How Doctors Can Treat UTIs via Telemedicine
What Is a UTI and What Causes It?
Urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria entering the urethra—usually the bacteria E. coli. Most UTIs occur in the lower urinary tract, affecting only the urethra and the bladder. Bacteria can sometimes spread to the upper urinary tract (ureters and kidneys), growing progressively more severe if left untreated. Risk factors for contracting a UTI include diabetes, poor personal hygiene, some forms of contraception, and even sexual activity for women. UTI symptoms are similar in both men and women but they occur far more commonly in women.
Symptoms include: a strong, persistent urge to urinate; a frequent need to urinate; a burning sensation when urinating; cloudy urine; reddish or abnormally colored urine; strong-smelling urine. Most such UTIs can be treated with antibiotics and will clear up within a few days. In the most severe UTI cases which reach the upper urinary tract, symptoms may include upper back and side pain, high fever, shaking, chills, fatigue, and nausea; conditions such as these likely indicate a medical emergency and should be evaluated immediately.
How Are UTIs Treated?
The most common way of treating UTIs is with antibiotics. Treatment from home without antibiotics is not recommended because an infection will likely worsen or spread to other parts of the body if not treated. If you are allergic to antibiotics and need treatment for a UTI, seek the advice of a physician. Staying well hydrated, urinating often, consuming probiotic supplements and foods, and practicing good hygiene may help reduce the risk of contracting a UTI in the first place.
A typical, uncomplicated UTI will clear up within about 3 to 10 days depending on the treatment regimen prescribed and the severity of the infection. It is very important to take the entire dose over the entire duration prescribed by the doctor; quitting an antibiotic treatment early, before all the bacteria in the urinary tract are dead, can breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Upon diagnosing a patient with a UTI, the doctor can prescribe an antibiotic. Before prescribing an antibiotic, doctors will consider risk factors such as whether the patient is over age 65, pregnant, allergic to any antibiotics, or has had side effects from antibiotics in the past. The antibiotics commonly used for treating UTIs include: amoxicillin, augmentin, ceftriaxone, cephalexin, ciprofloxacin, fosfomycin, levofloxacin, nitrofurantoin, and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole. These are not available over the counter. One reason for this is to prevent overuse of antibiotics and the proliferation of resistant bacteria. It is recommended that patients with UTI symptoms see a doctor as soon as possible for treatment.
How Can Doctors Treat UTIs via Telemedicine?
Fortunately, telemedicine provides a discreet, convenient, and inexpensive way to treat many UTI cases. UTIs are among the health conditions most easily diagnosed and treated via telemedicine, and one of the most common issues treated by SAMI-Aid’s doctors on a regular basis. An in-person diagnosis of a UTI generally involves urinalysis. Since this isn’t feasible for remote consultations, the doctor will instead ask the patient a series of highly targeted questions to determine whether the patient’s symptoms point to a UTI as the likely cause. In more severe or uncertain cases, the telemedicine doctor may recommend an in-person consultation. SAMI-Aid’s doctors can prescribe antibiotics to treat UTIs in women only via telemedicine, while men with UTI symptoms are directed to seek in-person care.
If you would like to book a virtual appointment with a SAMI-Aid doctor, you only need to pay $59.99 at the time of your appointment. SAMI-Aid's doctors are board-certified in every U.S. state and can provide advice, diagnoses, and some prescriptions if necessary. Besides UTIs, SAMI-Aid’s doctors commonly treat SAMI-Aid membership is completely free and includes free bonus features, such as a local search for physicians who accept cash and charge low rates for office visits.