There are plenty of UTI over the counter products but the only FDA approved treatment for a urinary tract infection is an antibiotic.
But what if you can’t get your hands on the right antibiotic immediately? Or stuck in a middle of nowhere and can’t see a doctor right away?
There are some great options for you to supplement your UTI treatment with a product available without a prescription.
You can also implement couple hacks to make your symptoms more manageable.
There are two groups of UTI Over The Counter Products available without a receipt.
- The First group is the products that reduce symptoms but do not cure the infection (made by big pharmaceutical companies).
- The Second group of products are natural remedies that you probably won’t find in a pharmacy store, but rather in Whole Foods Market, Sprouts store or online on Amazon.
- The Third group is the supplements that I review in this post that could help you to prevent UTI from recurring.
If you decide to experiment with any UTI over the counter treatment, remember the following:
- Go to the doctor if the symptoms do not disappear in two days
- Or if you experience back pain, nausea or chills (fever).
If you have any of the following, do not attempt to self-treat a UTI and see a doctor:
- If you have any chronic health issues
- Any disease of kidneys or bladder
- If you are pregnant
- Or if trying to help a young child with a UTI
It’s not worth the risk.
In most cases, antibiotics are required to kill the bacteria that cause a urinary tract infection. If left untreated, a UTI can spread to your kidneys or enter your bloodstream.
This can require hospitalization and IV medication to save your life.
Infections that spread to the kidneys can cause permanent damage and even life-endangering sepsis.
#1 AZO test strips
Before you go wasting your money on everything else, make sure it is actually a UTI. AZO test strips are the same ones that your doctor uses in a clinic. Get them to verify that what you have is a UTI.
Also, use them after completing your treatment to verify that it was successful. Make sure to test your urine before taking AZO or Cystex pills because they might affect the accuracy of the test: AZO Urinary Tract Infection Test Strips, 3-Count Box.
If your test is negative, but you are still experiencing UTI symptoms, most likely you still have a UTI.
It’s important though to differentiate between UTI and pain in the bladder and urethra that could be caused by inflammation, especially if this is not your first UTI.
UTI Over The Counter Products that Relieve UTI Symptoms
#2 AZO Urinary Pain Relief® Maximum Strength Tablets
AZO Urinary Pain Relief® Maximum Strength Tablets, unfortunately, has nothing to help fight the infection, it only masks the symptoms. Do not take it for longer than two days. If you “cover up” your symptoms, you might not notice that your disease is progressing.
Phenazopyridine is also responsible for the bright orange color of urine, that also serves as an indication that the medicine has reached your bladder. Make sure to not wear white underwear and (!) contact lenses, since this active ingredient can permanently discolor them.
Some animal studies demonstrate a possible link between phenazopyridine and cancer in female rats. “Phenazopyridine hydrochloride is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity from studies in experimental animals” according to National Toxicology program report.
AZO Urinary Pain Relief® Maximum Strength Tablets contains 97.5 mg of Phenazopyridine per dose.
#3 AZO Urinary Pain Relief®
Similar to the previous product by AZO, this one contains Phenazopyridine as an active ingredient, just a lower dose (95 mg).
Therefore, AZO Urinary Pain Relief has the same side effects and method of action. It is also purely analgesic, no antimicrobial ingredient, just different price and less Phenazopyridine per doze. No other ingredients that add value and possible carcinogenic effects.
UTI Over The Counter Products that help treating UTI
#4 AZO Urinary Tract Defense™
This is a relatively new over-the-counter drug that has appeared in 2016 in pharmacies all over the USA and also could be ordered on Amazon.
Once you swallow it, Methenamine (main active ingredient), will work by slowing down the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the urinary tract.
When exposed to acidic urine, Methenamine turns into formaldehyde to kill the bacteria, but it’s not strong enough to eliminate an infection completely. It can’t promise to cure an active infection but will slow down its progress.
Azo Urinary Tract Defense has been created to prevent UTIs, as well as to provide a quick relief at the first signs of infection.
On top of it, it’s analgesic is Sodium salicylate that also acts as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).
Taking an NSAID could help to reduce inflammation while fighting bladder infection. This analgesic will not change the color of your urine and is not linked to cancer.
Quick Tip: In order for Azo Urinary Tract Defense to work better, you’d need acidic urine. For that take Ascorbic Acid together with the drug.
An alternative to Azo Urinary Tract Defense in Canada, Europe, or Australia is Hiprex, that works in the similar fashion.
#5 Cystex Urinary Pain Relief Tablets
Cystex Urinary Pain Relief Tablets is yet another product that contains Methenamine, and therefore works in the same way as Azo Urinary Tract Defence.
The dose of Methenamine in both products is identical (162 mg) and both contain the same amount of Sodium salicylate (which is a sodium salt of salicylic acid).
Cystex Urinary Pain Relief Tablets will not change the color of the urine as some other OTC medications.
#6 Cystex With Cranberry
This is a tricky product that has some useful ingredients alongside with marketing gimmicks.
Cystex with cranberry has the following ingredients: Cranberry Concentrate, D-Mannose, Sodium Ascorbate and Ascorbic Acid (as sources of Vitamin C), FOS and Bromelain.
Other ingredients: filtered water, glycerin, malic acid, l-glutathione, natural fruit and vegetable color, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate (preservatives), sucralose, ethyl maltol.
I would recommend buying Cystex mainly because it has D-Mannose and it’s not easy to find D-mannose in a conventional pharmacy. So if this is your only option, go for it.
I personally do not fancy that it contains sucralose and preservatives. Plus I’m not sure how much D-Mannose they actually add. All this makes it a very expensive and questionable D-Mannose cocktail.
Haven’t heard of D-Mannose? Here is my interview with Dr. Wright, who was the first physician in the USA to discover D-Mannose and regularly prescribes it to his patients since the 1980s.
Alternative OTC products for UTI treatment supplementation
When the infection starts, your bladder responds with an inflammation, that’s why you experience pain and urgency.
Ibuprofen has analgesic and inflammatory properties and it’s argued, could help you to cope with the symptoms while your body fights the infection.
Couple studies (here and here) demonstrated great results when a patient used Ibuprofen to treat uncomplicated UTIs. Patients that had success with this treatment took 400 mg three times a day, for three days.
However, while some patients were able to resolve their infection with NSAIDs, the rate of kidney infections in the group that was using Ibuprofen was higher.
Pay attention to any flank pain if taking Ibuprofen as a UTI over the counter treatment. Remember, If you choose to self-treat a UTI with an NSAID you might be at a higher risk of kidney infection.
#6 D-Mannose: a natural UTI over the counter treatment supplement
D-Mannose is a naturally acquiring sugar that is safe to take, has almost no side effects and you can start taking it immediately since it is available as a UTI over the counter supplement.
D-Mannose works by adhering to E. coli bacteria and making it easier for you to flush it out.
Pro Tip: D-Mannose could work only if your UTI caused by E. coli bacteria. There is no 100% guarantee that D-Mannose would help you, it is considered a supplement, not an OTC drug.
While not every pharmacy sells D-Mannose, you can definitely find it in holistic pharmacies and stores that sell organic food and supplements (see Where to buy D-Mannose).
Allicin, isolated from garlic essential oil, has potency against bacterial biofilms and demonstrated broad antibacterial activity.
Every pharmacy has garlic supplements. And if you can’t find any, head towards a grocery store and buy raw garlic instead.
Raw garlic is as effective as a supplement and requires no prescription.
Pro Tip: If you are using raw garlic, make sure to smash it well, only then it would release Allicin. Also, make sure to take garlic with food. You can take it before, after or during a meal but do not take it when you are fasting.
Read about garlic dose for UTI and precautions when using garlic to supplement your UTI treatment.
#8 UTI E-Drops (aka E-Drops Nano)
UTI E-Drops is a European product, it has been on the market in Central and Eastern Europe since the early 1980th.
In December 2017, after three years of checking supporting data, Health Canada approved E-Drops Nano for distribution in North America.
This product made of food grade essential oils of Juniper, Lavender, Eucalyptus and Fir needle. According to the manufacturer E-Drops Nano elixir “works against tough strains of E.coli that antibiotics sometimes can’t help”.
#9 Homeopathic UTI over the counter treatment
Homeopathy treats a whole patient, not a symptom. If you ask a homeopath, they prefer to prescribe remedies based on individual patient assessment, not just isolated symptoms. Therefore, a homeopathic doctor would prefer to prescribe you a remedy uniquely addressing your individual health ailments.
Purchasing an off the shelf remedy considered not as effective as taking the one designed specifically for you.
However, there are several widely recognized homeopathic UTI over the counter remedies readily available. Many naturopathic doctors find the following remedies helpful for their patients with UTI symptoms.
Advised for those who experience a constant strong urging to urinate with a sharp pain right before and after peeing. Other symptoms include feeling a full bladder while peeing produce only couple drops.
This remedy is advised for those who feel a strong urge to urinate. Other symptoms are burning or cramping pain in the bladder area, with an itching sensation while the urine passes.
Other notables symptoms include irritability, impatience and feeling cold. This remedy is great if your symptoms are relieved by hot baths or hot bottle applied to your lower abdomen.
This remedy is often useful in cystitis and often helps when symptoms are unclear, or if other remedies have not been effective.
Other Over The Counter Products For UTI Prevention
Other options include products that do not directly affect a progress of an acute infection, but could help you to prevent UTI in the future:
- Special probiotics to restore vaginal flora
- Topical estrogen
- Herbal supplements to promote bladder health
- Pumpkin seed oil to aid in healing bladder and prostate
- Bacterial biofilm-fighting molecules
However, it is crucial to address the main reason why UTI happened in the first place. There are multiple factors that could make you more prone to UTIs, such as contraceptive methods (a certain type of condoms, lube, IUD), diseases that affect vagina health (BV or yeast infection) etc.
Therefore, a holistic approach to UTI prevention if more important than just treating an acute infection.