Why Some UTIs Can Be Treated Virtually And Others Can't

Virtual medicine has progressed in leaps and bounds out of necessity because of the pandemic. Shutdowns are no longer a concern, but many people have found that virtual appointments are very helpful on a practical level. No more parking woes, no more waiting with others who may be sick and coughing—staying at home and talking to a doctor or nurse online can be so much safer in that respect. For people with urgent conditions like UTIs, virtual health is now a possibility. There will be people who still need to see a doctor in person, but others can benefit from virtual treatment, especially if they know exactly what's going on.

Prior Experience Counts for a Lot

If you have a history of UTIs, know the symptoms, know why you got it, and know what antibiotic clears it up, you're a pretty good candidate for virtual treatment if you get another UTI. Prior experience and good records count, and if there are no contraindications, a virtual appointment and prescription for your situation should be OK. When there is a clear indication of how the UTI should be treated, virtual visits can be just as effective as in-person visits.

If this is your first UTI, however, you might be referred to an in-person appointment. The doctor does not want to misdiagnose you, and without prior experience on your part and no prior records, an in-person appointment is better.

Repeated UTIs With No Known Link

If you get frequent UTIs that don't appear to have a common link—for example, you take care of yourself as best you can, and you have no health conditions that have frequent UTIs as a symptom—that's when you need to switch to in-person visits. You may have another undiagnosed health issue that's making UTIs more likely for you, or you could have interstitial cystitis, a chronic condition whose most common symptoms mimic UTIs.

Once that situation has been investigated in greater detail, you might be able to go back to using virtual visits for UTIs. Maybe you do have another health condition that makes UTIs more likely, and with those records, the physician helping you at the virtual appointment now has a road map for your treatment.

Antibiotic Issues

Prescribing antibiotics can be difficult when you take bacteria types into account. That does not mean you can't get antibiotics prescribed through a virtual exam for a UTI. However, it does put some restrictions on who can get these online prescriptions. If you had a prescription for antibiotics for a UTI that did not work, for example, another virtual appointment would be good for consultation, but you'd really need to go see a doctor in person and have a urine test done. In your situation, your infection might be caused by bacteria that don't respond well to the antibiotic you had. The doctor would need to have the bacteria identified to find out which antibiotics would work.

On the other hand, if you do know what antibiotics work for your infection because you had one like it last year, the physician helping you during the virtual appointment can prescribe those again, barring anything unusual.

For more information about virtual UTI treatment, contact a medical center in your area.