Should I Go to Urgent Care for a UTI?

By Jennifer Nadel, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
September 27, 2022

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most common types of infection. Symptoms include a burning sensation when peeing, urinary frequency, and urinary urgency. Treatment requires prescription antibiotics, so you should speak with a medical provider if you think you have a UTI. Urgent care centers are an excellent option for UTI treatment if you’re unable to speak with a primary care provider. Urgent care centers often treat this type of infection.

What Is a UTI?

A UTI is a bacterial infection that affects a part of the urinary tract, the body’s drainage system for removing waste and extra water. The urinary tract includes two kidneys, two ureters, one bladder, and one urethra. Most UTIs affect the urethra and bladder and can be easily treated with antibiotics. Anyone can get a UTI, but it’s most common in people with vaginas. 

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Symptoms of a UTI

The most common symptom of a UTI is pain, discomfort, or a burning sensation while urinating. A UTI can cause additional symptoms such as:

  • An intense, persistent, and frequent urge to urinate
  • Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
  • Cloud-colored urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Strong or unpleasant-smelling urine
  • Pelvic pain (in people with vaginas)
  • Pain in the side, lower abdomen, or back
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Fever

Causes of a UTI

UTIs are generally caused by bacteria that enter the body through the urethra. Frequent sexual activity is a common risk factor for UTIs because the friction that occurs during sexual intercourse can promote bacterial migration in the urinary tract. However, age, biological sex, bowel movements, and personal hygiene habits can also affect the likelihood of developing a UTI. 

Can Urgent Care Treat a UTI?

Urgent care centers can treat UTIs. Urgent care centers routinely treat UTIs and are well-equipped to offer testing, diagnosis, and treatment for this type of infection.

How Serious Is a UTI?

In most cases, a UTI is not life-threatening and can be easily treated with antibiotics. However, if you delay treatment, the infection can spread to the kidneys, which is a more serious health condition and warrants immediate medical attention. When a UTI spreads to the kidneys, treatment may require intravenous antibiotics. 

What to Expect at Urgent Care

Urgent care centers are often considered the midway point between emergency and primary care. When you’re unable to make an appointment with a primary care provider, urgent care centers can offer you primary quality health care. Urgent care centers also provide high-quality medical care for concerns that require more immediate attention but are not considered life-threatening. 

When seeking treatment for a UTI at urgent care, you can expect to speak with a licensed medical professional about your symptoms. After discussing your symptoms and medical history, your provider may recommend a simple urinalysis, or urine test, to confirm the suspected UTI. If needed, you will also receive a prescription for antibiotic medication

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UTI Treatments You Can Receive at Urgent Care

Speaking with a medical provider at urgent care will determine whether you have a UTI. If a UTI is confirmed, the urgent care provider will likely prescribe a course of prescription antibiotic medication to clear the infection. Take the medication exactly as prescribed.

When to See a Medical Provider

Contact a medical provider as soon as you experience symptoms of a UTI. Speaking with them will help to rule out other possible infections and can also determine the type and severity of UTI. The earlier you start treatment, the sooner you can start to feel better. Early treatment is also key to preventing the infection from spreading to your kidneys. 

How K Health Can Help

Did you know you can access online urgent care with K Health? Check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and if needed, text with a healthcare provider in minutes. K Health’s AI-powered app is based on 20 years of clinical data.

Frequently Asked Questions

At what point should you go to the doctor for a UTI?
Seek medical attention from a licensed medical provider as soon as you experience consistent symptoms of a UTI, especially painful urination, frequent urination, or abdominal discomfort.
When should I go to the doctor for a UTI?
It’s important to speak with a medical provider when you’re having consistent symptoms of a UTI, especially painful urination or a burning sensation while urinating. Speaking with a medical provider can help determine what type of infection you have (if any) and what kind of treatment will work to clear the infection. Delaying treatment for a UTI can result in the infection spreading to the kidneys, which is a more serious condition and can be life-threatening.
How do I know if my UTI is serious?
Most UTIs are not serious and can be easily treated with antibiotics. However, certain symptoms can indicate a more severe infection, including: upper back and side pain, high fever, chills or shaking, blood in urine, and muscle aches in the lower abdomen. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
What happens if you have a UTI and don’t go to the doctor?
Delaying treatment when you have a UTI can allow the infection to spread to the kidneys, which can be a serious health condition. This is why it’s important to speak with a medical provider as soon as you experience symptoms consistent with a UTI.

K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Jennifer Nadel, MD

Dr. Jennifer Nadel is a board certified emergency medicine physician and received her medical degree from the George Washington University School of Medicine. She has worked in varied practice environments, including academic urban level-one trauma centers, community hospital emergency departments, skilled nursing facilities, telemedicine, EMS medical control, and flight medicine.

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