Urinary Tract Infection (UTI): Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Medically Reviewed by Checkmark Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Sravanthi Sunkaraneni
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Last Updated on May 5, 2023 by Shabnam Sengupta

A urinary tract infection targets any part of the urinary system, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. The bladder and urethra are the more commonly infected components of the urinary tract. Women have greater chances than men of having a urinary tract infection. Bladder infection can be both painful and uneasy. If a UTI spreads to kidneys it usually causes significant issues. Antibiotics are usually used to handle urinary tract infections. Symptoms of Lower urinary tract infection include pain while passing urine, frequent urination, and the need to urinate even while having an empty bladder. The symptoms of an upper UTI, when the kidney is involved, can be fever and flank pain. Urine may sometimes seem bloody. Symptoms in the elderly and the very young can be absent or non-specific. 

Escherichia coli bacteria are the most common cause of the urinary tract infection, other bacteria or fungus can also result in infection.  Anatomy of the women, sexuality, diabetes, obesity, and family history are all the risk factors for urinary tract infection. Sexual activity is a risk factor, but urinary tract infections are not considered as sexually transmitted infections. Kidney infection mostly follows a bladder infection; however it can also result on its own.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of urinary tract infections are not always present, but when they are, they may include:

  1. Urge to urinate that is strong and persistent
  2. Urinating with a burning sensation
  3. Urine passing in little amounts on a regular basis
  4. Urine that has a hazy appearance
  5. Urine that is red, bright pink or cola-colored indicates that there is blood in it.
  6. Urine with a strong odor
  7. Pelvic discomfort, especially in the middle of the pelvis and around the pubic bone, is common in women. 

Causes

Bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and multiply in the bladder, resulting in urinary tract infections. The urinary system is designed to keep such small invaders out; these defenses do not always work.

  1. Urinary tract infection of bladder (cystitis). Escherichia coli (E. coli), a kind of bacteria typically found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, are the most prevalent cause of this form of UTI. Other bacteria, on the other hand, are sometimes responsible.
  2. Urinary tract infection of urethra (urethritis). When GI bacteria moves from the anus to the urethra, this kind of UTI develops. Sexually transmitted illnesses like herpes, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, and mycoplasma can also induce urethritis since the female urethra is so close to the vagina.

Risk Factors

These factors may raise the likelihood of getting the infection or its complications:

  1. Anatomy of a woman: A woman’s urethra is shorter than a man’s; reducing the distance bacteria must travel to reach the bladder.
  2. Sexual activity: UTIs are more common in sexually active women. Having a new sexual partner raises your risk as well.
  3. Certain types of birth control are available: Women, who use diaphragms for birth control, as well as those who use spermicidal drugs, may be at a higher risk.
  4. Menopause: A decrease in circulating estrogen after menopause causes changes in the urinary tract, making you more susceptible to infection. 
  5. Anomalies of the urinary tract. UTIs are usually common in babies born with urinary tract issues that prevent urine from leaving the body normally or cause urine to back up in the urethra.
  6. An immune system that is inhibited: UTIs can be exacerbated by diabetes and other conditions that affect the immune system, the body’s natural defense against microorganisms.
  7. Use of a catheter: UTIs are more common in those who can’t urinate on their own and urinate through a tube (catheter). This could include people who are in the hospital, people who have neurological issues that make it difficult to control their urination.

Complications

A urinary tract infection if left untreated, might have significant complications.

  1. Recurrent infections, particularly in women who have had two or more UTIs in six months or four or more in a year.
  2. Acute or chronic kidney infection caused by an untreated UTI can cause permanent kidney damage.
  3. Pregnant mothers are more likely to have low birth weight or preterm babies.
  4. Men with recurrent urethritis can have urethral narrowing (stricture), which was previously recognized with gonococcal urethritis.
  5. Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening infection complication that occurs when an infection spreads from your urinary tract to your kidneys.

Diagnosis

  1. A urine sample can be used to detect UTIs. Under a microscope, the urine is examined for bacteria or white blood cells, both of which are symptoms of the urinary tract infection. A urine culture usually taken by the doctor. This is a test that looks for bacteria and yeast in the urine that could be causing a UTI.
  2. A UTI can cause blood in the urine, but it could also be the result of another urinary tract issue.
  3. If you have a fever and symptoms of a UTI, or if your symptoms don’t go away despite treatment, you should see a doctor.

Treatment

  1. Basic UTI can be treated with antibiotics for a short period of time. Most uncomplicated UTIs can be treated with a three-day course of a suitable antibiotic. However, some infections may require additional treatment. Even if the pain and need to urinate go away after a few doses, you should still finish the antibiotic course to ensure that the UTI is completely addressed. UTIs might recur if they are not properly treated.
  2. If the UTI is serious, antibiotics are prescribed for a prolonged period of time. In some cases, antibiotics are administered intravenously (IV) in the hospital. Antibiotics are given by mouth for up to a month after a brief course of IV antibiotics.

Prevention

  1. Drink plenty of water and other beverages. Drinking water dilutes your urine and encourages you to urinate more frequently, allowing bacteria in your urinary system to be cleared out before an illness develops.
  2. Cranberry juice: Although research on cranberry juice’s ability to prevent UTIs is inconclusive, it is unlikely to be hazardous.
  3. Wipe from front to back: After urinating and having a bowel movement, to avoid bacteria from spreading from the anal region to the vagina and urethra.
  4. After intercourse, empty your bladder as soon as possible. Additionally, drink a full glass of water to aid in the flushing of bacteria.
  5. Avoid using any feminine items that could irritate. Using deodorant sprays or other feminine products in the genital area, such as douches and powders, might irritate the urethra.
  6. Alter birth control method.

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Last Updated on May 5, 2023 by Shabnam Sengupta

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Last Updated on May 5, 2023 by Shabnam Sengupta

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Last Updated on May 5, 2023 by Shabnam Sengupta

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Last Updated on May 5, 2023 by Shabnam Sengupta

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Last Updated on May 5, 2023 by Shabnam Sengupta

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

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Last Updated on May 5, 2023 by Shabnam Sengupta

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Last Updated on May 5, 2023 by Shabnam Sengupta

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Last Updated on May 5, 2023 by Shabnam Sengupta

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Last Updated on May 5, 2023 by Shabnam Sengupta

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Last Updated on May 5, 2023 by Shabnam Sengupta

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

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