Managing Days 5-10 of UTI Treatment with Antibiotics

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are infections of the urethra, bladder, and/or kidneys. Most UTIs require several days of prescribed antibiotic treatment to control the infection. Here is what to expect when managing days 5-10 on a UTI antibiotic. 

Common Symptoms of a UTI

Because bacteria have grouped where they are not supposed to be, inflammation of the urinary tract causes the symptoms of a UTI. We'll explore the common UTI symptoms in complicated and uncomplicated cases.

In uncomplicated urinary tract infections, the urethra and bladder are usually the only body parts involved, and patients feel mild symptoms in those areas. Those symptoms may include the following:

  • Burning and pain while urinating
  • Frequently needing to urinate 
  • Feeling the need to urinate even if the bladder is empty
  • Blood in the urine that you may or may not be able to see with your eyes (sometimes only seen in labs)
  • Cramping or pressure in the groin, lower abdomen, or stomach

When urinary tract infections become complicated, it means they have become kidney infections (pyelonephritis). The symptoms of pyelonephritis are due to more parts of the body becoming involved:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Flank pain, or pain in the lower back or side of the back
  • Nausea and/or Vomiting

How Long Should I Take Antibiotics for a UTI?

The timeline of treatment for urinary tract infections depends on a few factors. The first is the type of UTI. Treatment for more severe conditions requires more days of antibiotics.

The treatment for uncomplicated UTIs is usually a 3-day or a 5-10 day regimen. Some statistics within your community help providers decide what medication to use. These records include which bacteria are most common, what antibiotics work best, and which don't work as well due to antibiotic resistance.

Complicated UTI treatment is frequently 10-14 days. This duration is the UTI treatment male patients will experience. The longer course of antibiotic treatment is associated with a more severe infection.

Why Days 5-10 of UTI Treatment with Antibiotics Are Important

Why are days 5-10 of UTI treatment with antibiotics important? Because your symptoms should be resolved by this point. Let's explore why you may still have symptoms during days 5-10 of antibiotic treatment for your UTI. 

Antibiotic resistance is when infections don't respond to antibiotics. This resistance is becoming more common because of inappropriate use of antibiotics or not completing an antibiotic regimen. It may also occur if you are a person that is frequently prescribed antibiotics for other reasons, which is why you should never share your antibiotics and always finish your antibiotic regimen. 

You may continue to experience UTI symptoms because you may not be on the right antibiotic. It is also possible that you may be experiencing a UTI caused by a virus or a fungus. In this situation, you should call your healthcare provider and let them know you are still experiencing symptoms. 

Another reason you may still be experiencing symptoms is that you may not have a UTI. It may be a sexually transmitted infection (STI) with similar symptoms to a urinary tract infection. 

Ways to Prevent Getting a UTI

The best way to not experience a urinary tract infection is to prevent getting one in the first place! Let’s explore a few ways to prevent UTIs: 

    • Ladies, always urinate after sexual activity, especially after sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse invites bacteria into the urethra because it is close to the vagina.
    • Stay well hydrated. Try to drink two liters of water per day for happy kidneys.
    • Take showers, not baths. The sitting water can invite foreign bacteria into the urethra.
    • Avoid douching or using sprays or powders in the genital area. This process introduces unnatural substances to the genital area and can flush out the good bacteria that live there.
  • Always wipe front to back. Because the anus, vagina, and urethra are all close neighbors, it is important not to introduce those bacteria from the anus to the vagina and urethra.
      • Don't hold it; always urinate when you have to go! Letting urine stay in the bladder for long periods allows bacteria to grow in the urine, causing bacteriuria.
  • Avoid spermicidal foam and diaphragms. These birth control methods can increase the likelihood of developing a UTI. Speak to your healthcare provider about alternative birth control methods if you experience multiple UTIs while using these forms of birth control.
  • Potential Side Effects of Taking Antibiotics for a UTI

    Every medication can cause side effects, some are mild, and some are serious. Here are a few side effects that you may experience while taking antibiotics for a urinary tract infection:

    • Rash
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Yeast Infection
    • C. diff, an infection within the digestive tract whose hallmark sign is persistent diarrhea 

    Schedule a follow-up appointment with your provider if you experience diarrhea not relieved by probiotics and medications or develop a yeast infection. Always look out for more severe side effects, and go to your nearest emergency room if you experience difficulty breathing, swallowing, or facial swelling. Don't hesitate to contact your doctor's office for questions about your UTI treatment.

    Differences Between a Bacterial and a Viral UTI

    Bacteria and viruses are different organisms. Your body is home to many types of bacteria, and they live happily in their community within your body without causing problems. However, when bacteria find themselves where they aren't supposed to, they can colonize and cause infection. Healthcare professionals treat bacteria with antibiotics.

    Viruses are non-living organisms. They do not naturally live in your body and can invade your body and cause illness. Healthcare professionals treat them with antiviral medications, as antibiotics do not work for viruses. Viral urinary tract infections occur in people with weakened immune systems, such as those with cancer, HIV/AIDs, or anyone taking immunosuppressant medication.

    UTIs are infections of the urinary tract, and you can usually treat them with antibiotics for at least three days. Days 5-10 of antibiotic UTI treatment are crucial because your symptoms should be gone. If they aren't, it's time to call your doctor because you may need a change in your treatment plan. Remember to drink plenty of water, use the bathroom when needed, and always finish your antibiotics! 


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    Kirsten Gonzalez

    Kirsten Gonzalez MSN, APRN, ACNPC-AG has worked in the nursing profession for ten years and currently writes blog posts and articles for medical topics. She currently works as a Cardiothoracic Surgery Nurse Practitioner with End Stage Heart Failure patients. She enjoys spending time with her kids, husband, and dog and loves traveling to explore new places and trying out the local foods.