You’re not alone if you dread your phone’s weekly screen report. We’re all spending more time online these days.
As more and more of our daily tasks are digitized—online shopping, online banking, you name it—it’s only natural to wonder whether you can get medical care online too.
Specifically, can you order UTI antibiotics online?
The short answer is yes, but the long answer is a little more nuanced. Below, we’ll dive into urinary tract infection symptoms, causes, home remedies, antibiotic treatments, and how you can get care straight from your laptop or phone.
It’s never been easier to find relief from miserable UTI symptoms.
What Is a Urinary Tract Infection?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in your urinary tract, which includes your urethra, bladder, ureter, and kidneys.
Folks of all genders and biological sexes can get UTIs, but people with vaginas tend to be most susceptible to them.
UTIs occur when foreign bacteria, usually from your rectal area, come in contact with your urinary tract.
The most common culprit is escherichia coli (E. coli), but all kinds of microbes can trigger the infection. Signs of a urinary tract infection include:
- Burning or stinging sensation with urination
- Frequently having the urge to urinate
- Pressure or discomfort in your lower abdomen
- Bloody, cloudy, or foul-smelling urine
- Frequent sexual activity: Having sex solo or with a partner increases the chances that bacteria will move around your genital area and end up in your urinary tract.
- Biological sex: People with vaginas are up to 30 times more likely than people with penises to get UTIs. This comes down to simple anatomy: A person with a vagina has a shorter urethra that is located closer to the anus. So it’s that much easier for bacteria to travel from the anus to the urinary tract.
- Age: Post-menopausal women are at higher risk for UTIs than younger women.
- Genetics: If an immediate family member experiences recurring UTIs, you’re also more likely to get them.
- Hygiene: Forgot to change your underwear? Left your wet swimsuit on all day? These behaviors can create the ideal environment for bacteria to end up where they’re not supposed to be.
- Spermicide use: While the vast majority of contraceptives don’t affect your UTI risk, spermicide is the notable exception. Some research shows that it affects the natural balance of bacteria in your genital area, making it harder for you to fight off a UTI.
UTIs fall into two major categories: lower and upper urinary tract infections. Also called a bladder infection or cystitis, a lower urinary tract infection is the most prevalent type of UTI and also the easiest to treat.
If a UTI is left untreated, it can spread to your upper urinary tract, resulting in a kidney infection (pyelonephritis). This can be dangerous and may require hospital treatment.
How Do Antibiotics Work for UTI Treatment?
Antibiotics are the standard treatment for the vast majority of UTIs. They work by killing the bacteria that caused the UTI.
You typically take antibiotics orally for 3-7 days. Depending on the severity of your infection, your symptoms should start to subside in that time frame.
Even if your symptoms fully disappear, take all of the antibiotics as directed. If you stop taking them, you risk having the infection return.
Different types of antibiotics target different bacteria. So your doctor may order a urine culture to identify which type of bacteria is in your system before prescribing an antibiotic.
Most of the time, though, they prescribe a broad-spectrum antibiotic that kills all the major UTI-causing bacteria.
What’re non-antibiotic options for UTI treatment?
A Google search will result in a laundry list of home remedies for UTIs. However, antibiotics are the only medically backed way to get rid of a UTI without risking further complications.
That said, the natural treatments below will not harm you, so long as you use them with your doctor’s approval and as an addition to antibiotics.
- Hydration: Sometimes urinary tract infections go away on their own if your body flushes out the bacteria. Drinking lots of water can help increase the odds, but this will only work with super mild infections.
- Cranberry juice: Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins. These compounds may stop E. coli and other bacteria from adhering to your urinary tract, but we need more research. If you try this, be sure to choose 100 percent unsweetened cranberry juice.
- Vitamin C: Some studies suggest taking vitamin C supplements may help prevent and treat UTIs. But again, this shouldn’t take the place of treatment from a healthcare professional.
- Probiotics: Probiotic supplements may stave off UTI-causing invaders. They’re also a good tool to counter digestive side effects from antibiotic use.
To avoid UTIs in the future (or at least reduce your risk for recurring infection), several different lifestyle adjustments may help:
- Urinate after sex (including masturbation).
- Wipe front to back to avoid contaminating your urethra.
- Change your underwear daily.
- Change out of wet or sweaty clothes as soon as possible.
How to Get Antibiotics for an UTI Online
Providers like the K Health team can diagnose and treat a UTI by chatting with you through an online app and verifying if you qualify for treatment.
Simply tell your doctor about your symptoms and how long they’ve been going on, and they’ll write you a prescription. Some providers, including K Health, can even ship you the medication.
Or you can purchase it from your local pharmacy or a licensed online pharmacy. If you need in-person care (like in the case of a kidney infection that could put your health at risk), your doctor will tell you.
Risk Factors and Complications of Antibiotics for UTI
Antibiotics have been around for decades and are a safe treatment method for most people. The main potential downside to using them is the risk of antibiotic resistance.
This is when bacteria learn to evade the drugs used to kill them, rendering our current antibiotics ineffective against bacterial infections. Antibiotic resistance is unfortunately a pretty big problem in medicine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2.8 million people in the US get an antibiotic-resistant infection every year.
The good news is that your doctor is likely up to date on the best practices for prescribing antibiotics. Talk to them if you want to know more.
As far as antibiotic side effects, you may experience GI discomfort as a result of the altered bacterial balance in your body.
Your gut is teeming with trillions of organisms that keep you healthy, and antibiotics can kill off the good as well as the bad.
Not to worry, though—the good bacteria will repopulate within a matter of days or weeks. Taking a probiotic supplement and eating fermented foods may help speed the reintroduction of those beneficial organisms to your system.
When to See a Doctor
Anytime you’re experiencing symptoms consistent with a urinary tract infection—a burning sensation when you urinate, blood in your urine, or abdominal pain—it’s best to consult with a healthcare provider.
UTIs often get worse if left untreated, so in order to avoid further discomfort, start a treatment plan ASAP.
How K Health Can Help (MD)
A urinary tract infection should never go untreated. Did you know you can get affordable primary care with the K Health app? Download K to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and if needed text with a doctor in minutes. K Health’s AI-powered app is HIPAA compliant and based on 20 years of clinical data.
Frequently Asked Questions
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
Anti-Adhesion Activity of A2-type Proanthocyanidins (a Cranberry Major Component) on Uropathogenic E. coli and P. mirabilis Strains. (2014). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4790394/
Antibiotic / Antimicrobial Resistance. (n.d.). https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/index.html
Antibiotics. (n.d.). https://medlineplus.gov/antibiotics.html
Epidemiology of Urinary Tract Infections: Incidence, Morbidity, and Economic Costs. (2002). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12113866/
Management of Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections in Healthy Adult Women. (2013). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3784967/
The Role of Probiotics in Women with Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections. (2018). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6134985/
Urinary Tract Infections. (n.d.). https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/urinary-tract-infections
Urinary Tract Infections in Adults. (2016). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5027397/
Use of Spermicide-Coated Condoms and Other Risk Factors for Urinary Tract Infection Caused by Staphylococcus saprophyticus. (1998). https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/191301