What Doctor to See for a UTI?

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are most often bacterial infections of the bladder that cause painful urination and frequent trips to the bathroom. As a bacterial infection, antibiotics are needed to treat it, and these require a visit to the doctor. 

There are many doctors that you can visit for a UTI, including primary care physicians and pediatricians, alongside specialists like urologists and nephrologists. 

Continue reading to see when each doctor is recommended and the locations available for these visits.

Key Takeaways:

  • UTIs are bacterial infections of the urethra, bladder, ureters, or kidneys. They require antibiotics as a treatment. 
  • The doctors you can see for a UTI include primary care physicians, urologists, gynecologists, nephrologists, and pediatricians. 
  • You can visit a walk-in clinic, or an urgent care center, or use telehealth for UTI help.  
  • If you have a UTI or think you have one you should see a doctor as soon as possible.
  • Untreated UTIs can lead to serious complications.

Table of Contents

Overview of UTIs

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is most often a bacterial infection of the bladder, although it may affect any other part of the urinary tract, including the urethra, ureters, or, in severe cases, the kidneys. UTIs may also result from viral or fungal infections, but these are much less common than bacterial infections. 

Women, because of their body’s anatomy, are more susceptible to UTIs than men. This is because their urethra is closer to their anus, and the anus houses E. coli, which is the bacteria that most often causes UTIs. 

Because men are less likely to have a UTI, it is considered a complicated infection when they do have one. 

What Doctor to See for a UTI?

If your UTI symptoms are severe or worsening, they don’t improve after a few days, or if you’re getting recurrent UTIs, it’s time to see a doctor. 

Primary Care Practitioners

The most commonly consulted doctor for a UTI is your primary care practitioner (PCP). They serve as the initial point of contact, and they can perform initial assessments and urine tests to diagnose a UTI and then prescribe antibiotics to treat it. For those experiencing multiple UTIs, a primary care practitioner can also provide advice on ways to prevent UTIs.

The PCP can refer their patient to a specialist in the case of serious UTIs, frequent UTIs, or complications. 

A primary care doctor can also be seen virtually, and they can still provide all these services without you having to leave your home. 

Urologist

Those who experience frequent UTIs may be recommended to visit a urologist, who is a doctor specializing in the urinary tract. 

Sometimes, frequent UTIs result from underlying health issues, such as abnormalities in the bladder, kidneys, urethra, or kidney stones. A urologist can help to rule out or diagnose these issues and then begin treatment. 

The urologist can perform advanced diagnostic tests, prescribe antibiotics that have narrower targets, and may recommend surgical interventions when needed. 

Gynecologist

A gynecologist specifically treats UTIs in women using their expertise in female anatomy and hormones. 

The gynecologist emphasizes female pelvic health, and they can help in recommending preventive care. If needed, the gynecologist can prescribe antibiotics and, like a primary care practitioner, refer patients to urologists. 

Nephrologist

UTIs can continue up the urinary tract to the kidneys, and in these cases, a doctor may refer you to a nephrologist. These doctors specializing in the kidneys will not only help treat the upper UTI but can also help manage any related complications of this infection. They do this by prescribing appropriate antibiotics, monitoring kidney function, and providing treatment that prevents long-term damage to the kidneys. 

Pediatricians

Children with a UTI will see their pediatrician, who can prescribe antibiotics appropriate for children and monitor their recovery. The pediatrician can also refer them to specialized care intended for children if needed.  

Where Can I Get Help for a UTI?

If you have a UTI, there are many places you can go to for help. 

Often, the number one location to head to is a walk-in clinic, such as your primary care physician or, in the case of children, a pediatrician. 

Along these same lines, you can also forgo an in-person visit entirely and use telehealth to meet with a doctor. Using your mobile device, you can share your symptoms with your doctor, and they can prescribe you antibiotics. 

Urgent care centers are another place you can go to for same-day UTI help, or if your UTI symptoms are severe, you can go to the emergency room

Why Is It Important to See a Doctor for a UTI?

Very mild UTIs may go away on their own, but most UTIs require at least a short course of antibiotics in order to go away and you can only receive these antibiotics by seeing a doctor, whether in-person or online. While over-the-counter medications are available for UTIs, they can only resolve symptoms, they cannot treat the infection; only an antibiotic can do that. 

Even more, by seeing a doctor as soon as you notice the symptoms of a UTI, they can deal with the infection while it is easiest to treat. This prevents the infection from progressing to something more severe (and the unpleasant symptoms that come with it), along with the more intensive antibiotics needed. 

Complications can arise if you leave a UTI untreated for too long. While in some cases, the UTI will go away on its own after a few days, in others, the infection can get worse and spread further up the urinary tract. If it keeps traveling, it may reach the kidneys, resulting in a kidney infection, which is a more severe infection that increases the risk of bacteria entering the bloodstream, a condition called sepsis. 

Because of the serious risk associated with an untreated UTI, it’s best to see a doctor for a UTI as soon as possible, or at least if your symptoms are getting worse or aren’t improving after a few days. 

In Conclusion

UTIs are infections of the urinary tract that leave people with symptoms such as pain when urinating, frequent need to visit the restroom and cloudy or bloody urine. When it comes to UTIs, antibiotics are the only way to treat them, and it’s best to start antibiotics as soon as possible to prevent a more severe infection from developing. 

There are many doctors you can see for a UTI, including primary care physicians, pediatricians, gynecologists, and urologists. Even more, you can go to an in-person clinic or urgent care center or use telehealth to visit a doctor without having to leave your house. 

Sources:

Content on the DrHouse website is written by our medical content team and reviewed by qualified MDs, PhDs, NPs, and PharmDs. We follow strict content creation guidelines to ensure accurate medical information. However, this content is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For more information read our medical disclaimer.

Always consult with your physician or other qualified health providers about medical concerns. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it based on what you read on this website.

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