How Long Does a UTI Last: A Detailed Guide

It is observed that one out of five women is bound to get a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) at least once in their life. Most urinary tract infections1 are caused by a bacteria called E. Coli. This bacteria is naturally found in the large intestine but when it gets into the bladder, it causes infections.

If you are wondering how long does a UTI last, what are the symptoms, and its effective treatments, then this is the article for you.

A. Symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection

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by Wavebreakmedia / unlimphotos

UTI symptoms are usually easy to spot since they occur in one of the most sensitive areas of our body. If the mild symptoms of a urinary tract infection are not recognized initially and treated accordingly, it may escalate into a mild kidney infection that will need more than a course of antibiotic treatment to get rid of. This will make you ponder “how long does a UTI last” for an even longer time.

Some of the common symptoms of UTI are:

  1. Pain or burning sensation when you urinate.
  2. A frequent urge to urinate but nothing comes out.
  3. Cloudy or bloody urine.
  4. A strong odor, mostly pungent, from the urine.
  5. Pain in the pelvic region.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, go to the doctor immediately so they can prescribe an oral antibiotics treatment.2

If you wonder, how long does a UTI last after starting treatment, then let us state the answer simply? UTI does not go away in 2 days after starting treatment, your healthcare provider will have to take your urine culture or blood test to check the urine for a severe case of UTI.

B. How is UTI contracted?

A UTI cannot be contracted if the bacteria are outside the urinary tract. It is when the bacteria enter the tract that the risk of infection gets higher.

Some of the conditions that cause UTI contraction 3are:

1. Unhygienic toilets

Being women, we have to use toilets that are sometimes not hygienic. Coming in contact with dirty toilets can increase the risk of infections. An incredible amount of bacteria exist on toilet seats and when we use these, they can sometimes enter our urethra. This is a common reason to contract urinary tract infections.

2. Holding in urine

Another reason why we can get urinary tract infections is because of holding in urine. Bacteria exist naturally in our bladder. But if the bladder is not emptied at regular intervals, these bacteria get the chance to multiply. Excessive bacteria can end up causing bladder infections.

3. Dehydration

Drinking too much water can lead to holding in pee which can cause UTIs. Similarly, drinking less water can also lead you to contract a UTI. Drinking less water undoubtedly has many side effects and one of them is the risk of getting a UTI. Emptying the bladder at regular intervals is important as it reduces the chances of multiplication of bad bacteria in it.

4. Sexual Activity

The risk of contracting UTIs is high through sexual activities since bacteria can conveniently enter inside the body and multiply. Bacteria as long as it is naturally inside the body is harmless to an extent. But once outside bacteria find their way inside the body, they can cause infections. That is why urinating before and after sex is recommended by medical professionals.

5. Underlying conditions

An underlying medical condition like diabetes is more likely to attract UTIs because of the altered immune system. Sometimes when there are blockages in the urinary tract, like kidney stones, UTIs can be caused as a side effect.

Each of these causes has a different answer to how long does a UTI last depending on the severity of the situation.

C. UTIs in men

Women have a higher chance of getting a urinary tract infection than men. More specifically, 30 times higher is the chance. This is because the urethra in women is shorter than in men.

How long does a UTI last in men you ask? The short answer is that it should last 7-8 days with treatment.

Men who do end up contracting UTIs are either over the age of 50 or have an underlying condition that is causing UTI, like for example, diabetes, kidney stones, or an enlarged prostate gland. UTIs in men are also caused because of other bacteria like Chlamydia4 and the HIV virus.

Most men that do get UTIs get them mostly as a side effect of other conditions/diseases. An immunosuppressed body can cause an infection in the urinary tract in men.

Cancer patients also get UTIs as a side effect of chemotherapy. These UTIs that occur as side effects of other influences go away easily with the right treatment.

Since these are just side effects of an already existing condition, the answer to the question of how long does a UTI last is 5-6 days.

A urine culture can usually tell what caused the infection. In these circumstances, always listen to your doctor and complete the antibiotic course prescribed to you.

D. Bladder Infections vs Kidney Infections

The urinary tract consists of the bladder, urethra, ureters, and kidneys. UTIs in the bladder cause bladder infections which are known as Cystitis.

Bladder infections are the most common type of UTI.

So how long does a UTI last if it is in the bladder? A simple bladder infection should go away in two to three days after starting antibiotics. Although, if it has reached the kidneys, a course of at least three to seven days of antibiotics will be prescribed.

UTI in the urethra is known as Urethritis. How long does a UTI last if it is in the urethra you ask? This infection goes away in 3-4 days after taking antibiotics.

The most dangerous type of UTI is a kidney infection when the bacteria travel up to the kidneys. This type of infection is called Pyelonephritis. If you experience any of the following symptoms along with the usual UTI symptoms, your UTI has spread to the kidneys.

See the doctor immediately if you experience:

  1. Fever
  2. Backache/pain
  3. Vomiting
  4. Pain in the pelvic region
  5. Chills

Kidney infection is dangerous because it can cause long-term complications like kidney failure or permanent damage.

Kidney infections, unlike bladder infections, cannot be cured by a course of antibiotics. So getting medical help as soon as you notice a sign of kidney infection is advised. There is no answer for how long does a UTI last when it is in the kidneys because it can cause long-lasting complications.

E. How long does a UTI last?

You have contracted a UTI and are now wondering “how long does a UTI last?” Well, the answer is that normal UTIs last for less than a week.

If you detect the symptoms of a UTI early and take the antibiotic treatment prescribed by a doctor, these infections will go away in 2-3 days for women and 7-10 days for men. But if you ignore the symptoms and a UTI treatment is not prescribed, it can last for more than a week or even cause complications.

Now you may wonder, how long does a UTI last after treatment? If you listen to your doctor and follow the full course of the antibiotics and health advice given to you, the infection should go away in a couple of days. Do not stop the antibiotic treatment after the infection is gone but continue it till the date prescribed.

How long does a UTI last if it is a bladder infection? Bladder Infections will go away in 3-4 days after treatment but if the infections spread to the kidney, it will take 5-6 days to be medically reviewed and treated.

Once treated, the risk of getting another UTI is high as well.

F. How are UTIs treated?

UTIs are self detectable. So if you start seeing signs and symptoms of one, visit a professional medical advisor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

The doctor will either take a blood test or urine sample to check red blood cells, white blood cells, and test chemicals in the urine, depending on the severity of your symptoms. After that, they will decide the course of antibiotics to be prescribed. The course of antibiotics depends on the bacteria causing the infection.

In some cases, CT scans or ultrasounds are conducted to check whether the infection has spread to the kidneys or not. The type of treatment depends on the bacteria causing the infection.

How long does a UTI last if it is undetected? Sometimes UTIs go away on their own in a couple of days without the person feeling any inconvenience but it is always advised to get it checked if there are the appearance of symptoms.

Complicated UTIs need blood tests done by a medical professional to determine the diagnosis and how to treat it. Sometimes, more than oral antibiotics are needed to treat UTIs.

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by acmadsen / unlimphotos

G. How to prevent UTIs?

One in five women is bound to suffer from UTIs. Usually, once you get a UTI, you are prone to get them often.

To prevent recurrent bladder infections, you must learn to take care of your urinary tract. Most of the ways to prevent UTIs are home remedies that are easy to follow.

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by Wavebreakmedia / unlimphotos
  1. Drink plenty of water. If you stay hydrated, it doesn’t only prevent UTIs but also helps the rest of your body. You should drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Drinking fluids helps in flushing out the toxins. Even when you are suffering from a UTI and wondering how long does a UTI last, drink plenty of water and the symptoms will ameliorate faster.
  2. Clean up and urinate before and after any sexual activity. This prevents any harsh bacteria from entering your urinary tract.
  3. Urinate when you need to. Holding in urine is unhealthy and dangerous. It can cause UTIs and even other infections.
  4. Be safe while urinating outside. Unhygienic toilets are not an uncommon phenomenon we have to face. Try not to make direct contact with the toilet seat. Make sure to put down toilet paper if you do need to make contact with the seat.
  5. Some birth control pills can cause UTIs. So always consult your doctor before starting a course.

Hopefully, the article was able to shed some light on how long does a UTI last. Upon observing symptoms of UTI5, consult a medical professional immediately for proper diagnosis, treatment, medication, and care.

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  1. Barnett, Ben J., and David S. Stephens. “Urinary tract infection: an overview.” The American journal of the medical sciences 314.4 (1997): 245-249. ↩︎
  2. Edlund, Charlotta, and Carl Erik Nord. “Effect on the human normal microflora of oral antibiotics for treatment of urinary tract infections.” Journal of Antimicrobial chemotherapy 46.suppl_1 (2000): 41-48. ↩︎
  3. Rodrigues, Paulo, Flávio Hering, and João Carlos Campagnari. “Involuntary detrusor contraction is a frequent finding in patients with recurrent urinary tract infections.” Urologia internationalis 93.1 (2014): 67-73. ↩︎
  4. Kuo, Cho-Chou, et al. “Chlamydia pneumoniae (TWAR).” Clinical microbiology reviews 8.4 (1995): 451-461. ↩︎
  5. Kaur, Rajanbir, and Rajinder Kaur. “Symptoms, risk factors, diagnosis and treatment of urinary tract infections.” Postgraduate medical journal 97.1154 (2021): 803-812. ↩︎

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