UTI (Urinary Tract Infection)
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A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of the urinary system. UTIs are common infections that happen when bacteria, often from the skin or rectum, enter the urethra and infect the urinary tract.
Women are at greater risk of developing a UTI than men. If an infection is limited to the bladder, it can be painful and annoying. But serious health problems can result if a UTI spreads to the kidneys.
Table of Contents:
Symptoms and Causes
How is UTI spread?
UTIs typically occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to spread in the bladder. Risk factors that can increase the risk of UTIs:
A previous UTI
Changes in the bacteria that live inside the vagina, or vaginal flora. For example, menopause or the use of spermicides can cause these bacterial changes.
Age (older adults and young children are more likely to get UTIs)
Structural problems in the urinary tract, such as enlarged prostate
Poor hygiene, for example, in children who are potty-training
Symptoms of a bladder infection can include:
Pain or burning while urinating
Feeling the need to urinate despite having an empty bladder
Pressure or cramping in the groin or lower abdomen
Symptoms of a kidney infection can include:
Lower back pain or pain in the side of your back
Nausea or vomiting
When to see a doctor?
Talk to your healthcare professional if you have symptoms of a UTI or any symptom that is severe or concerning.
Younger children may not be able to tell you about the UTI symptoms they are having. While fever is the most common sign of UTI in infants and toddlers, most children with a fever do not have a UTI. If you have concerns that your child may have a UTI, talk to a healthcare professional.
Diagnosis and treatment
Diagnosis (tests; screening, urinalysis, etc)
Your healthcare professional will determine if you have a UTI by:
Asking about symptoms
Doing a physical exam
Ordering urine tests, if needed
Tests and procedures used to diagnose urinary tract infections include:
Analyzing a urine sample.
Growing urinary tract bacteria in a lab.
Creating images of the urinary tract.
Using a scope to see inside the bladder
Treatment (medication; treatment follow-up)
Antibiotics are usually the first treatment for urinary tract infections. Your health and the type of bacteria found in your urine determine which medicine is used and how long you need to take it. If you have frequent UTIs, your healthcare provider may recommend:
Low-dose antibiotics. You might take them for six months or longer.
Diagnosing and treating yourself when symptoms occur. You'll also be asked to stay in touch with your provider.
Taking a single dose of antibiotic after sex if s are related to sexual activity
Preparing for your appointment
Your primary care provider, nurse practitioner, or other health care provider can treat most UTIs. If you have frequent UTIs or a chronic kidney infection, you may be referred to a healthcare provider, called a urologist, who specializes in urinary disorders. Alternatively, you may see a healthcare provider, called a nephrologist, who specializes in kidney disorders.
To get ready for your appointment:
Ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as collecting a urine sample.
Take note of your symptoms, even if you're not sure that they're related to UTI
Make a list of all the medicines, vitamins, or other supplements that you take.
Write down questions to ask your healthcare provider.
For a UTI, basic questions to ask your provider include:
What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
Are there any other possible causes?
Do I need any tests to confirm the diagnosis?
What factors do you think may have contributed to my UTI?
What treatment approach do you recommend?
If the first treatment doesn't work, what will you recommend next?
Am I at risk of complications from this condition?
What is the risk that this problem will come back?
What steps can I take to lower the risk of the infection coming back?
Should I see a specialist?
What to expect from your doctor
Your healthcare provider will likely ask you several questions, including:
When did you first notice your symptoms?
Have you ever been treated for a bladder or kidney infection?
How severe is your discomfort?
How often do you urinate?
Are your symptoms relieved by urinating?
Do you have low back pain?
Have you had a fever?
Have you noticed vaginal discharge or blood in your urine?
Are you sexually active?
Do you use contraception? What kind?
Could you be pregnant?
Are you being treated for any other medical conditions?
Have you ever used a catheter?