Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) – Symptoms, Treatment and More

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection from microbes in any part of urinary tract including kidneys, bladder and urethra . Microbes are organisms that are too small to be detected without a microscope. Most UTIs are caused by bacteria, but some are caused by fungi and in rare cases by viruses. UTIs are one of the most common infections in humans.

A UTI can occur in any part of your urinary tract. Your urinary tract is consists of kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Most UTIs only occur in the urethra and bladder, in the lower tract. However, UTIs can involve the ureters and kidneys, in the upper tract. Although upper tract UTIs are more rare than lower tract UTIs, they’re also generally more severe.

Urinary tract infection (UTI) symptoms

Symptoms of a UTI depend upon the infected part of the urinary tract.

Lower tract UTIs generally affect the urethra and bladder. Symptoms of a lower tract UTI are:

  • burning while urinating
  • increased frequency of urination without passing enough urine
  • increased urge to urinate
  • blood in urine(hematuria)
  • cloudy urine
  • urine that looks like cola or tea
  • urine with a strong odor
  • pelvic pain in women
  • rectal pain in men

Upper tract UTIs affect the kidneys. These can be potentially life threatening if bacteria move from the infected kidney into the blood. This condition, called urosepsis, can cause seriously reduced blood pressure, shock, and death.

Symptoms of an upper tract UTI are:

  • pain and tenderness in the upper back and sides
  • chills
  • fever
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Urinary Tract Infection symptoms in men

Symptoms of an upper urinary tract infection in men are same as those in women. Symptoms of a lower tract urinary infection in men sometimes includes rectal pain along with the common symptoms shared by both men and women.

Urinary Tract Infection symptoms in women

Women with a lower tract urinary infection may experience pelvic pain along with the other common symptoms. Symptoms of upper tract infections in both men and women are similar.

Urinary Tract Infection treatment

Treatment of UTIs depends on the cause. Your doctor will be able to find out which organism is causing the infection.You doctor will perform test and from the test results diagnosis is confirmed.

In most of the cases, the causative organism is bacteria. UTIs caused by bacteria are treated with antibiotics.

In some cases, viruses or fungi are the causes. UTIs caused by viruses are treated with antiviral medications . Often, the antiviral cidofovir is the drug of choice to treat viral UTIs. Fungal UTIs are treated with medications called as antifungals.

Antibiotics for a Urinary Tract Infection

The form of antibiotic used to treat a bacterial UTI generally depends on which part of the tract is infected. Lower tract UTIs can usually be treated with oral antibiotics. Upper tract UTIs need intravenous antibiotics. These antibiotics are injected directly into your veins.

Sometimes, bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics. To decrease your risk of antibiotic resistance, your doctor will probably prescribes you the shortest treatment course possible. Treatment usually lasts no more than 1 week.

Appropriate treatment for the infection can be choosen on the basis of results of your urine culture. Your doctor will prescribe the suitable antibiotics which works best against the causative organisms.

Treatments other than antibiotics for bacterial UTIs are being assessed. At some point, UTI treatment without antibiotics may be an effective way to treat bacterial UTIs by using cell chemistry to change the interaction between the body and the bacteria.

Home remedies for a Urinary Tract Infection

No home remedies can cure a UTI, but there are some things that you can follow that can help your medication work better.

These home remedies for UTIs, such as drinking more water, may help your body cure the infection faster.

While cranberries are a famous remedy, the research on their effect on UTIs is no so clear. More conclusive studies are required.

Cranberry juice or cranberries don’t treat a UTI once the infection occured. However, a chemical in cranberries may help prevent certain types of bacteria that can lead to a bacterial UTI from attaching to the wall of your bladder. This may be helpful in preventing future UTIs.

Untreated UTIs

It’s necessary to treat a UTI — the earlier, the better. UTIs become more and more severe if left untreated and the further they spread. A UTI is generally easiest to treat in the lower urinary tract. An infection that grows to the upper urinary tract is harder to treat and has more chances to spread into your blood, leading to sepsis. This is a life-threatening event leads to multi organ failure.

If you feel that you have a UTI, visit to your doctor immediately. A simple examination and urine or blood test could save you from a lot of complications in the long term.

Urinary Tract Infection diagnosis

If you feel that you have a UTI based on your symptoms, consult to your doctor. Your doctor will check your symptoms and perform a physical examination. To ensure a diagnosis of a UTI, your doctor will require to test your urine for microbes.

The urine sample that you give your doctor requires to be a “clean catch” sample. Meaning the urine sample is collected at the middle of your urinary stream, rather than at the starting. This helps to avoid collecting the bacteria or yeast from your skin, which can contaminate the sample. Your doctor will tell you how to get a clean catch.

When testing the sample, your doctor will look for a large number of white blood cells in your urine. This can indicate an infection. Your doctor will also perform a urine culture to test for bacteria or fungi. The culture can help find out the cause of the infection. It can also help your doctor to select which treatment is appropriate for you.

If a virus is suspected, special testing may need to be done. Viruses are infrequent causes of UTIs but can be seen in people who have had organ transplants or who have other conditions that lowers their immune system.

Upper tract UTIs

If your doctor suspects that you have an upper tract UTI, they may also require to perform a complete blood count (CBC) and blood cultures, along with the urine test. A blood culture can assure that your infection hasn’t spread to your blood stream.

Recurrent UTIs

If you have recurrent or repeating UTIs, your doctor may also need to check for any complications or obstructions in your urinary tract. Some tests for this can be:

  • An ultrasound, in which a device called a transducer is passed over your abdomen. The transducer uses ultrasound waves to make an image of your urinary tract organs that are displayed on a monitor.
  • An intravenous pyelogram (IVP), which involves injecting a dye into your body that goes through your urinary pathway and taking an X-ray of your abdomen. The dye contrasts your urinary tract on the X-ray image.
  • cystoscopy, which uses a small camera that’s inserted through your urethra and up into your bladder to see the inside view of your bladder. During a cystoscopy, your doctor may remove a small piece of bladder tissue and test it to check out bladder inflammation or cancer as a reason behind your symptoms.
  • computerized tomography (CT) scan  is done to get more detailed images of your urinary system.

Causes and risk factors of a Urinary Tract Infection

Anything that lowers your bladder emptying or irritates the urinary tract can cause UTIs. There are also many factors that can put you at an elevated risk of suffering from a UTI. These factors include:

  • age — older adults have more chances to get UTIs
  • decreased mobility after surgery or a long term bed rest
  • kidney stones
  • a previous UTI
  • urinary tract obstructions or blockages, like an enlarged prostate, kidney stones, and certain forms of cancer
  • long term use of urinary catheters, which may make it easier for bacteria to enter into your bladder
  • diabetes, particularly if poorly controlled, which may make it more likely to get an UTI
  • pregnancy
  • inborn abnormalities of urinary structures
  • a lowered immune system

Urinary Tract Infection risk factors for men

Most UTI risk factors for men are the similar to those of women. However, having an enlarged prostate is one risk factor for a UTI that is distinctive to men.

Urinary Tract Infection risk factors for women

There are some additional risk factors for women. Some factors that were once thought to be a cause of UTIs in women have since been shown to not be as important, like poor bathroom hygiene. Recent studies have failed to show that wiping from back to front after going to the bathroom cause UTIs in women, like thought earlier.

In some cases, certain lifestyle changes may help reducing the risk of some of these factors.

Shorter urethra

The length and location of the urethra in women increases the the risk of UTIs. The urethra in women is very near to both the vagina and the anus. Bacteria that may naturally occur around both the vagina and anus can cause infection in the urethra and the other urinary organs.

A woman’s urethra is also shorter than a man’s urethra,so the bacteria have a shorter distance to travel to reach the bladder.

Sexual intercourse

Pressure on the female urinary tract during sexual intercourse can move bacteria from around the anus into the bladder. Most women have bacteria in their urine after the sexual intercourse. However, the body can generally get rid of these bacteria within 24 hours. Bowel bacteria may have properties that help them to attach to the bladder.


Spermicides may rise the risk of UTI . They can lead to skin irritation in some women. This increases the risk of bacteria to enter into the bladder.

Condom use during sex

Non-lubricated latex condoms may cause more friction and irritate the skin of women during sexual intercourse. This may increase the chances of getting UTI.

However, condoms are necessary for lowering the spread of sexually transmitted infections. To help prevent friction and skin irritation from condoms, make sure to use enough water-based lubricant, and use it usually during the intercourse.


Diaphragms may put pressure on a woman’s urethra. This can reduce emptying of bladder.

Decrease in estrogen levels

After menopause, lowering of your estrogen level changes the normal bacteria in your vagina. This can increase the chances of getting UTI.

Urinary Tract Infection prevention

Everyone can follow the given steps to help prevent UTIs:

  • Drink six to eight glasses of water every day.
  • Don’t hold urine for long periods of time.
  • Consult to your doctor about managing any urinary incontinence or problems in complete emptying of your bladder.

However, UTIs occur more frequently in women than in men. The ratio is 8:1Trusted Source. This means that for every eight women suffering from UTIs, only one man does.

Certain steps may help in preventing UTIs in women.

For perimenopausal or postmenopausal women, using topical or vaginal estrogen prescribed by your doctor could help in preventing UTIs. If your doctor thoughts that sexual intercourse is a cause of your recurrent UTIs, they may suggest taking preventive antibiotics after intercourse, or long-term.

Some studies have shown that long-term preventive use of antibiotics in older adults lowered the chances of getting UTIs.

Taking daily cranberry supplements or using vaginal probiotics, such as lactobacillus, may also help in the prevention of UTIs. Some studiesTrusted Source suggest that using probiotic vaginal suppositories can reduce the occurrence and repetition of UTIs, by changing the bacteria found in the vagina.

make sure to talk to your doctor what the correct prevention plan is for you.

Chronic UTIs

Most UTIs disappear after treatment. Chronic UTIs either don’t completely cured after treatment or keep recurring. Repeating infections are common among women.

Many cases of recurrent UTIs are due to reinfection with the same type of bacteria. However, some recurrent infections don’t necessarily involve the same type of bacteria. Instead, an abnormality in the structure of the urinary tract increases the risk of getting UTIs.

UTIs during pregnancy

Pregnant and having symptoms of a UTI should consult with their doctor as soon as possible. UTIs during pregnancy can lead to high blood pressure and premature delivery. UTIs during pregnancy have more chances to spread to the kidneys.

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