Does Doxycycline Treat a UTI?

UTIs are unpleasant infections of the urinary tract that can result from a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. When bacteria are the cause, which is most often the case, the UTI can be treated with antibiotics.

Many different types of antibiotics are effective at treating UTIs, with a second-line treatment option being doxycycline. When other antibiotics are not working, or when multiple pathogens are causing the infection, doxycycline is a promising treatment to finally clear the infection.

What Is A UTI?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) results from bacteria entering the urethra and traveling through the urinary tract. The bacteria can then infect the urethra, ureters, or, most commonly, the bladder. If the infection becomes more severe, the bacteria may travel to and infect the kidneys.

What Is Doxycycline?

Doxycycline is an antibiotic used for treating infections of certain types of bacteria. It belongs to the tetracycline antibiotics class of medications and treats infections by preventing the growth of bacteria. 

Doxycycline can also treat rosacea by helping to decrease the inflammation causing the condition.

Is Doxycycline an Effective Antibiotic for Treating UTIs?

Doxycycline is used to successfully treat many different bacterial infections, including UTIs. It works by interfering with the bacteria’s ability to produce proteins needed to survive and reproduce.

Multiple studies have shown the effectiveness of doxycycline in treating UTIs. For example, a case study on a 70-year-old male patient with a history of recurrent UTIs chronicled his treatment, which finally succeeded with doxycycline. 

The patient was diagnosed with a UTI and initially treated with ciprofloxacin, which is one of the more potent antibiotics used to treat UTIs. Unfortunately, this also comes with some potential side effects that are more severe.

Despite treatment with ciprofloxacin, the patient’s symptoms persisted two days after treatment, so the doctors then transitioned him to amoxicillin/clavulanate. The following day, though, the patient’s urine culture came back positive for E. coli and MDR, ESBL-positive K pneumoniae infection. With this, the patient was prescribed doxycycline, and his symptoms improved.

Doxycycline is often a second-line treatment depending on the type of bacteria causing the UTI. It is especially effective for complicated UTIs with multiple pathogens because it has a broad spectrum of activity and low toxicity despite its ability to achieve high concentrations in the urine.

However, if the cause of the UTI is viral, doxycycline will not be effective in treating it.

What Are the Potential Side Effects of Doxycycline?

Like other antibiotics, there are some potential side effects, with the most common being stomach upset with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Additional side effects of doxycycline include:

  • itching of the rectum
  • loss of appetite
  • sore throat or nose
  • swelling, burning, redness, irritation, or itching of the vagina
  • swollen tongue
  • vaginal discharge
  • back pain
  • painful or difficult urination
  • anxiety
  • changes in the colors of your scars, skin, eyes, nails, or mouth

What Other Medication Is Used for Treating UTIs?

The three most common antibiotics prescribed for a UTI include nitrofurantoin, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, and Fosfomycin. Fosfomycin, in particular, is especially effective on bacteria that are resistant to other antibiotics.

Nitrofurantoin is specifically used to treat UTIs and very little else because it is only effective in urine. Similar to doxycycline, it stops UTIs by preventing the bacteria from making the DNA and proteins needed to survive.

Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (TMP/SMX) is a combination medication that blocks two crucial steps in the bacteria’s protein creation process. However, Bactrim, which is a brand name for TMP/SMX, may not be as effective against some antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and many people are allergic to it.

When To See a Doctor?

Since UTIs can develop into kidney infections, which are more severe conditions, it is crucial to see a doctor as soon as you notice any symptoms. Additionally, if your doctor has prescribed antibiotics, but your symptoms have not gone away within a few days, it is recommended to talk to your doctor again, as they may decide to put you on a different antibiotic.

For those who take doxycycline, it may cause some serious side effects, such as:

  • headache
  • rash that occurs with swollen glands or fever
  • seeing double, blurred vision, or loss of vision
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • skin redness, blistering, or peeling
  • hives
  • joint pain
  • unusual bruising or bleeding
  • swelling of the face, eyes, throat, lips, or tongue
  • stomach cramps, watery or bloody stools, or fever

It is important to talk to your doctor immediately if you develop any of these symptoms.

Get Help from An Online Doctor

For those with a UTI, an online doctor is a great resource for obtaining the antibiotics you need to treat your infection. With DrHouse, you can meet with an online doctor in just 15 minutes to receive a prescription without having to leave your house. DrHouse allows you to start feeling better faster without waiting all day for an appointment.

Key Takeaways

UTIs are infections of the urinary tract that most often settle in the bladder. Most UTIs are caused by bacteria, which makes antibiotics a very common treatment. One type of antibiotic that has shown success in treating UTIs is doxycycline. It is typically used as a second-line treatment when other antibiotics have been unable to treat the infection and is especially effective in cases of multiple pathogens.

Like all antibiotics, doxycycline has some side effects, with stomach upset the most common. There are also some more severe side effects, though, and it is essential to seek medical attention or speak to a doctor if any of these more serious symptoms appear.

For those with a UTI, an online doctor is an excellent way to obtain an antibiotic prescription without leaving your house. If you are on an antibiotic, but your UTI symptoms linger past a few days, discuss this with your doctor, as they may wish to switch you to a different antibiotic, such as doxycycline.

Sources

  • Doxycycline: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (2022). Retrieved 27 August 2022, from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682063.html 
  • National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Committee to Review Long-Term Health Effects of Antimalarial Drugs; Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice; Styka AN, Savitz DA, editors. Assessment of Long-Term Health Effects of Antimalarial Drugs When Used for Prophylaxis. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2020 Feb 25. 7, Doxycycline. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK556599/ 
  • Cunha, B. (2012). Oral doxycycline for non-systemic urinary tract infections (UTIs) due to P. aeruginosa and other Gram negative uropathogens. European Journal Of Clinical Microbiology &Amp; Infectious Diseases, 31(11), 2865-2868. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1007/s10096-012-1680-0 
  • White, C., Jodlowski, T., Atkins, D., & Holland, N. (2016). Successful Doxycycline Therapy in a Patient With Escherichia coli and Multidrug-Resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae Urinary Tract Infection. Journal Of Pharmacy Practice, 30(4), 464-467. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1177/0897190016642362 
  • Jodlowski, T., Ashby, C., & Nath, S. (2020). Doxycycline for ESBL-E Cystitis. Clinical Infectious Diseases. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa1898 
  • Flores-Mireles, A., Walker, J., Caparon, M., & Hultgren, S. (2015). Urinary tract infections: epidemiology, mechanisms of infection and treatment options. Nature Reviews Microbiology, 13(5), 269-284. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1038/nrmicro3432 

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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