Is It Possible to Get Antibiotics for UTI Over the Counter?

Table of Contents

Share Post

Getting sick is stressful. It can be even more stressful if you don’t have a primary care physician or health insurance. If you think you have a UTI, you want fast, effective treatment. You might wonder if you can get antibiotics for UTI over the counter.

Unfortunately, antibiotics are not available over the counter. To purchase antibiotics, you need a valid prescription from a licensed doctor. Learn more about UTIs and how to treat them.

Need help with UTI?

Get access to a licensed medical professional.

Can I get antibiotics for UTI over the counter?

The short answer: No. In almost every country with any federal drug regulation, you will need a prescription from a doctor, physician’s assistant, or nurse practitioner to get antibiotics.

Why? You can treat not every illness with antibiotics—if you have a virus or a fungal infection, antibiotics won’t make you feel better or help your body fight off the disease more quickly.

If you wanted to get antibiotics for UTI over the counter, you would first have to visit a doctor for a culture to identify the bacteria. Otherwise, you would only be able to get a broad-spectrum antibiotic. These medicines kill many bacteria—including the helpful ones in your digestive tract and various other systems throughout your body.

Killing these good bacteria can cause digestive upset or other infections such as C. diff. All medications, including antibiotics, come with a risk of side effects or allergic reactions. It helps to consult your doctor before starting any medication to decide if it is right for you.

There’s also the public health issue: taking antibiotics when you don’t have a bacterial infection can cause antibiotic resistance. Like all living organisms, bacteria can evolve. Sometimes, they can develop so that they are harder to kill, and the antibiotics used to eliminate them no longer work effectively. Drug-resistant “superbugs” can make once easy-to-treat infections life-threatening. Overusing antibiotics increases the likelihood of superbugs, which is why antibiotics are unavailable without a prescription.

What are the available otc UTI treatments?

While only an antibiotic can treat your infection, several over-the-counter UTI products can help relieve your symptoms. In contrast, antibiotics work to fight off the infection. There are also natural remedies that may help your body heal and supplements to prevent your UTI from coming back.

OTC Medications that Relieve Symptoms

The FDA has approved products from AZO and Cystex to help relieve the symptoms of a UTI. AZO Maximum Strength Urinary Pain Relief and other AZO products contain Phenazopyridine, a chemical that acts as a local analgesic when excreted into your urine. This helps numb any pain or burning associated with your UTI. Ibuprofen, a common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) known by brand names Advil and Motrin, can also help reduce inflammation in your bladder or urethra caused by bacteria and help alleviate pain. In addition, AZO Urinary Tract Defenseontain sodium salicylate, which acts as an NSAID UTI medicine, and a chemical called Methenamine, which, when excreted through urine, can help slow the growth of bacteria.

Homeopathic Remedies

These treatments are not recommended in place of antibiotics but can be used with antibiotics to help support your body as it clears the infection and gives you relief faster. If your condition is caused by the E. coli bacteria, a naturally occurring sugar called D-Mannose can help aid recovery. D-Mannose has no known side effects and binds to E. coli bacteria. When you urinate the sugar out of your body, the D-Mannose takes the E. coli.

Garlic and Uva Ursi are two plants that have shown antibacterial activity. Most pharmacies and health-food stores carry garlic supplements, but you can also use raw garlic from your grocery store. Cranberries are known for helping support urinary tract health. Therefore, drinking straight cranberry juice (not cranberry cocktail) or taking cranberry supplements may help your urinary tract flush out the infection more effectively.

Preventing UTIs

Regularly consuming products derived from cranberries can not only help you resolve an acute UTI, but they can also help prevent them before they happen. Good bacteria in your vaginal area can also help protect you from any disease-causing bacteria that your genital area may encounter. There are several probiotics available specifically formulated to support vaginal flora. Topical estrogen may also strengthen your body’s natural defenses against UTIs.

When Methenamine mixes with acidic urine, it creates formaldehyde. Formaldehyde helps kill bacteria, though not aggressive enough to clear an active infection. However, taking Cystex Urinary Pain Relief regularly may help prevent new infections if you are prone to UTIs.

When should I see a doctor?

If you experience symptoms of a UTI, you need to set up an appointment with a medical professional as soon as possible. They will be able to evaluate if you do have a UTI and prescribe you the correct antibiotic. If you start to develop symptoms of renal infection—fever, chills, lower back pain or pain in the side of your back, and nausea or vomiting—seek emergency medical care.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Need to know more about UTIs? Here are answers to some questions you probably have:

No, you will need to take antibiotics to eliminate UTIs.

After starting antibiotics, you should see your symptoms improve within 2-3 days. Make sure to finish your entire course of antibiotics, even if you start feeling better sooner. Stopping your antibiotics too quickly may cause your infection to reoccur and even lead to superbugs. If you do not improve within 2-3 days, or start to feel worse, contact your doctor immediately. 

Any drug cause side effects, including antibiotics. They are usually mild. Common side effects may include nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting. If you develop a rash or any symptoms of an allergic reaction, contact your doctor immediately. 

If you suffer from frequent UTIs, a doctor may prescribe you a low-dose antibiotic to be taken for several months. If you are sexually active and infections tend to flare up after intercourse, your doctor may prescribe you antibiotics to be taken after sex. If your doctor suspects you have a structural abnormality or blockage in your urinary system, they may order an x-ray or CT scan. 

If you do not have a regular doctor and suspect a UTI, you can visit an urgent care clinic or schedule a telehealth appointment with an online healthcare provider for UTI. Both will be able to evaluate your symptoms and write you a prescription if they feel it necessary.

The content on Doctor Alexa’s blog is reviewed by Advanced practice registered nurses or pharmacist and is intended for educational purposes only. This information should not be relied upon as professional medical counsel. Be sure to always consult with your physician about the dangers and benefits of any medication, treatment or procedure.

You shouldn’t wait to see the doctor for simple health needs.