Treatment for Bladder Infection in Adults

How do health care professionals treat a bladder infection?

If you have a bladder infection caused by bacteria, your health care professional will likely prescribe antibiotics. You can help speed up your recovery and ease your symptoms by drinking more liquids. Drinking more liquids helps flush the bacteria out of your urinary tract.

Your health care professional may also prescribe over-the-counter pain relievers to help with pain. You may be asked to use medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

Sometimes, your health care professional cannot confirm a diagnosis based on symptoms and test results. You may not need antibiotics. Instead, your health care professional will work to find the cause and another way to treat your symptoms.

Self-care at home

Drink lots of liquids to stay hydrated and help healing. Water is best.

Talk with your health care professional if you can’t drink a lot of liquids due to other health problems. Some problems may include urinary incontinence, kidney failure, or heart disease. Your health care professional will help you decide the amount of liquids that is right for you.

A heating pad on your back or abdomen may help you ease pain from a bladder infection.


Your health care professional may select an antibiotic based on the type of bacteria causing your infection. Your health care professional will consider any allergies you may have to antibiotics.

The length of antibiotic treatment depends on

  • how severe your infection is
  • whether your symptoms and infection go away
  • whether you have repeat infections
  • whether you have problems with your urinary tract

Men may need to take antibiotics longer than women because bacteria can move into the prostate. If bacteria get into the prostate, the infection may be more difficult to fight.

If needed, your health care professional may suggest other medicines to relieve any pain or discomfort caused by your bladder infection.

A doctor talks with a patient while holding a prescription bottle.Follow your health care professional’s instructions carefully when taking antibiotics to treat an infection.

How do health care professionals treat the complications of a bladder infection?

If a bladder infection leads to a kidney infection, your health care professional will prescribe antibiotics. If you are very sick from the kidney infection, you may need antibiotics through an intravenous (IV) tube. You might go to a hospital or receive IV antibiotics at home.

How can I prevent a bladder infection?

Sometimes, you may be able to help prevent a bladder infection by taking the steps below.

Keep your urinary tract healthy

You can help keep your urinary tract healthy by

  • drinking enough liquids
  • developing healthy bathroom habits, including wiping front to back
  • using the bathroom when you feel the urge to urinate
  • taking the time to fully empty your bladder when urinating

Wear loose-fitting clothing

Consider wearing cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes that don’t trap moisture. Some health care professionals think that too much moisture increases the risk of infection.

Consider switching birth control methods

Talk with your health care professional about switching your birth control if you have repeat bladder infections. Some forms of birth control such as diaphragms, unlubricated condoms, or spermicide may increase your chances of getting a bladder infection.

Consider using vaginal estrogen

If you are in perimenopause or menopause and you have repeat bladder infections, your health care professional may prescribe low-dose, vaginal estrogen. Vaginal estrogen increases good bacteria and helps prevent infection.

Last Reviewed April 2024
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This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.