Can You Treat a UTI with Amoxicillin?

  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are most common among women, but men and children may also be affected.

  • Although you can take amoxicillin to treat several bacterial infections, it’s not the recommended first-line treatment for urinary tract infections.

  • Doctors may prescribe 500 mg of amoxicillin three times per day to treat a UTI.

  • Possible side effects of amoxicillin include yeast infections, nausea, and vomiting.

  • People who have UTIs can be said to either have an uncomplicated urinary tract infection or a complicated urinary tract infection.

You're not alone if you’ve had a urinary tract infection in the past year. Statistics show that 10 in every 25 women and 3 in every 25 men will develop a UTI during their lifetime.

Recurrent UTIs are common among women and between 30% and 40% experience recurrent infections six months after an initial infection.

UTIs can cause unpleasant symptoms like pain during urination, sudden urges to urinate, and hematuria (blood in the urine).

While UTIs aren’t typically considered life-threatening, they can cause health complications — like a kidney infection (pyelonephritis) — when left untreated.

Antibiotics are among the most common treatments for UTIs. In this article, we’ll be looking at amoxicillin in particular and how it can be used to treat a UTI.

What is Amoxicillin?

Amoxicillin is a drug belonging to the penicillin class of antibiotics.

This antibiotic interferes with the formation of bacterial cell walls, making the bacteria more vulnerable and helping the immune system to eliminate it.

Both children and adults can use amoxicillin, but different dosages, indications, and formulations will be prescribed based on age and weight.

Amoxicillin is available in capsule, tablet, and liquid suspension forms. It can be used to treat several conditions, including:

What is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) impacts the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. Although bacteria cause most UTIs, viruses or fungi can also be responsible. Bacterial infections are usually treated with antibiotics.

Bacterial UTIs typically begin when certain bacteria from the colon — known as E. coli — enter the urethra and ascend into the urinary tract.

UTIs are easier to prevent than treat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following measures to prevent UTIs:

  • Stay hydrated

  • Limit douching or using sprays and powders in the genital region

  • Wipe front to back to avoid the spread of bacteria

  • Always urinate after sex

A woman sitting in the toilet

When is a Urinary Tract Infection Serious?

Doctors distinguish between complicated urinary tract infections and uncomplicated urinary tract infections.

Uncomplicated UTIs are lower urinary tract infections that occur in nonpregnant, premenopausal women without structural abnormalities of the urinary tract. These can typically be treated with antibiotics or home remedies.

Complicated UTIs, on the other hand, are serious infections that occur in the following individuals:

  • Men

  • Women with upper UTIs (pyelonephritis)

  • Women with abnormalities in the urinary tract

  • People with diabetes

  • Pregnant women and people who are immune-compromised, such as those with HIV

UTIs in Men: What Do I Need to Know?

Urinary tract infections are 30 times more common in women than in men.

Both men and women typically experience the same UTI symptoms, but in men, the prostate gland is also affected and they may experience penile discharge.

When UTIs occur in men, they are always regarded as complicated UTIs that require a doctor’s visit. UTIs in men may also indicate serious underlying conditions, so schedule an appointment if you notice any concerning symptoms.

UTIs in men are often mistaken for STDs, so it’s crucial to speak to your doctor if you notice any pain, discomfort, or changes in the genital region.

Doctors typically prescribe 500 mg of ciprofloxacin twice per day for men with UTIs. Amoxicillin is not recommended to treat complicated UTIs.

Key Point: Why Do UTIs Keep Recurring in Women?

UTIs can be frustrating to deal with, especially if they keep coming back. Certain risk factors increase the likelihood of recurrent infection in women. These include:

  • Sexual intercourse three times or more per week
  • Having multiple sex partners
  • Having a UTI when you’re younger than 15
  • Lower estrogen levels (in menopausal women)

Is Amoxicillin an Effective Treatment Option for a UTI?

Amoxicillin may be used to treat several common bacterial infections, but it is not a common choice for treating UTIs — although it may be an effective treatment option.

Doctors typically prescribe antibiotics, such as single-dose fosfomycin (Monurol®) for treating UTIs. Fosfomycin is also considered a Pregnancy Category B drug by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — this means it may be used by pregnant women, if necessary.

Regarding treating UTIs with amoxicillin, research indicates that E. coli has developed resistance to the beta-lactam class of antibiotics, including amoxicillin.

In addition, as many as 80% of all complicated UTIs are caused by E. coli.

Therefore, taking amoxicillin increases your risk of developing complicated UTIs, especially if you do not follow your doctor’s dosage instructions.

Why would I use amoxicillin to treat a UTI?

If you’re unable to find fosfomycin or you’re allergic to it, your doctor may prescribe amoxicillin or a dose of intramuscular gentamicin as an alternative treatment.

Amoxicillin is also cheaper compared to some other antibiotics. In addition, it is widely available and it may be your doctor’s preferred treatment option.

Should you have any concerns about amoxicillin and its potential side effects, which are listed below, raise them with your doctor during your consultation.

How long does it take for a UTI to resolve with amoxicillin?

You may feel your symptoms improving within the first few days of using amoxicillin, but it’s important to complete your entire antibiotic course.

A typical amoxicillin course is 5–7 days, but it may be longer depending on the severity of your infection.

How Do I Use Amoxicillin to Treat a UTI?

One 500 mg amoxicillin tablet should be taken three times a day until the antibiotic course is complete. Uncomplicated UTIs should be resolved once you’ve completed your antibiotic treatment.

You'll need to take amoxicillin for at least five days, but the duration of treatment may be adjusted by your healthcare provider.

Possible Risks and Side Effects of Amoxicillin

The biggest risk of taking any antibiotic to treat a UTI is that you may develop antibiotic resistance, which makes it more difficult to treat future infections.

Due to the frequent use of antibiotics in the U.S., the CDC is concerned about antibiotic resistance. When taking amoxicillin for the treatment of UTIs, it’s vital to follow your doctor’s recommendations.

Some potential side effects of this antibiotic include:

  • Disruption of the bacteria in your gut, which leads to symptoms like diarrhea

  • Allergic reactions

  • Yeast infections

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Dizziness and confusion (rare)

Who Should Not Be Using Amoxicillin for UTIs?

Doctors won’t prescribe amoxicillin to people with known penicillin allergies. They also may not prescribe it for:

  • Recurrent infection: People who get UTIs frequently should be focused on prevention strategies.

  • Anyone with a complicated UTI – including men, pregnant women, and people with urinary tract abnormalities.

What are the First-Line Treatments for UTIs?

For the reasons mentioned earlier, amoxicillin is not the preferred choice when it comes to treating urinary tract infections.

First-line treatments for uncomplicated UTIs include:

  • Fosfomycin: 3 g, as a single dose

  • Gentamicin (intramuscular): as a single dose — this is not suitable for pregnant women or people with renal impairments

First-line treatments for complicated UTIs include:

  • Ciprofloxacin: 500 mg, taken orally every 12 hours for 7–10 days

A woman drinking medicine

How to Treat UTIs in Pregnant Women

UTIs in pregnant women can be treated safely with fosfomycin, but hospital admission is required for the treatment of upper UTIs in pregnant women.

Other treatments for UTIs in pregnant women include:

  • Cephalexin: 500 mg, four times a day for 5–7 days

  • Nitrofurantoin monohydrate/macrocrystals: 100 mg, twice a day for 5–7 days

Alternative Treatments for UTIs

An uncomplicated urinary tract infection can go away without the aid of antibiotics. Research suggests that between 24% and 42% of uncomplicated UTIs resolve independently.

Therefore, people who have uncomplicated UTIs can explore at-home treatments to speed up the recovery process.

Home therapies for UTIs

While the home remedies listed below can alleviate UTI symptoms, they are not a substitute for medical treatment.

If your symptoms don’t improve within a few days, contact your doctor.

  • Stay hydrated and urinate often: Drinking lots of water and regularly emptying your bladder will help flush bacteria from your urinary tract.

  • Wear loose clothing: Breathable fabrics and nonrestrictive clothing keep the area around the urethra dry, which decreases the chance of bacteria multiplying.

  • Take over-the-counter pain medication: Nonprescription pain medication, like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, will alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with UTIs.

  • Avoid fragranced soaps and feminine products: Douches, powders, and scented soaps can disrupt the vagina’s natural pH, leaving you more prone to recurrent infections.

When Should You Visit a Doctor for a UTI?

Anyone with a complicated UTI should see a doctor when they start experiencing symptoms.

If you suspect you have an upper urinary tract infection and you have one or more of the following symptoms, seek prompt medical attention:

  • Back pain or tenderness

  • High fever

  • Cloudy urine or urine that contains blood or pus

People with upper UTIs may also appear visibly sick, so it’s vital to pay attention to how you look and feel.

You could also use a dipstick test to confirm if you have a UTI. This is a diagnostic tool that will be able to detect, among other things, nitrites that indicate a possible UTI. This test can be done at home or through LifeMD at one of our lab partners near you.

Contact us to learn about our discounted lab orders for these tests.

Where Can I Learn More About Using Amoxicillin for UTIs?

If you suspect you have a urinary track infection, don’t wait for it to go away on its own. Untreated UTIs can give rise to serious complications, especially in men and pregnant women.

At LifeMD a doctor or nurse practitioner can diagnose you with a UTI and prescribe the best treatment for you — whether that’s amoxicillin or one of the other drugs we’ve mentioned in this article.

Book your appointment today to talk to a licensed medical professional who can answer all your questions regarding antibiotic treatments and potential side effects.

Harmony Vance, APRN

Harmony is a family nurse practitioner and has been caring for patients for over 20 years through various roles in the medical field. She graduated in 2018 with a Master's Degree and a focus on family care.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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