Can a UTI Go Away on Its Own?

5106
Jessica Guht
Categorized as UTI

UTIs are common enough that, when we feel them coming, we wonder if we can avoid going to the doctor and just wait them out. 

The answer to this, though, is a bit complicated. Some UTIs will clear up on their own, but others may develop into something more serious. So, just how long will it take a UTI to go away on its own, and when should you visit a doctor? Continue reading to find out.

What Is A UTI?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) results from the infiltration of bacteria into the urethra, where it can then travel through the urinary tract. From there, it can infect any aspect of the urinary tract, including the urethra, ureter, or, most commonly, the bladder. In severe cases, the bacteria could infect your kidneys.

The bacteria that is most often the culprit of UTIs is E. coli.

Those with a UTI often experience uncomfortable symptoms such as:

  • feeling as though you need to urinate frequently
  • pain or burning when you do urinate
  • abdominal cramping or pain
  • blood in the urine

How Long Do UTIs Last?

With antibiotics, a UTI often clears up within a few days. However, it is crucial to continue the course of antibiotics for its complete duration to ensure that the infection is fully treated. 

Stopping your antibiotics early can also increase the risk of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which makes infections more challenging to treat. So, even if your symptoms go away, be sure to finish out your antibiotic.

Can A UTI Go Away on Its Own?

While antibiotics are most often used to treat a UTI, it is possible for them to go away on their own.

In fact, studies suggest that 25% to 42% of UTIs go away without treatment.

Some signs that your UTI is going away on its own include a reduction in symptoms, primarily no more pain or burning when urinating.

How Long Does It Take A UTI To Go Away?

If you are not taking antibiotics, a UTI will typically take anywhere from three to seven days to go away on its own.

However, if your UTI lasts longer than a week or the symptoms get worse, this may be a sign that the infection is becoming more severe.

What Happens If You Don’t Treat A UTI?

If a UTI is left untreated, the bacteria causing it may continue traveling up the urinary tract until they come into contact with the kidneys. This can then cause a kidney infection, which is a more severe condition because the bacteria can enter and travel through the bloodstream, which can lead to sepsis. Those with sepsis become very ill and can enter a critical state.

Symptoms of a kidney infection include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • lower back pain
  • body chills

If you develop any of these symptoms, it is crucial to seek urgent care services.

Can You Get Rid of A UTI Without Antibiotics?

While some UTIs may go away on their own, without antibiotics, others can instead get worse.

Because of this, choosing to forego antibiotics for a UTI can be a gamble regarding what the outcome may be.

For mild UTIs, home remedies and time may be all that is needed to fight the infection. However, more severe cases, or those that last longer than a week, often require antibiotics.

How Can You Treat A UTI Without Antibiotics?

In most cases, it is only recommended to avoid antibiotic treatment for UTIs if the symptoms are mild. However, if the below home remedies have not helped with your symptoms after a day, or if your symptoms worsen, it is recommended to visit a doctor for a prescription.

Drinking Water

Drinking plenty of water helps to flush out the bacteria from your urinary tract, which can help as your body fights the infection.

Don’t Hold Your Pee

In addition to drinking more water, it is also important to urinate whenever you feel the need to. This is because holding in your pee increases the amount of time that bacteria in the urine can attach to the cells in your urinary tract. By urinating whenever the urge appears, you can help to treat UTIs.

Cranberry Products

Cranberry juice and cranberry extract contain compounds that may help prevent bacteria from sticking to the lining of your bladder. This makes them more helpful for preventing a UTI, but they may also help your body as it fights the infection and clears it out of the body.

Try Probiotics

Probiotics help to increase the amount of good bacteria in your body, which can help fight the harmful bacteria causing your UTI.

Probiotics also produce hydrogen peroxide in urine, which is a potent antibacterial agent. This may also help to fight a UTI.

Take Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that supports immune function, helping your body fight infections.

With UTIs, vitamin C reacts with the nitrates in urine to form nitrogen oxides. These compounds then lower the pH of urine to a level that bacteria are less likely to survive in.

Despite these observations, little research has been completed to confirm whether vitamin C helps treat UTIs.

However, a small 2016 study did find that a combination of vitamin C, cranberry supplements, and probiotics may help treat recurrent UTIs.

When To See a Doctor

If you are experiencing any symptoms of a urinary tract infection, it is recommended to seek medical advice from a doctor. They can help you determine the type of UTI you have, its severity, and what type of treatment is best.

If you are interested in pursuing treatments other than antibiotics, or in addition to antibiotics, your doctor can also discuss the safety and effectiveness of these treatments. 

Get Help from An Online Doctor

If you think you have a UTI, an online doctor is a great resource to discuss your treatment options. With DrHouse, you can meet with a doctor in just 15 minutes, and your doctor can virtually prescribe any necessary antibiotics.

Key Takeaways

UTIs are unpleasant conditions that can cause painful urination, frequent needs to urinate, and blood in your urine. While UTIs are most commonly treated with antibiotics, in some cases, antibiotics may not be needed to clear the infection.

However, an untreated UTI may evolve into a kidney infection or sepsis, which are much more severe conditions. Because of this, it is often recommended to discuss all UTIs with a doctor to determine what treatment you should follow.

There are home remedies that may help treat a UTI, although they are often most effective when taken with an antibiotic. For those with a UTI, an online doctor is a convenient way to receive an antibiotic, no matter where you are.

Sources

  • Bergamin, P., & Kiosoglous, A. (2017). Non-surgical management of recurrent urinary tract infections in women. Translational Andrology And Urology, 6(S2), S142-S152. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.21037/tau.2017.06.09 
  • Bono MJ, Leslie SW, Reygaert WC. Urinary Tract Infection. [Updated 2022 Jun 15]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470195/ 
  • Gupta, V., Nag, D., & Garg, P. (2017). Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections in Women: How Promising is the Use of Probiotics?. Indian Journal Of Medical Microbiology, 35(3), 347-354. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.4103/ijmm.ijmm_16_292 
  • Montorsi, F., Gandaglia, G., Salonia, A., Briganti, A., & Mirone, V. (2016). Effectiveness of a Combination of Cranberries, Lactobacillus rhamnosus , and Vitamin C for the Management of Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections in Women: Results of a Pilot Study. European Urology, 70(6), 912-915. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1016/j.eururo.2016.05.042 
  • Klein, R., & Hultgren, S. (2020). Urinary tract infections: microbial pathogenesis, host–pathogen interactions and new treatment strategies. Nature Reviews Microbiology, 18(4), 211-226. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1038/s41579-020-0324-0 
  • Medina, M., & Castillo-Pino, E. (2019). An introduction to the epidemiology and burden of urinary tract infections. Therapeutic Advances In Urology, 11, 175628721983217. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1177/1756287219832172 

DrHouse articles are written by MDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. The contents of the DrHouse site are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.

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