A urinary tract infection (UTI) is
a bacterial infection that affects any part of the urinary tract.
The main causative agent is Escherichia coli. Although urine contains
a variety of fluids, salts and waste products, it usually does
not have bacteria in it. When bacteria get into the bladder or kidney
and multiply in the urine, they cause a UTI. The most common type
of UTI is a bladder infection.
urinary tract infection is an infection involving the kidneys, ureters,
bladder, or urethra. These are the structures that urine passes
through before being eliminated from the body.
infection occurs when bacteria get into the urine and begin
to grow. The infection usually starts at the opening of the
urethra and moves upward into the urinary tract.
These bacteria can move from the area around the anus to the
opening of the urethra. The two most common causes of this are
poor hygiene and sexual intercourse.
Usually, the act of emptying the bladder (urinating) flushes
the bacteria out of the urethra. If there are too many bacteria,
urinating may not stop their spread.
If they reach the kidney, they can cause a kidney infection
, which can become a very serious condition if not treated promptly.
People with conditions that block the urinary tract, such as
People with medical conditions that cause incomplete bladder
People with suppressed immune systems: Examples of situations
in which the immune system is suppressed are AIDS and diabetes.
Sexual intercourse can introduce larger numbers of bacteria
into the bladder. Infection is more likely common in women who
have frequent intercourse.
Women who use a diaphragm for birth control.
Men with an enlarged prostate: Prostatitis or obstruction of
the urethra by an enlarged prostate can lead to incomplete bladder
emptying, thus increasing the risk of infection. This is most
common in older men.
Males are also less likely to develop UTIs because their urethra
(tube from the bladder) is longer. There is a drier environment
where a man's urethra meets the outside world and fluid produced
in the prostate can fight bacteria.
urinary tract infection (cystitis): The lining of the urethra
and bladder becomes inflamed and irritated.
Pain or burning during urination.
Frequency: more frequent urination (or waking up at night to
urinate); often with only a small amount of urine.
Urgency: the sensation of not being able to hold urine.
Hesitancy: the sensation of not being able to urinate easily
or completely (or feeling that you have to urinate but only
a few drops of urine come out).
Cloudy, bad-smelling, or bloody urine.
Lower abdominal pain.
Mild fever (less than 101o F),
chills and "just not feeling well" (malaise).
Upper urinary tract infection Symptoms develop rapidly and may
or may not include the symptoms for a lower urinary tract infection.
Fairly high fever (higher than 101o F).
In newborns, infants, children and elderly people, the classic
symptoms of a urinary tract infection may not be present. Other
symptoms may indicate a urinary tract infection.
Elderly people: fever or hypothermia, poor appetite, lethargy,
change in mental status.
Pregnant women are at increased risk for an UTI. Typically,
pregnant women do not have unusual or unique symptoms. If you
are pregnant, your urine should be checked during prenatal visits
because an unrecognized infection can cause pregnancy complications
Infants and Children
fever or hypothermia (low temperature), poor feeding, jaundice.
Infants: vomiting, diarrhea, fever, poor feeding, not thriving
Children: irritability, eating poorly, unexplained fever that
doesn't go away, loss of bowel control, loose bowels, change
in urination pattern.
patient with dysuria (painful voiding) and urinary frequency
generally has a spot mid-stream urine sample sent for urinalysis.
The diagnosis of UTI is confirmed by a urine culture.
Antibiotics (medications that kill bacteria) are the usual treatment
for bladder infections and other urinary tract infections. Seven
to ten of antibiotics are usually required, although some infections
may require only a single dose of antibiotics.
An additional urine test may be ordered about a week after completing
treatment to be sure the infection is cured.