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Asymptomatic Bacteriuria

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What is asymptomatic bacteriuria?

Asymptomatic bacteriuria (ASB) is the presence of bacteria in the urine without any symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI). Symptoms of a UTI include burning pain with urination, pain in the lower abdomen or back, increased frequency of urination, increased urge to urinate, and blood in the urine. Please visit the UTI page for more information.

Symptoms

ASB does not have any symptoms.

Treatment

ASB should not be treated. There is no benefit of taking antibiotics for ASB, but there are risks of taking antibiotics when not needed. Problems that can happen from taking antibiotics are allergic reactions, side effects such as upset stomach or diarrhea, interaction with other drugs you are taking, C. difficile infection, and antibiotic resistance.

Prevention

Prevention strategies for UTI include:

  • Urinate before and after sexual activity
  • Stay well-hydrated and urinate regularly
  • Take showers instead of baths
  • Minimize douching and sprays or powders in the genital area
  • Teach girls to wipe front to back when potty training

Why is it important to use antibiotics wisely?

Using antibiotics may cause bacteria and other organisms to change in ways that make those antibiotics and other drugs less effective at killing them, or sometimes not effective at all. This is called antibiotic resistance. Resistance to antibiotics is on the rise in the United States. Every year around 23,000 people die because of these infections. It is important to limit unnecessary antibiotic use to slow the rate of resistance. Please visit the Antimicrobial Resistance page for more information.

Helpful Resources

Patient and Family Education – Fact Sheet About UTI/ASB

AHRQ – Suspected UTI SBAR Toolkit

AHRQ – Toolkit to Educate and Engage Residents and Family Members

CDC – NHSN Long-Term Care Facility Component Urinary Tract Infection

CDC – Urinary Tract Infection