Urinary Tract Infection: At-Home Remedies for UTI Symptoms

Medically Reviewed By Cynthia Taylor Chavoustie, MPAS, PA-C
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Home remedies for UTIs, urinary tract infections, can help relieve symptoms. However, prescription antibiotics may be necessary to cure some UTIs. Here’s what to know, what you can do at home, and when to see a doctor about a UTI.

Sex and gender exist on a spectrum. This article uses the terms “female” and “male” to refer to the sex assigned at birth. 

Learn more about the difference between sex and gender here.

What is a UTI (urinary tract infection)?

Person applying heat therapy
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A urinary tract infection develops when harmful bacteria enter your urethra, the duct that urine passes through on the way out of your body. The infection usually develops in your bladder, introduced by bacteria in the vagina, rectum, or another genital area.

UTIs are more common in females than males because the urethra is closer to the rectum in females, making it easier for bacteria to be transferred from one to the other.

What are the symptoms of a UTI?

Typical symptoms of a UTI include:

  • a burning sensation when you pee
  • frequent urination
  • feeling the need to urinate when your bladder is empty
  • a feeling of pressure in the lower abdomen or groin

When should you contact a doctor for UTI symptoms?

If you have UTI symptoms, call your doctor even if they go away after a few days. Though you might be able to alleviate the symptoms at home, you may need prescription antibiotics to fully cure the infection.

A doctor can prescribe antibiotics to fight the infection by killing the bacteria that is causing the infection. Without an antibiotic, the infection can spread and become severe. A UTI rarely requires treatment in a hospital.

Here are other at-home suggestions to treat and prevent UTIs from reoccurring.

Drink plenty of fluids

A long-held belief is that drinking plenty of water can flush the UTI out of your body, but this is doubtful. While drinking plenty of water may help relieve some symptoms, antibiotics are often necessary to kill the bacteria causing the infection. Drinking plenty of fluids can also help prevent UTIs from reoccurring.

Some evidence suggests drinking cranberry juice may help prevent UTIs from reoccurring in some people. This research found that drinking 8–10 ounces (240–300 mL) per day may be effective.

Avoid food and drink that can irritate your bladder

If you have a UTI or are prone to develop them, consider avoiding foods and liquids that could irritate your bladder. Some of the more common culprits are:

  • coffee and tea
  • carbonated drinks
  • alcohol
  • acidic fruits and juices such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes
  • spicy food
  • tomatoes
  • chocolate

Try over-the-counter (OTC) medications

Some OTC medications can help alleviate symptoms, including:

  • Phenazopyridine relieves pain, burning, irritation, and the urgent and frequent need to urinate.
  • Methenamine and sodium salicylate, a combination medication, can relieve pain, burning, and the need to urinate. Methenamine may help slow bacteria growth. Sodium salicylate is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that can relieve pain.
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) can help relieve pain.

Try heat therapy

A heating pad or other warm compress applied to your lower abdomen may help relieve pain. Keep the heating pad on a low setting and leave it on for no more than 15 minutes at a time.

The warmth feels soothing and may help ease the cramping and spasms of a UTI.

Follow your doctor’s recommendations

UTIs are very common, especially in females, though males can get them, too. If you notice symptoms of a UTI, contact your doctor to see whether you need an antibiotic.

Take the course of antibiotics as prescribed, even though you might feel better in a day or two. This will make it less likely that the bacteria will regrow and reinfect.

Summary

UTIs are infections of the urinary tract that cause a burning sensation when you urinate and an urgent feeling of needing to go, even when your bladder is empty. Some home care steps can relieve symptoms, but medical treatment may be necessary to cure the infection.

If you have symptoms of a UTI, it is important to contact your doctor. Your doctor can determine what bacteria are causing your infection and prescribe the appropriate antibiotic medication. Make sure you take all the medication as prescribed, even if your symptoms go away.

If you have frequent UTIs, talk with your doctor about adjusting your diet to eat fewer foods that could irritate your bladder and make it more vulnerable to infection.

For more details about urinary tract infections.

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Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Taylor Chavoustie, MPAS, PA-C
Last Review Date: 2022 Oct 27
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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  6. Urinary tract infections. (n.d.). https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/health-and-wellness/urinary-tract-infections-utis