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When to treat your urinary tract infection (UTI) with an online medical visit

March 27, 2017 • read

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When to treat your urinary tract infection (UTI) with an online medical visit

If you have an uncomplicated case of a urinary tract infection (UTI) you may be able to avoid an uncomfortable trip to the clinic, and get the medical treatment you need from the comfort of your home.

A UTI is the most common bacterial infection in women. Here in Canada, women make about 500,000 trips the doctor’s office every year due to UTIs, according to the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

If you have ever experienced the feeling of passing sharp razor blades during urination, you are aware of how painful a UTI can be. The symptoms of a common infection include:

  • Increased urinary frequency
  • Burning with urination
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  • The absence of fever or significant abdominal or back pain
  • No possibility of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection

When it comes to uncomplicated UTIs, American Family Physician suggests history is the most important tool for diagnosis and treatment. One study has shown that patients can effectively diagnose their own UTIs and self-initiate treatments with the same success as doctors, with doctors still playing an important management role by telephone.

An additional study compared outcomes of uncomplicated bladder infections in healthy women managed by telephone versus in the office. The conclusion showed that short-term outcomes of managing UTIs by telephone were just as good as those managed by in person care.

This is why doctors can frequently and safely treat urinary tract infections online.This can feel like a more convenient way to deal with this extremely common, yet uncomfortable medical issue.Typical treatment includes a short course of antibiotics like Septra or Macrobid. Additionally, The Kidney Foundation of Canada suggests the following at-home remedies for symptom relief:

Drink plenty of water (about six glasses per day) so that you urinate often. Don’t try to hold your urine once your bladder feels full, and empty your bladder completely each time you pass urine. Women prone to UTIs should urinate after having sex. Wipe yourself from front to back so that you don’t transport bacteria from your anus to your urethra. Cut down on your caffeine and alcohol intake. If you are prone to UTIs, avoid bubble baths, bath oils, perfumed soaps and vaginal douches.

When you need an in person urine sample for your UTI

Urine samples are only recommended if there is a suspicion of a more serious kidney infection. Also, if your symptoms do not improve within 2 to 4 weeks of treatment and/or you experience the following additional symptoms, you should consider seeking more urgent medical care.

  • Blood or pus in the urine
  • Fever, chills or vomiting
  • Diabetes or chronic illness
  • A history of kidney infection or disease
  • Pain or urination during pregnancy
  • Bad back pain


Maple: Our mission is to help people feel better faster, while empowering patients with more healthcare choice and control.

Written by Dr. Brett Belchetz – CEO and practicing emergency room physician in Toronto, with extensive experience in both adult and paediatric medicine. He received his Bachelor of Science with Honours from the University of Western Ontario, and his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Toronto Medical School. He completed specialty training at the University of Toronto, having served as Chief Resident of his program. Dr. Belchetz is dedicated to improving access to care and helping the sustainability of our healthcare system.

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