A urinary tract infection, also known as UTI, affects the kidneys and the bladder causing infection and a variety of unpleasant symptoms.
But how long does a UTI last? Urinary tract infections that are treated with antibiotics can clear within five days. However, an untreated UTI can linger for much longer.
In this quick guide, we take a closer look at the symptoms of UTIs, how long they can last, and the signs that your urinary tract infection is clearing.
Table of Contents
- What Is a UTI?
- Causes of UTIs
- How Long Does a UTI Last?
- How Long Does an Untreated UTI Last?
- Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections
- Treatment of UTIs
- Can a Urinary Tract Infection Go Away On Its Own?
- Is It Safe to Treat UTIs Without Antibiotics?
- Signs Your UTI Is Going Away
- How Can DrHouse Help You?
What Is a UTI?
Urinary tract infections, also commonly called UTIs, are common infections that impact the kidneys, the bladder and the tubes between these two organs.
Anyone can get a UTI but it is more common in women. Women also experience recurrent UTIs.
A urinary tract infection is uncomfortable and painful. It can persist for weeks if left untreated.
Causes of UTIs
A UTI occurs when the urinary tract, including the bladder, urethra and kidneys, become infected by bacteria. These bacteria typically travel from the urinary tract up toward the kidneys.
People may experience an increased UTI risk when they have kidney stones, a weak immune system, a urinary catheter or diabetes.
Women with a contraceptive diaphragm are also at a greater risk of urinary tract infections.
How Long Does a UTI Last?
A urinary tract infection can clear within 3 to 5 days after you start treatment. The symptoms normally pass quickly with the right medication.
It is important to finish the full course of antibiotics that your doctor prescribed, even if you feel as if all your symptoms are gone already.
This will ensure that your urinary tract infection is fully cleared and it also improves the chances that your UTI won’t return.
You can aid your recovery by drinking plenty of fluids, eating probiotics and ensuring that you follow a strict hygiene regime.
How Long Does an Untreated UTI Last?
An untreated urinary tract infection can last for up to six weeks or longer. As the bacteria that causes the UTI persists, this allows the infection to spread to the kidneys.
This could lead to a complicated UTI which carries serious health risks. For example, a quarter of people with an untreated UTI experience sepsis in the urogenital tract.
In addition, 2% of women with untreated UTIs also show symptoms of kidney infections. If a kidney infection is left untreated, then this could result in kidney failure that affects the entire body.
That’s why it is essential to treat a urinary tract infection as early as possible. This prevents the spread of the bacteria to other organs.
Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections
There are a variety of symptoms that occur with a urinary tract infection. Here are the specific signs and symptoms for lower and upper UTIs.
Symptoms of Lower UTIs
Lower urinary tract infections affect the bladder and the urethra. While untreated lower UTIs may clear within a few weeks, they can also lead to an upper urinary tract infection that is more serious.
Lower UTIs can cause:
- Discomfort or pain when urinating
- More frequent urination
- Sudden desire to urinate
- Pain in your lower abdomen
- Inability to empty your bladder fully
- Cloudy and smelly urine
- Urine that contains blood
- Aches and fatigue
Symptoms of Upper UTIs
Upper urinary tract infections affect the ureters and kidneys. These types of infections have similar symptoms to lower UTIs but they can also cause:
- Restlessness and agitation
- Feeling sick
- Chills and shivers
- Pain in your back or sides
- A fever
An upper urinary tract infection that is left untreated can damage the kidneys and lead to sepsis. In severe cases, this could result in death.
Treatment of UTIs
Urinary tract infections are typically treated with a short course antibiotics. People with a lower UTI and light symptoms only need a 3-day court of antibiotics.
On the other hand, pregnant women and people who experience more severe symptoms likely need a longer course to clear the infection fully.
It is important to keep in mind that only over-the-counter medication does not help pass a UTI. However, you can combine antibiotics with pain relief medication to help ease aches and pains.
If your symptoms get worse, then make sure that you contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Can a Urinary Tract Infection Go Away On Its Own?
Yes, lower UTIs that have only mild symptoms can go away on their own. However, this is usually rare. In most cases, people with a urinary tract infection need to take antibiotics to pass the infection.
A UTI that is left untreated can result in more serious health problems. In order to prevent damage to your kidneys or bladder, it is essential that you contact your doctor if you experience UTI symptoms.
Is It Safe to Treat UTIs Without Antibiotics?
On rare occasions, the body can clear uncomplicated UTIs on its own without taking antibiotics. In fact, up to 42% of uncomplicated urinary tract infections can pass on their own..
However, in these cases, people often use home remedies to remove the infections, including a higher water intake, eating probiotics and improved hygiene.42% of uncomplicated urinary tract infections can pass on their own
However, untreated UTIs can last for weeks and they carry a greater health risk. If the infection moves up the urethra into the kidneys, then this can cause a kidney infection.
An untreated UTI can also weaken the immune system, leading to a higher risk of cardiac disease, STIs and lupus.
Signs Your UTI Is Going Away
Similar to other infections, people notice that their symptoms are slowly improving when a UTI is clearing. They may experience less painful urination and feel better overall.
This can vary depending on the type of urinary tract infection you have and what you are doing to aid its recovery.
You can also check if your UTI is gone with home testing strips. However, this is often not necessary as the symptoms quickly improve.
Keep in mind that as you feel UTI symptoms slowly clear away that you still carry on with the antibiotics treatment until the end. This will remove the UTI fully from your body.
Here are the key signs that show your urinary tract infection is passing when you start treatment with antibiotics.
Less Frequent Urination
You may notice that you have to go to the bathroom a lot less often.
Less Smelly Urine
The strong smell of your urine will go away during the course of antibiotics treatment. Your pee will also change to its normal light yellow color with a normal odor.
Less Painful Urination
Urinary tract infections lead to a stinging or burning sensation each time you pee. Once you start treatment, you will notice this uncomfortable sensation slowly going away.
Clear Your Bladder Fully
You will find that you can slowly remove all the urine from your bladder during urination.
Chills or Fever
With a UTI, you may experience fever, chills or cold sweat. These symptoms will clear after a few days.
Lower Back Pain
Urinary tract infections commonly cause a variety of aches and pains around the body. When you start treatment, you will notice tummy pain and lower back pain disappear after some days.
How Can DrHouse Help You?
If you start to experience UTI symptoms, then it is essential that you get the right treatment quickly.
With DrHouse, you can see an online doctor in as little as 15 minutes. The doctor will assess your symptoms and provide you with a personalized treatment plan. This means that you can get the antibiotics and pain relief medication you need to clear up your UTI safely.
So don’t risk your health by waiting. Get the treatment you need today!
A UTI can last as short as three days if the infection is treated. However, it can persist for much longer without antibiotic medication.
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- Porat A, Bhutta BS, Kesler S. Urosepsis. [Updated 2023 May 29]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482344/
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