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How Effective Is Cephalexin for a UTI?

By B. Chisholm
Updated Feb 10, 2024
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Depending on the organism involved, cephalexin for a UTI may be very effective. There is a broad range of organisms which may cause a urinary tract infection (UTI) and the choice of treatment will be made according to this. To determine the organism involved, a urine sample will be sent to the lab for culture and sensitivity testing. Cephalexin is available in most countries by prescription only and may be known by different trade names, according to manufacturer.

Urinary tract infections are seen commonly, especially in women, and may present with discomfort or burning on urination, frequency of urination, abdominal pain and fever. They may occur in the lower urinary tract and be uncomplicated or in the upper urinary tract or be complicated. Medical attention should be sought urgently if a UTI is suspected to ensure the correct treatment is obtained and to prevent the infection from getting worse.

There are a number of different organisms which may cause a UTI and the choice of antibiotic will depend on this. In some cases a broad-spectrum antibiotic will be prescribed, without the need for testing for an organism but, in other cases, sensitivity testing will be done on the urine and the choice of antibiotic will be decided accordingly. Resistance to some antibiotics has developed in some UTI-causing organisms.

When using cephalexin for a UTI, it is usually given orally, either as a tablet, capsule or syrup. The dose is typically between one and two grams per day, divided into four doses throughout the day, but this may increase in the case of severe infections. It is important to stick to the prescribed dose and dosage regimen and to complete the full course of cephalexin, even if symptoms have resolved. Stopping a course of antibiotics before it is finished may result in resistance and difficulty treating should the infection recur.

As with any medication, side effects may occur when using cephalexin for a UTI. These may include gastrointestinal effects such as diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, headache and dizziness. Any negative side effects should be discussed with the doctor or pharmacist.

Interactions with other medications may occur when using cephalexin. Any other medications, including over-the-counter, homeopathic and complementary medications should be discussed with the prescribing doctor, as should any underlying clinical conditions. Cephalexin for a UTI may be very effective if the causative organism is sensitive to the antibiotic.

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Discussion Comments
By stoneMason — On Jun 29, 2013

Cephalexin worked great for me. I had a UTI that I'm sure I got from the dorm bathroom. Cephalexin treated the symptoms in just five days.

By SarahGen — On Jun 28, 2013

@ankara-- You can't just select a random group of antibiotics to treat your UTI. Your doctor prescribed cephalexin to you for a reason. It's because you have a type of bacterial infection that cephalexin is effective against. If cephalexin isn't working, then only your doctor can determine which other drug will treat your infection.

Antibiotics are formulated to work against different groups of bacteria. They can't be used for one another at whim.

By bluedolphin — On Jun 27, 2013

I'm sure cephalexin is an effective drug but it didn't work for me. I might have developed tolerance to it.

My doctor found UTI from my urine tests and gave me cephalexin. It felt like it worked and my symptoms went away for a short while. But a few weeks later, I started experiencing urinary urgency, burning and foul odor again.

I'm seeing my doctor again tomorrow. I'm going to ask for a sulfamethoxazole group medication. I heard this group is very effective for UTIs.

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