Normally, your bladder doesn’t host bacteria. But when bacteria do get in—usually by way of the digestive tract—you’ll certainly notice it. The best thing to do is see your doctor, who will prescribe an antibacterial drug. Which drug you take just depends on your medical history and the results of your urinalysis. Some of the most commonly prescribed are amoxicillin, ampicillin, nitrofurantoin and trimethoprim. Additionally, broad-spectrum antibiotics called quinolones, including ciprofloxacin, norflaxacin, ofloxacin, and trovafloxin.
It will usually take one or two days for your infection to clear up, as long as you don’t have any complications like a kidney infection or diabetes. Remember, even if your symptoms have disappeared, it doesn’t mean your infection has. So you should always make sure you take the entire dosage—which will usually last a week or two.
More complicated cases may take longer to heal and require specific drugs, so make sure you tell your doctor if you have diabetes, genital infections or structural abnormalities. He or she will tailor your treatment, and will likely have you in for a follow-up urinalysis to make sure your infection has cleared.
If you also have, or suspect you have a kidney infection, seek care immediately. Untreated, kidney infections can lead to kidney damage—or even failure. Your doctor will probably give you several weeks’ worth of treatment and ensure that you are taking in enough fluids.
While it’s important to see a medical provider as soon as you think you have a bladder infection, you can take over the counter drugs like ibuprofen, or apply a heating pad to ease the pain. Spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol and smoking should be avoided—in fact, one of the leading causes of bladder cancer is from cigarette smoking. And of course, don’t panic. UTI’s are relatively common and usually clear up soon after starting treatment.