The urethra is a narrow tube that carries urine out of the body. It also carries semen in men. Bacteria, viruses or fungi can cause an infection of the lining of the urethra, also known as urethritis, characterized by burning and painful urination along with unusual discharge from the vagina or the penis. The goal of treatment is to improve the symptoms and cure the infection. All the sexual partners of the patient should also be treated. With accurate diagnosis and treatment, the condition can be cured completely.
Antibiotics are the drugs of choice to cure urethritis caused by bacteria. A doctor may initially prescribe a broad-spectrum antibiotic that is effective against a variety of bacteria. A more specific drug that acts against the particular causative organism may be prescribed once the laboratory test results are available.
Azithromycin and doxycycline are the most common antibiotics used to treat urethritis. They are usually administered orally and the duration of therapy may last for about 7 days. In case of gonococcal urethritis, a cephalosporin, such as ceftriaxone or cefixime, may be added along with azithromycin. Traditionally, fluoroquinolones have also be used to treat urethritis, especially gonococcal urethritis. However, the John Hopkins Point of Care Information Technology Center states that more than 25 percent strains of Neisseria gonorrhoeae are resistant to fluoroquinolones. Metronidazole, tinidazole and erythromycin are three antibiotics commonly used to treat recurrent urethritis.
The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends antioxidant rich foods, healthy cooking oils, multivitamins, probiotic supplements and grape food seed extract to treat urethritis. Most of these methods improve immunity and help the body fight the microorganisms that cause infections of the urethra. Avoiding coffee, alcohol, tobacco, trans fatty acids, and refined foods can also help to improve the overall health of the patient.
A doctor may prescribe pain relievers, such as phenazopyridine, to relieve the symptoms of urinary pain, burning and discomfort that are frequently associated with urethritis. It is important to note that these drugs do not cure the infection; they only provide relief from the symptoms. Phenazopyridine is available in tablet form and is usually taken three times a day. Common side effects include headache, dizziness and upset stomach.
Consumption of large amounts of fluids, especially water, can help with the treatment of many urinary tract infections including urethritis. Doctors generally recommend drinking at least 8 to 10 glasses of water per day. This excess water helps to flush out the microorganisms causing the infection.