Urinary Tract Infection in Adults (cont.)

How can recurrent UTIs be prevented?

Changing some daily habits may help a person prevent recurrent UTIs.

Eating, diet, and nutrition

Drinking lots of fluid can help flush bacteria from the system. Water is best. Most people should try for six to eight, 8-ounce glasses a day. A person who has kidney failure should not drink this much fluid. A health care provider should be consulted to learn how much fluid is healthy.

Urination Habits

A person should urinate often and when the urge arises. Bacteria can grow when urine stays in the bladder too long. Women and men should urinate shortly after sex to flush away bacteria that might have entered the urethra during sex. Drinking a glass of water will also help flush bacteria away.

After using the toilet, women should wipe from front to back. This step is most important after a bowel movement to keep bacteria from getting into the urethra.


Cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes should be worn, so air can keep the area around the urethra dry. Tight-fitting jeans and nylon underwear should be avoided because they can trap moisture and help bacteria grow.

Birth Control

For women, using a diaphragm or spermicide for birth control can lead to UTIs by increasing bacteria growth. A woman who has trouble with UTIs should try switching to a new form of birth control. Unlubricated condoms or spermicidal condoms increase irritation, which may help bacteria grow. Switching to lubricated condoms without spermicide or using a nonspermicidal lubricant may help prevent UTIs.

Points to remember

  • Most urinary tract infections (UTIs) arise from one type of bacteria, Escherichia coli (E. coli), which normally lives in the bowel.
  • Symptoms of a UTI in adults may include the following:
    • a frequent and intense urge to urinate
    • a painful, burning feeling in the bladder or urethra during urination
    • feeling tired, shaky, and weak
    • muscle aches
    • abdominal pain
    • only small amounts of urine passed, despite a strong urge to urinate
    • cloudy, dark, or bloody urine or urine that has a foul smell
    • pain in the back or side below the ribs
    • nausea and vomiting
  • Fever may indicate a kidney or prostate infection.
  • Because bacteria can be found in the urine of healthy individuals, a UTI is diagnosed based both on symptoms and a laboratory test.
  • UTIs are treated with bacteria-fighting medications called antibiotics or antimicrobials.

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