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I Think I Have a UTI: Do I Need Antibiotics?

I Think I Have a UTI: Do I Need Antibiotics?

Up to 10 million people visit their primary care physician or local urgent care clinic every year in the United States to seek care for a suspected urinary tract infection (UTI). Unlike the average upper respiratory infection, a UTI won’t eventually go away on its own—instead, it requires prompt antibiotic treatment. 

If you’ve been experiencing painful urination, bladder tenderness, strong-smelling urine, or other signs of a suspected UTI, see our American River Urgent Care team ASAP. When you stop by our walk-in clinic in Orangevale, California, you can expect to receive the infection-clearing treatment you need, starting with an accurate UTI diagnosis via our on-site lab. 

Here, we discuss the ins and outs of UTIs, including why they always require antibiotics. 

Urinary tract infection basics 

 A UTI is an infection of the urinary system, which includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Urine, one of your body’s waste products, is made in your kidneys. It travels through thin tubes (ureters) to your bladder, where it stores liquid waste until you go to the bathroom. When you empty your bladder, urine flows out of your body through a thin tube (urethra).

Most UTIs affect the bladder and the urethra, also known as the lower urinary tract. 


UTIs are common, accounting for millions of doctor visits and antibiotic prescriptions each year. About one in two women develop a UTI at some point in life, and of those, roughly one in four experience recurrent bladder infections. In contrast, only about 12% of men develop a UTI in their lifetime.   


UTIs occur when bacteria enter the urethra, travel to the bladder, and begin to multiply. More than 90% of UTIs are caused by a strain of E. coli that lives in the lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract or large intestines. 

Women are more susceptible to UTIs because their urethras are shorter and closer to the anus, where E. coli bacteria are common. 


UTIs trigger inflammation within the lining of the urinary tract. It’s this localized swelling that’s responsible for most UTI symptoms, such as relentless pelvic pressure or the strong urge to urinate, that only produces a small amount of urine. Other symptoms include:

Depending on the extent of the infection, UTI symptoms may be mildly irritating or painfully severe. A UTI can also cause fatigue, fever, and chills like other infections.   

Prompt UTI care is important  

You should seek treatment for a UTI as soon as you suspect you may have one. Prompt expert care can prevent the infection from moving upstream to your ureters and kidneys, where it can cause a painful renal infection that can lead to serious health problems. 


Our team reviews your medical history and symptoms to diagnose a UTI, conducts a physical exam, and performs a comprehensive urinalysis and urine culture. A urinalysis checks your urine for the immediate markers of infection, while a urine culture helps identify the specific bacteria. 


Nearly all UTIs require antibiotic treatment, which is another reason it’s so important to seek expert evaluation and care anytime you suspect you have one. While minor UTIs are sometimes clear on their own, it’s impossible to assess whether that will be the case for you. 

Any UTI that causes moderate to severe symptoms, especially when accompanied by fever, chills, and/or nausea, won’t go away without antibiotics.   

Clearing a UTI with antibiotics

Your UTI treatment plan—or the specific antibiotic we prescribe—depends on the results of your urine culture, which reveals the nature of your infection. Amoxicillin, nitrofurantoin, and doxycycline are just a few of the antibiotics routinely used to treat UTIs. 

Once you fill your antibiotic prescription, taking your medicine as directed is important. Most importantly, be sure to finish your entire course of antibiotics, even if your symptoms ease and you start feeling better. 

Not finishing your antibiotic prescription allows the infection to continue incubating, making it harder to treat when it eventually resurfaces.      

Expert UTI care you can rely on 

If you suspect you have a UTI, don’t hesitate: Prompt diagnosis and treatment are available seven days a week at American River Urgent Care in Orangevale, California. Call 916-238-5469 today, stop by our walk-in clinic at your convenience, or use our easy online booking feature to schedule a visit anytime.

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