Alka-Seltzer for Urinary Tract Infections

Antibiotics are required to kill the bacteria that cause UTI.
Antibiotics are required to kill the bacteria that cause UTI. (Image: Image by, courtesy of Umberto Salvagnin)

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a bacterial infection of the urethra or bladder. Many over-the-counter remedies have been proposed for treating UTI, one being the popular heartburn medicine Alka-Seltzer. While it can ease the painful symptoms of UTI, Alka-Seltzer is ineffective in treating the infection itself.

UTI Signs and Symptoms

While bacteria are the primary cause of UTI, other factors like dehydration and improper hygiene can aggravate the condition.

Symptoms of urinary tract infection include pain in the abdomen or lower back, fever and fatigue. Frequent, burning urination is among the most agonizing symptoms of UTI and is what sends most sufferers to the doctor.

Physical signs of UTI include dark, concentrated urine, fever and blood in the urine. The only way to be certain an infection is present is by having the urine tested for bacteria, which can be done in your doctor's office in many cases.

Benefits of Alka-Seltzer for UTI

Many anecdotal accounts exist for the effectiveness of Alka-Seltzer as a treatment for UTI. Because it contains aspirin, Alka-Seltzer can help ease pain in the bladder and urethra caused by burning urination. The sodium bicarbonate present in Alka- Seltzer also helps reduce the acidity of urine, which in turn decreases pain. Furthermore, Alka-Seltzer is relatively cheap and easily obtainable, making it an attractive potential remedy for UTI.

Drawbacks of Alka-Seltzer for UTI

Despite the relief it can bring, Alka-Seltzer is not an effective remedy for UTI. According to, there is no evidence that Alka-Seltzer can prevent the progression of UTI. What’s more, the painkilling effects of Alka-Seltzer can give the illusion that the infection is gone when it’s actually multiplying and spreading to the kidneys.

While Alka-Seltzer is readily available over the counter, it has the potential to cause unwanted side effects. Commonly reported side effects include stomach pain, vomiting, allergic skin reactions and diarrhea. Because it contains aspirin, Alka-Seltzer is also capable of causing gastrointestinal bleeding, Reye's syndrome and other dangerous conditions associated with NSAID medications.

The Verdict

While it may work for temporary symptom relief, Alka-Seltzer is not an adequate treatment for UTI. At this time, prescription antibiotics are the only proven method of killing the bacteria that cause bladder infection. While it’s possible to safely use Alka-Seltzer to manage your symptoms, a doctor’s visit is necessary to obtain the medications needed to cure the infection.


Left untreated, UTI can progress to kidney infection, which can cause kidney damage, sepsis or even death. If you have symptoms of a UTI, seek medical attention to avoid potentially life-threatening complications.

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