When should people seek medical care for a UTI?
Any adult or child who develops any of the symptoms of a urinary tract infection needs to be evaluated by a medical professional, preferably within 24 hours. Most medical offices can test urine for infection by using a quick urine "dipstick" test.
- Someone who has symptoms of a lower urinary tract infection should call a health-care professional for an appointment, preferably on the same day that symptoms are recognized.
- Someone who has symptoms of an upper urinary tract infection involving the kidneys should call a health-care professional immediately. Depending on the situation, he or she will recommend either a visit to the office or to a hospital emergency department.
If someone has symptoms of a lower urinary tract infection and any of the following applies, he or she may have a urinary tract infection that can potentially be serious. Go to a hospital emergency department right away.
- Vomiting and inability to keep down clear fluids or medication
- Not better after taking antibiotics for two days
- Having diabetes or another disease that affects the immune system
- Taking medication that suppresses the immune system such as cancer chemotherapy
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Infants, children, and elderly people with any of the signs and symptoms of UTI should see their health-care professional as soon as possible or go to an emergency department for evaluation.
- Fever, lethargy, and poor appetite may indicate a urinary tract infection in these groups, but they may also be signs of something more serious.
- Urinary tract infections have the potential to make these vulnerable people very ill when the bacteria spread into the bloodstream.