urinary tract infections is ceftriaxone, administered IV in a hospital setting.

6. Scopolamine

Scopolamine, or scopolamine butylbromide, is an antispasmodic indicated to relieve muscle contractions and urinary tract spasms that cause pain and discomfort when urinating.

This medicine has a strong analgesic action which relieves pain caused by urinary infections.

Scopolamine should not be used by children who have acute or persistent diarrhea, pregnant or breastfeeding women, or by people who have myasthenia gravis, dilation or narrowing of the intestine, or who are allergic to scopolamine, dipyrone or any other component in its formula.

7. Flavoxate

Flavoxate is an antispasmodic indicated to relieve pain and urgency to urinate that is related to urinary infections such as cystitis, prostatitis, urethritis, urethrocystitis or urethrotrigonitis..

Flavoxate is contraindicated for children under 12 years of age, pregnant or breastfeeding women, or people who have glaucoma, rare hereditary problems of galactose intolerance, lactose deficiency or glucose-galactose malabsorption.

8. Methenamine

Methenamine is a urinary tract antiseptic, which can also help symptoms such as burning or pain when urinating.

This medicine helps prevent the infection from worsening and reaching the kidneys or bladder, as it also has antibacterial action, which helps eliminate bacteria from the urinary tract and prevent recurring infections. 

Methenamine should not be used by children under 12 years of age, pregnant or breastfeeding women, or by people with liver disease, methemoglobinemia, kidney disorders or diabetes.

9. Cranberry

Cranberry, also known as cranberry, is a supplement that acts by preventing bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract, and promoting the balance of beneficial intestinal microflora. Imbalances can lead to unstable environments that promote that development of UTIs, therefore this supplement can be taken to prevent flare-ups or complement treatment. 

Home remedies for UTI

A home solution to alleviate the symptoms of urinary tract infections is to drink cranberry juice, bearberry syrup or goldenrod tea, for example. Find out how to prepare these natural remedies.

Furthermore, diuretic foods such as onion, parsley, watermelon, asparagus, soursop, cucumber, orange or carrot are also great complements to the treatment of the infection, as they help to eliminate urine, contributing to the elimination of bacteria.

It is important to note that home remedies do not replace urinary infection treatment recommended by a doctor, but they can be used to complement treatment and help alleviate symptoms more quickly.

Check-out a list of home remedies for UTIs that you can prepare at home.

Medicine for children and pregnant women

Treatment approaches for children and pregnant will vary slightly, and medications can be different.

UTI in children

In children, treatment is usually completed with antibiotics, but in syrup form. Treatment should be completed at indicated by a pediatrician, as the recommended dose can vary according to the child's age, weight, symptoms, severity of infection and the type of bacteria causing infection.

UTI during pregnancy

Medication for treating a urinary infection in pregnant women should be indicated by the obstetrician and should be used with caution so that the baby is not harmed. The antibiotics that are prescribed for a urinary infection during pregnancy are usually penicillins or cephalosporins.

How to prevent recurrent UTIs

Many women experience urinary infections several times a year, and in these cases, preventative treatmnet is required to avoid reinfection. This is done with a low dose of antibiotics taken every day for about 6 months. The doctor can also advise you to take a single dose of antibiotics after sex, should reinfection be related to sexual contact.

To prevent recurrent UTIs, you can also opt to take natural remedies over a long period of time, or immunotherapy.

In addition to medications and natural remedies, during treatment of a UTI, you should not take other medication without the doctor's knowledge, and you should drink about 1.5 to 2 L of water (about 8 to 12 cups of water) per day to help eliminate the bacteria.