Sometimes a UTI can come back right after taking antibiotics, or antibiotics don’t make the symptoms go away. In this case, your health care provider may suggest another antibiotic or make sure you are taking the medication correctly. They may also check for other conditions, in case your symptoms are not related to a UTI.
This article explains why the symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI) do not always go away after treatment.
About 60% of women will have at least one UTI in their lifetime. Only 12% of men will have a UTI in their lifetime.
Women get UTIs more often than men. There are several reasons for this. First, women have a shorter duration urethra only men. Second, in a woman’s body, the tube where urine comes out is close to where stool is stored at the end of the intestine (rectum).
Common Symptoms of UTIs
If you have a UTI, the tubes and your bladder become red and irritated (inflammation). You may also have other symptoms, including:
- Urgent need to pee
- Burning sensation or pain when you pee
- Pain, pressure or aches in the lower abdomen (pelvic region)
- Cloudy or pee black
- A little of blood in your pee
- Peeing with a strong or foul odor
to sum up
UTIs are common infections that occur when bacteria enter the organs that help you urinate. The bacteria causes irritation and can make you sick.
If you have a UTI, you may need to urinate a lot. It can also hurt to pee. You may also notice that your pee looks or smells different than normal.
Why Symptoms Don’t Go Away With Treatment
If you have a UTI, your doctor may prescribe medicine to kill the bacteria causing the infection. These drugs are called antibiotics.
You will usually need to take the medicine every day for about 2 weeks. You should also drink plenty of fluids to help clear the infection from your body.
Even if you take the medicine as your doctor has told you and drink a lot, your infection may not go away. There are several reasons why this can happen.
Taking the wrong antibiotic or taking it the wrong way
Antibiotics are drugs that attack bacteria. Since UTIs are caused by bacteria, your doctor may give you an antibiotic to clear up the infection.
Sometimes the medicine is not effective in fighting the infection. If you are taking the medicine and you still feel sick, talk to your doctor. There is more than one treatment for UTIs. If the first one doesn’t work, you can try another one.
In one study, researchers looked at 670,450 women with UTIs. About half of the women received an antibiotic that did not work. Many women also took the medication longer than necessary to clear the infection.
You might get the right medicine, but make a mistake when you take it. If you take the medication the wrong way, your symptoms may not improve. You could also get a UTI again or make the infection worse.
Here are some important things to know about taking antibiotics for a UTI:
- Keep taking your antibiotics even if you start to feel better. You need to take all the doses to make sure the infection goes away. Do not “save” any medicine for later.
- Only take the medicines that your doctor has given you (prescribed).
- Do not give your antibiotics to other people.
to sum up
There are several reasons why a UTI does not go away after taking antibiotics. The drug might not have been effective in fighting the bacteria. If this happens, you may need to try another.
The medicine may also not work if you make a mistake while taking it. For example, if you do not take all the doses prescribed by your doctor.
When an antibiotic is used a lot, it may stop working. It’s called antibiotic resistance. This is the reason why some UTIs do not improve with treatment.
If the medicine you’re taking doesn’t fight bacteria very well, your doctor might prescribe a different one.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says antibiotic resistance is increasingly becoming a problem. About 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur each year in the United States
Chronic or recurrent UTIs
Some people get UTIs more often than others. They may have UTIs that last a long time (chronic) or that come back more than 3 times a year (recurrent).
You may have heard that cranberry juice or cranberry pills can help if you have a lot of UTIs. Some studies have tested whether cranberry products containing fruit sugar D-mannose benefit people who get urinary tract infections. More research needs to be done to see how well they work.
When it’s not a urinary tract infection
You might feel like you have a UTI, but you actually have another medical or health problem. Here are a few conditions that have some of the same symptoms as a UTI:
Some cancers also share symptoms with UTIs, including:
If you have any of these conditions, you might also have other symptoms like:
- Fever and chills
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain and tenderness in specific places
- Irritation, rashes or sores (with sexually transmitted infections)
- lose weight without trying
- Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- blood in semen
If you’re not feeling well, your doctor can determine if a UTI is causing your symptoms. If it’s not a UTI, they’ll look for other reasons why you’re sick.
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms. They might also ask you if any health issues exist in your family. They may want to do some tests to get more clues about what is making you sick.
A urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria enter the organs that help you urinate (such as your urethra, bladder, and kidneys). When you have a UTI, your doctor may give you medicine to make the infection go away. These are called antibiotics.
You may need to take more than one antibiotic if the first one doesn’t work. You must take the medicine exactly as your doctor has told you. If you don’t, your symptoms may not improve or the infection may return.
You could take the medicine the right way and still feel sick. Or you might start having more symptoms. In this case, you may not have a UTI. Other health problems can look like a urinary tract infection. Tell your doctor about your symptoms so they can figure out what’s wrong.
A word from Verywell
If you have a lot of UTIs or your symptoms aren’t improving with treatment, you may be worried there’s a serious problem. Share these concerns with your doctor. They can help you understand why you often have UTIs or why you take longer to heal.
Some people have a lot of urinary tract infections. Others need more time to feel better when they have a UTI. There may be some things you can do to help keep UTIs at bay or to feel better sooner if you have one.
If you’re taking treatment for a UTI and you still don’t feel better, you may not have a UTI. There are other conditions that have some of the same symptoms as a UTI. This is why you should tell your doctor about any symptoms you have. They will use this information to understand why you are feeling sick and to make sure you are getting the right treatment.
Verywell Health only uses high quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts in our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact check and ensure our content is accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
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Centers for Control and Prevention of Disasters. Urinary tract infection.
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Eells SJ, Bharadwa K, McKinnell JA, Miller LG. Recurrent urinary tract infections in women: comparative effectiveness of 5 prevention and management strategies using a Markov Monte Carlo chain model. Blink Infect Dis. 2014 Jan 15;58(2):147-160. doi:10.1093/cid/cit646
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American Cancer Society. Signs and Symptoms of Prostate Cancer.
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