A urinary tract infection, or UTI, is a bacterial inflammation of the bladder, kidneys or urethra. Urinary tract infections are often painful and cause frequent urination. UTIs can also cause the appearance of blood in urine or discomfort in the abdomen and pelvis. While over-the-counter treatments can temporarily relieve UTI symptoms, a physician can prescribe antibiotics to actually cure the infection.
Some medical professionals advocate the consumption of cranberry juice or cranberry supplements as part of a treatment regimen for UTIs. Pure cranberry juice contains proanthocyanidins, which are chemicals that prevent infection-causing bacteria from adhering to the walls of the urethra. While clinical studies have shown that cranberry juice can help prevent UTIs, there is little conclusive evidence that cranberry juice is effective for treating existing infections. Still, some medical professionals suggest drinking cranberry juice while fighting a UTI. Your physician will be able to tell you whether cranberry juice should accompany your treatment plan.
Phenazopyridine hydrochloride is a medication that has a analgesic effect on the urinary tract. Physicians can prescribe this medication under its brand name, Pyridium, to help relieve the discomfort associated with UTIs, but over-the-counter versions are available as well. Products such as AZO and Uristat contain phenazopyridine hydrochloride and are marketed for UTI relief. The medication is an organic dye that works by coating the inner lining of the urinary tract and acting as a topical anesthetic.
When phenazopyridine hydrochloride is excreted through the urethra, it may turn the urine orange or red. This is a natural side effect of the dye properties of phenazopyridine hydrochloride. When handling medications that include phenazopyridine hydrochloride, it is important to refrain from touching contact lenses or clothing since the medication can stain these items. You should not cut the tablet in half or chew it, as this can also release the dye from the medication.
Methenamine and Sodium Salicylate
Methenamine is an antibiotic available through a prescription as well as over-the-counter. Sodium salicylate is an analgesic that relieves pain associated with UTIs by acting on the urinary tract as a local anesthetic. Cystex is an over-the-counter drug that contains both ingredients to treat pain and prevent the infection from worsening. Cystex should be taken twice daily, and plenty of water should be consumed throughout the day to help relieve UTI symptoms.
While over-the-counter medications that contain methenamine may provide relief from UTIs, you will need to take prescription-strength methenamine or a similar antibiotic to cure the infection.