- A urinary tract infection (UTI) is any type of infection that occurs in your urinary system. This includes infections in your uterus, kidneys, urethra, and bladder. Most infections occur in women and in the lower tract — the bladder and urethra.
- Infections in the bladder can be annoying and uncomfortable; however, serious consequences can occur if the infection spreads to your kidneys.
- There are several diagnostic tests for UTIs. However, doctors typically treat UTIs with antibiotics. Mira’s secondary research indicates that the cost of UTI treatment ranges from $250-500
- This article aims to help you understand whether or not you should seek treatment for a UTI at an urgent care clinic and how to avoid high costs when doing so.
In this piece our research team gathered information from the following experts:
Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, FACOG, double board-certified in OB/GYN and Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Director of Perinatal Services at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln.
Dr. Jenna Liphart Rhoads BSN, MS, and Ph.D., nurse, educator, and writer at NurseTogether.
Can I go to urgent care for a UTI? Yes, urgent care is a great option
If you are experiencing a medical emergency due to a UTI, you should immediately seek treatment from an emergency room.
However, if you are not experiencing a medical emergency, and are experiencing symptoms, visiting an urgent care center may be the right choice for you.
Many urgent care centers offer UTI treatment as one of their services. The following urgent care clinics offer treatment for UTIs:
- ProHealth Circle Urgent Care
- GoHealth Urgent Care
- PhysicianOne Urgent Care
- RapidMed Urgent Care
- MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care
- Physicians Immediate Care
Important information to know about UTIs
UTIs are 10x more common in women than men
Women have a shorter urethra than men, making it easier for bacteria to travel up to the bladder and multiply.
However, men still suffer from UTIs as they age, but at a smaller rate when compared to women.
Many factors can cause UTIs
While unprotected sex can cause a UTI, anything that may upset the natural flora of the urinary tract can then lead to a urinary tract infection. Some examples include dehydration, holding in your pee, hygiene products, and more.
Not all vaginal irritation will be a UTI
Other diseases have similar symptoms to UTIs.
For example, yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis may lead to vaginal itchiness, irregular discharge, or blood in the urine, this however is rare for a UTI to cause.
What are the symptoms of a UTI?
Symptoms of UTIs include, but are not limited to:
- Pain when urinating
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Blood in your urine
- Strong urge to urinate often.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you might consider seeking a diagnostic test for a UTI. Once you receive a diagnosis, your healthcare provider can advise you on your options moving forward. If you conduct an at-home UTI test and it comes back positive, you should seek care from a doctor.
Dr. Gaither says, “if you suspect that you have a UTI, it’s best to have it evaluated and treated with antibiotic by a health provider. Complications of an untreated UTI with the appropriate antibiotics include pyelonephritis (kidney infection) sepsis (overwhelming bacterial infection) and possibly death”.
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How are UTIs diagnosed?
According to Dr. Gaither, in order to diagnose a UTI, “a physical exam will be done, a sample of urine for analysis-- if suspicion exists for pyelonephritis /kidney stone a renal ultrasound will be done. The patient will be initiated on an antibiotic-- if the urine culture reveals that the bacteria is resistant to the particular antibiotic that has been prescribed it will be changed. An urgent care facility, as well as a physician’s office, should be able to handle the diagnosis and treatment of a UTI.”
UTIs can be diagnosed using several methods. Analysis of urine samples, growing UTI bacteria in a lab, imaging your urinary tract, and using a scope to see inside your bladder are most common.
Although all of these tests are used to determine if you have a UTI, the type of test that you receive can affect your out-of-pocket cost
How are UTIs treated?
Treatment for UTIs depends on the severity of your infection. Simple infections tend to consist of some pain and discomfort in your urinary tract.
Below we list some of the common treatments for simple infections, frequent infections, and severe infections. Ultimately, your health care provider will determine what treatment course is best for you.
- Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra, others)
- Fosfomycin (Monurol)
- Nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin, Macrobid)
- Cephalexin (Keflex)
*These are the names of common antibiotics used to treat UTIs. In general, patients will take these antibiotics for 3-7 days to treat a UTI.
- Low-dose antibiotics, initially for six months but sometimes longer
- Self-diagnosis and treatment, if you stay in touch with your doctor
- A single dose of an antibiotic after sexual intercourse if your infections are related to sexual activity
- Vaginal estrogen therapy if you're postmenopausal
- Intravenous antibiotics in a hospital
Can I treat a UTI at home? How can I prevent UTIs?
Dr. Rhoads says people who have frequent or persistent urinary tract infections may want to try these tips at home which aid in the prevention and treatment of UTIs
- Drink plenty of water- frequent emptying of the urinary bladder will flush bacteria and other microbes out of the urethra. Also, diluted urine will be less painful to excrete than concentrated urine.
- Drink cranberry juice – cranberry juice is naturally very acidic, and the acidity of the juice will aid in the elimination of bacteria and other microbes in the urinary tract that is causing an infection.
- Empty your bladder completely and frequently – the longer the urine is present in the bladder and urethra the more time the bacteria and microbes present have to grow and multiply
** These are suggestions to use alongside your doctor's treatment plan, not to replace any medical advice.
How much does it cost to get a UTI treated at urgent care?
When seeking treatment for a UTI, your total out-of-pocket cost will depend on several factors listed below.
- Insurance Status
- Type of Insurance
- Type of UTI Diagnostic Test
- Additional Diagnostic Tests
- Prescription Medication / Drugs
- Office Visit + Administrative Fees
Mira’s research indicates that the price of the UTI test alone can exceed $80. In addition, antibiotic treatments for UTIs can be as much as $300.
Along with administrative fees as well as other diagnostic tests, seeking treatment for a UTI at an urgent care clinic may cost you hundreds of dollars.
What can I do to avoid high costs when seeking treatment for a UTI?
Seeking help from urgent care can be expensive and non-transparent. There are several options that can help you reduce your out-of-pocket cost — especially if you do not have insurance or your insurance has high deductibles.
Several pharmacies, such as Walgreens, CVS, and Publix, offer at-home UTI testing kits. These kits are approximately $15 and provide results in under five minutes.
If you think you have a UTI but do not want to go to urgent care to get diagnosed, these testing kits exist as an alternative.
If you test positive using an at-home kit, you should seek medical attention in order to get properly treated. If you test negative but you continue to experience symptoms, you may want to be seen by a health care provider to help determine the cause of your symptoms.
With Mira, your $99 co-pay will cover your entire urgent care visit. For just $45 a month, you will have access to hundreds of urgent care clinics, 80% off prescriptions, and affordable lab testing.
Outlined below are several questions you can ask the team at the urgent care clinic that might help you save money.
- How much is the total out-of-pocket cost?
- How much is the diagnostic test for a UTI?
- How much is the treatment for a UTI?
- Are there administrative fees or fees for seeing a provider?
- Is one type of medicine cheaper than another?
- Is one type of diagnostic test cheaper than another?
- What are my alternatives?
Please note that the information in this article is meant to equip you with the information to decide for yourself whether or not to seek medical treatment for a possible UTI. Mira’s Research Team does not consist of medical professionals. If you have specific questions regarding your medical situation, you should contact a healthcare provider.