Innerpage banner

Can You Go to Urgent Care for a UTI?


Reviewed by: Amy Surdam

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common infection affecting the urinary system. It can develop in the ureters, bladder, kidney or urethra, though it most often occurs in the lower urinary tract in the form of a bladder infection. A UTI can be pretty uncomfortable and pose serious health concerns if not addressed immediately. 

If you have a UTI, it’s essential to seek medical attention at the onset of your symptoms to prevent the infection from spreading. Learn how long a UTI lasts below, what a UTI feels like, preventive tips and when to go to urgent care for a UTI.

UTI Symptoms

UTIs are a common medical condition, accounting for over eight million doctor visits every year. Since some symptoms of a UTI might not be so apparent, it can be helpful to learn to identify the signs so you know if you have a UTI. This way, you can get treatment and start feeling better. Common symptoms of a UTI in the lower urinary tract include:

  • An overwhelming, persistent urge to urinate.
  • Pain or burning while urinating.
  • Cloudy, pink or red urine.
  • Pelvic pain or cramping in the groin area.
  • Frequently passing only small amounts of urine. 

An upper UTI consists of an infection in the kidneys or ureter. It’s essential to seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of these upper UTI warning signs:

  • Shaking and chills
  • Lower back pain or side pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • High fever 

Causes of UTIs

UTIs happen when bacteria enter the urinary tract, causing them to multiply in the bladder. While the urinary tract is designed to prevent bacteria from entering, some people may have a higher risk of developing a UTI, rendering this defense ineffective. 

Women are more likely to develop a UTI since their bladder is shorter and closer to the rectum, making it easier for bacteria to enter the urinary tract. 

It’s helpful to understand the other various causes and risk factors of developing a UTI to determine the root cause of an infection and how to treat or prevent it. Common risk factors for a UTI include:

  • Sexual activity: People who are sexually active are more prone to developing UTIs than those who are not. New sexual partners can also increase your risk of developing a UTI. 
  • Birth control: Some birth controls might increase your chances of developing a UTI. Using spermicidal agents or diaphragms could put you at regular risk of getting a UTI since they can cause bacterial changes in your vaginal flora. 
  • Anatomy: While women tend to have shorter urethras, anyone with a shorter distance from their rectum to the bladder is more likely to develop a UTI. 
  • Structural problems in the urinary tract: Some people can be at risk of developing frequent UTIs if they were born with urinary tract abnormalities that restrict urine flow or cause urinary blockages. 
  • Weakened immune system: A suppressed or weak immune system can put you at risk of developing a UTI since it cannot effectively protect the body from bacteria. If you suffer from certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, you might be at a higher risk of these infections. 
  • Menopause: Since menopause causes a reduced circulation of estrogen, the changes to the urinary system make women more vulnerable to UTIs. 
  • Urinary tract blockage: If you suffer from a urinary blockage like an enlarged prostate or kidney stones, urine can become trapped in the bladder and increase your risk of a UTI. 
  • Recent urinary tract procedure: You might be more likely to develop a UTI after undergoing a urinary procedure, like a urinary exam or surgery. 
  • Frequent catheter use: Frequently or regularly using a catheter can allow more bacteria into your body and increase your chances of developing a urinary tract infection. 

How Soon Should I See a Doctor for a UTI? 

How long your UTI lasts will depend on how quickly you seek treatment. Even if you experience minor effects, it’s critical to seek medical care as soon as possible. If left untreated, your infection could worsen, cause complications or develop into a severe medical problem. 

An untreated UTI can cause a narrowing urethra, sepsis, kidney damage and recurring infections. It’s essential to seek medical care immediately if you experience a high fever, back or side pain, nausea and vomiting, shaking or chills.

How to Treat a UTI

In most situations, physicians will treat a UTI with a short course of antibiotics. They’ll discuss your current symptoms, do a physical exam and order a urine test if needed. Health providers will usually recommend a three to five-day course of antibiotics for mild to moderate UTIs, while severe infections can require IV antibiotics or IV therapy. Men, pregnant women or those with severe symptoms might need a longer medicine course to treat the condition entirely. 

While your UTI symptoms should improve within a few days of starting treatment, it’s crucial to continue the antibiotics as long as your physician prescribes the medicine. Even if your UTI symptoms are gone, it’s vital to continue your medication to prevent the UTI from returning. Completing your prescription will prevent any remaining bacteria from multiplying or becoming resistant to the antibiotics, which could do more harm.

Your urine will likely be sent to the lab for a culture and sensitivity test when you go to urgent care for a UTI. This way, providers can pinpoint the exact organism causing your infection and ensure they prescribed the proper antibiotic. Occasionally, they may need to switch your medication based on the results to help you receive the best possible treatment. 

While antibiotics are crucial for treating a UTI, physicians might suggest over-the-counter pain medicine to reduce discomfort or painful symptoms. They’ll also recommend drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and feel your best. It’s essential to notify your medical provider if your symptoms worsen or don’t improve on antibiotics. 

How to Prevent Future UTIs

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent future UTIs and reduce your risks of painful and uncomfortable symptoms: 

  • Drink more water: Increase your water intake to flush out bacteria before an infection can occur. Staying hydrated will keep your urinary tract clear and help to improve your overall health.
  • Avoid douches, sprays and scented hygiene products: When you use scented products around your genitals, you risk an allergic reaction that can cause bacterial growth.  
  • Use the bathroom immediately following sexual intercourse: Empty your bladder following any sexual activity to remove bacteria that could have moved close to the genital area. You can also flush your urinary tract by drinking water right after intercourse. 

For UTI Treatment, Find a SouthStar Urgent Care Near You 

It’s crucial for you to understand UTI symptoms and when to see a doctor. A UTI might be highly uncomfortable, but it can also present severe issues if left untreated. Seek medical care so you can prevent any complications and quickly get back to feeling better. 

SouthStar Urgent Care providers are dedicated to providing exceptional and compassionate care for all patients. With a network of over 20 clinics, find a location near you and our friendly providers will address your concerns and get you on a treatment plan for quick relief. 

For an appointment, browse our clinics and get in line, online today!