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Can Alka Seltzer Cure UTI?



A Urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the urinary system. It often involves the bladder but more serious infections can involve the kidneys as well. UTIs occur when bacteria make their way into the urinary system through the urethra. Women are more likely to suffer from a UTI than men. In fact, 50 percent of all women will develop a UTI at some point during their lifetime. Symptoms of UTI include urge to urinate, frequent urination and burning or discomfort upon urination. Some also experience small amounts of blood in the urine.

You may have heard the rumor; that taking two Alka-Seltzer at the first sign of a UTI will stop the infection in its tracks. The idea is that the sodium bicarbonate in the Alka-Seltzer will alkalinize the urine. In other words, the Alka-Seltzer makes the urine more basic as opposed to more acidic. This creates an environment that the bacteria do not like. So is this rumor true? Experts are not convinced.

So far, studies have failed to show that Alka-Seltzer has any affect on the progression of UTI. Therefore it is important to see your doctor if you experience any symptoms of UTI. When treated promptly, UTIs do not typically cause complications. However, if not treated promptly, serious complications can occur. For example, the infection can spread to the kidneys where if not treated, it can cause permanent damage. 

So how do we treat UTI? For most young, healthy people, a short course of antibiotics will do the trick. Drugs most commonly used to treat UTI include nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin), sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim (Bactrim) and amoxicillin (Amoxil). Which antibiotic your doctor chooses for you will depend on the type of bacteria found in your urine and any other health conditions or allergies you may have.  It is important to continue your antibiotics for the full course of treatment, even if you start to feel better before the treatment is finished. Stopping your antibiotics early encourages the growth of drug-resistant bacteria. For severe UTIs, it may be necessary to receive treatment with intravenous (IV) antibiotics. 

There are things you can do to prevent UTIs from happening in the first place. Drinking plenty of water and urinating right after sexual intercourse will help keep the urethra clear of bacteria. Also, wiping from ‘front to back’ after using the restroom will help keep bacteria from the anus from spreading to the urethra.

When dealing with serious conditions like infections, it is often better to stick with time-tested, evidence-based therapies. If you chose not to use evidence-based medicine when treating UTI, you run the risk of experiencing serious complications and even permanent damage to the kidneys. Talk with your doctor before starting any therapy for UTI to ensure you get the most out of your treatment.


Author: Christi Larson, Pharm. D.

Dr. Larson is a Clinical Infusion Pharmacist and author of Empowered Medicine; A Guide for Consumers . Get your copy of this one-of-a-kind medication reference NOW and find out if YOUR doctor is following the guidelines.




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