- How Does a UTI Happen?
- What Is a UTI?
- Complications and Side Effects
How does a urinary tract infection happen?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) develops when microbes enter the urinary tract. Bacteria, and often E.coli which lives in the bowel, is the most common cause of UTIs. Women are more likely to get a urinary tract infection because their urethra is shorter than a man’s. This allows bacteria easier access to the bladder. A woman’s urethral opening is also closer to sources of bacteria that come from the vagina and anus.
What is urinary tract infection?
UTIs can happen anywhere in the urinary system including in the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. However, they typically occur in the bladder. If you have a UTI, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Pain or burning when urinating
- Need to urinate often but not much comes out when you do
- Pressure in your lower abdomen
- Milky or cloudy urine that smells bad
- Blood in your urine (most common in younger women)
- Tiredness, shaky feeling, confusion, or weakness (most common in older women)
- Fever — this could be a sign that the infection has gone to your kidneys
There are certain birth controls that can increase your risk of a UTI. There are also other factors that can put you at risk for bacterial growth including:
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Holding urine for long periods of time
- Spinal cord injuries or other nerve damage that makes emptying your bladder completely difficult
- Conditions or situations that block the flow of urine, like a tumor, kidney stone, or sexual intercourse
- Diabetes and other conditions that hurt your immune system, making it harder to fight off infection
- Hormonal changes in the urinary tract (especially a concern for pregnant women)
Diagnosis for urinary tract infection
To determine if you have a urinary tract infection, your doctor will test a sample of your urine. The sample must be clean, so you will have to wipe your genital area with a special wipe. This is to remove outside bacteria that may affect the test result. The doctor will test your urine for bacteria. If you’ve had UTIs before, your doctor may order additional tests to rule out other issues. These tests are a cystogram and a cystoscopic exam.
In addition to testing for bacteria or signs of infection, your doctor may do a urine culture. This test will determine levels of bacteria and yeast in the urine, which could also cause your UTI. If you have blood in your urine, you should call your doctor immediately. It could be a sign of a UTI or a symptom of a more severe problem. If a long-lasting fever accompanies your UTI your doctor may do an ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) scan to check your urinary tract for other issues.
Treatments for urinary tract infection
To treat a UTI, your doctor will first need to determine what type of UTI you have. There are two types of UTIs. A simple UTI is an infection that happens in healthy people with normal urinary tracts. A complicated UTI occurs in abnormal urinary tracts or when the bacteria causing the infection can’t be treated by many antibiotics. Most women have simple UTIs, but men and children typically have complicated UTIs.
Your doctor may put you on a three day antimicrobial regimen to treat uncomplicated UTIs. Usually antibiotics can help you get rid of a UTI. There is a 90% bacterial eradication rate. The types of medication your doctor may prescribe include trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, trimethoprim alone, ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, norfloxacin, and gatifloxacin.
Drinking a lot of fluid when you have a UTI is very important. You should not hold your urine for long periods of time. Drinking fluids will ensure you’re passing urine multiple times per day. Keep your genital area clean and dry. Wipe from front to back so bacteria cannot enter your urethra.
If UTIs continue to return you should consider taking a supplement called D-mannose. You can also consume cranberry products like juice or tablets to help reduce UTI risk. However, both the supplement and cranberry products do contain a lot of sugar.
Possible complications and side effects
A UTI that gets treated promptly will not likely harm your urinary tract. However, if you do not treat the infection it can spread to your kidneys and other parts of your body. The most common symptoms of kidney infection are fever and pain in your back where your kidneys are. In very severe cases, the infection can get into your bloodstream and become life threatening.
If you are on antibiotics for your UTI you could experience side effects from the medication. These side effects can range from minor reactions like a rash to very serious health problems like antibiotic-resistant infections. If you develop side effects while on antibiotics you should contact your doctor immediately.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Urinary tract infection."
National Health Service: "Urinary tract infections (UTIs)."
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: "What causes UTIs & UI?"
Office on Women’s Health: "Urinary tract infections."
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: "Treatment of urinary tract infections in nonpregnant women."
Urology Care Foundation: "Urinary tract infections in adults."
Top Get Rid of a Urinary Tract Infection UTI Related Articles
Can a UTI Become a Kidney Infection?What Is the Difference Between Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) and Kidney Infections and Can a UTI become a kidney infection? Learn the symptoms of UTIs and kidney infections to better treat these conditions.
Can You Flush Out a UTI With Water?Patients with urinary tract infection (UTI) are usually advised to drink six to eight glasses (1.5 to 2 liters) of water every day to flush the infection out of the urinary system.
Can You Get Rid of a UTI By Drinking Water?UTI stands for urinary tract infection and it describes when your urinary system gets infected. While the effects of drinking water to flush out or get rid of UTIs is not proven, there has been a link between drinking over 2.2 liters of water daily and a decreased risk for UTIs.
How Do You Treat Mucus in Urine?Learn what medical treatments can help with mucus in your urine and speed up your recovery.
How Fast Does Amoxicillin Work for a UTI?Learn how amoxicillin can help ease your urinary tract infection symptoms and help you manage this condition.
Is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Contagious?Bacteria such as E. coli or Pseudomonas can cause a urinary tract infection (UTI). The incubation period for a UTI ranges from three to eight days.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the bladder, kidneys, ureters, or urethra. E. coli, a type of bacteria that lives in the bowel and near the anus, causes most UTIs. UTI symptoms include pain, abdominal pain, mild fever, urinary urgency, and frequency. Treatment involves a course of antibiotics.
Bladder Infections: UTI Causes, Symptoms, TreatmentsUrinary Tract Infections (UTI's) can happen to anyone. Learn about symptoms, causes and home remedy treatments for bladder and kidney infections in women, infants, and men.
UTI Symptoms SlideshowBladder infections can be painful and often require medical treatment. Get the latest information on urinary tract infections (UTI) . Learn how UTI's are diagnosed in infants, adults, and the elderly.
Urinary Tract Infection QuizHow would you know if you had urinary tract infection (UTI)? Take the Urinary Tract Infection in Adult Quiz to learn the causes, symptoms, and treatments for infection that can affect your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.
Urinary Tract Infections in ChildrenUrinary tract infections (UTIs) are very common in children. Symptoms and signs include fever and abdominal pain. Associated symptoms and signs include flank pain, vomiting, and blood in the urine. Treatment for a UTI involves antibiotic therapy.
What Is the Difference Between Cystitis and UTI?Learn the difference between cystitis and UTI and how to treat each condition.
Yeast Infection vs. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)Candida albicans typically causes vaginal yeast infections. Bacterial infections typically cause urinary tract infections (UTIs). Thick white cottage-cheese like vaginal discharge characterizes vaginal yeast infections. Painful, frequent urination characterize urinary tract infections. Antifungal medications treat yeast infections while prescription antibiotics treat UTIs.