Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
What is a urinary tract infection (UTI)?
A UTI is an infection caused by bacteria that occurs in any part of the urinary system, such as the urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys. An infection of the urethra and bladder is considered a lower urinary tract infection, and an infection of the ureters and kidneys is considered an upper urinary tract infection. The most common type of UTI is a bladder infection, also known as cystitis.
- Causes and Risk Factors
- Symptoms and Treatment
UTIs occur when germs enter and infect the urinary tract. Females are at a higher risk of becoming infected than males. Other risk factors:
- A previous UTI
- Sexual activity
- Reduced mobility
- Urinary catheter
- Kidney stones
- Enlarged prostate
Please visit the Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection page for more information about catheter-associated urinary tract infections.
Common symptoms of a UTI include:
- Pain or burning while urinating
- Pain in the lower abdomen or back
- Increased frequency of urination
- Increased urge to urinate
- Blood in the urine
Fever may or may not be present along with these symptoms.
If you have any of the symptoms above, see your health care provider. They will be able to diagnose your infection and determine if an antibiotic is necessary. Germs are becoming more resistant to antibiotics and taking drugs when not needed is only fueling the problem. If you are given a prescription, take the antibiotic exactly how your health care provider recommends. Do not skip any doses, share medication, or save any leftover pills. Drink plenty of water to help clear the bacteria from your body. Phenazopyridine may help lessen the pain or discomfort, but does not cure the infection. If you take this medicine, continue taking your antibiotics at the same time.
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
- Wipe front to back when toileting