How long do antibiotics for a UTI take to work?

Reviewed by Dr Jonah Mink, April 21'1 min read

Simple urinary tract infections do not usually take very long to resolve. Whereas a chest infection may require seven days of antibiotics, UTIs can often be treated more quickly. For women, antibiotic courses for UTIs are often only three days long.

Antibiotics fight bacterial infections by attacking the cell walls of bacteria or slowing down their reproduction. This gives the body’s immune system a chance to fight the infection and completely eradicate the bacteria.

It is important to properly treat a UTI. If left untreated or only partially treated, bacteria can spread from the bladder up into the kidneys. Kidney infections can make a person feel very unwell and can take longer to treat, often requiring hospital admission.

You can help speed up your recovery by drinking plenty of water, taking simple painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen, resting. If you start to feel better before you have finished the course of antibiotics, you must keep taking the tablets until the course has finished. Stopping treatment too soon can allow the infection to take hold once more. It can also lead to problems related to drug resistance, with wider consequences for the general population.

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