Can UTI Symptoms Linger After Antibiotics?

Reviewed on 5/19/2021
urinary tract infection (UTI)
UTI symptoms can linger even after antibiotic therapy

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is primarily treated with antibiotics, which can help in resolving symptoms. Sometimes, however, UTI symptoms can linger even after antibiotic therapy. Reasons for this may include:

What causes UTI symptoms to linger even after antibiotic treatment?

Antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic resistance occurs when the bacteria causing your UTI don’t respond to the administered antibiotics, often because of frequent use.

This is especially true for people who have chronic UTIs. When antibiotics are used frequently or constantly, the bacteria may evolve and become resistant to them.

Wrong antibiotics

E. coli is the most common bacteria that causes UTI. However, if your UTI is caused by a less common bacteria strain, or even a virus or fungi, there is a chance that the antibiotic prescribed to treat the infection is not the right one and therefore ineffective. 

For people who don’t respond to the standard therapy for E. coli, a urine culture may be necessary to look at what is causing the UTI.

Underlying conditions

Sometimes, UTI symptoms don’t resolve with antibiotics because it turns out you don’t have a UTI at all, but instead a condition that causes UTI-like symptoms. These conditions may include:

What to do when UTI symptoms linger after taking antibiotics

When antibiotic therapy fails to reduce your UTI symptoms, your doctor may perform a urine culture and sensitivity test to analyze what is causing the infection and prescribe more appropriate treatment. 

Your doctor may also order additional tests such as a pelvic ultrasound or a computed tomography (CT) scan to look for underlying conditions that may be contributing to the problem.

Lifestyle changes may also help reduce the frequency of UTI and lessen the severity of its symptoms:

  • Practice good hygiene. This includes not holding in your urine for long, cleaning/wiping front to back and peeing after sex.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, including water. Water helps flush out bacteria in the urine and reduces your risk of infection.
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Getting enough vitamins through vegetables and fruits every day can help improve your immune system. Citrus fruits high in vitamin C, such as grapefruits, oranges, limes etc. are particularly good for preventing UTI.
  • Take a probiotic. Probiotics can lower the risk of UTI. Moreover, they can help restore the loss of beneficial bacteria that comes with antibiotic treatment.
  • Drink cranberry juice. Cranberry juice is an effective home remedy for UTI. It is also available in the form of dietary supplements.

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References
Antibiotic-resistant urinary tract infections are on the rise. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/antibiotic-resistant-urinary-tract-infections-are-on-the-rise-2019101417982

What is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) in Adults? https://www.urologyhealth.org/urology-a-z/u/urinary-tract-infections-in-adults

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