What is a urinary tract infection?

A urinary tract infection can be serious and may need to be treated with antibiotics.
A urinary tract infection can be serious and may need to be treated with antibiotics.

The urinary system of your body includes two kidneys, two tubes (ureters), a urine sac (bladder) and an opening to expel the urine from the body (urethra).

An infection of this system due to germs is called a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Most urinary infections affect the lower urinary tract and spare the kidneys. These UTIs are easily treatable. In a few cases, the kidneys may be affected, and this is a serious condition. Women are more likely than men to experience UTIs, especially recurrently. 

What are the causes of urinary tract infection or urinary infection?

An infection occurs when there is contamination of the urinary area due to bacteria from the gut. The most common germ is E. coli (80%). Other causative bacteria include Staphylococcus saprophyticus (10% to 15%), Enterococcus, Klebsiella, Enterobacter and Proteus.

Some habits or conditions may also increase your risk of urinary tract infection (UTI). These include 

  • Not drinking enough water
  • Holding urine for long periods
  • Spinal cord injuries or nerve damage that may cause difficulties in emptying bladder regularly and completely
  • Tumors, kidney stones and an enlarged prostate (in men) that may block the flow of urine
  • Conditions such as diabetes that may reduce the ability of the body’s immune system to fight off an infection, especially in an older person
  • A catheter (a tube placed in the urethra and bladder to drain urine) in a bed-ridden person
  • Women get infected more commonly because a woman’s urethra is shorter than a man’s, which allows easy access to the bladder
  • Unhygienic patterns of wiping the genital area, especially in women
  • Sexual activity that may move the infection to the urethra
  • Birth control methods such as spermicides, diaphragms and unlubricated condoms that may allow bacterial growth
  • Hormonal changes in pregnant women and women who are in menopause

What are the symptoms of urinary tract infection?

You may have a urinary tract infection (UTI) if you are experiencing the following

  • Pain and pressure in the lower part of your tummy or groin
  • Burning pain while urinating
  • An urge to urinate often, but not much comes out when you are urinating
  • Cloudy and smelly urine
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Dribbling of urine
  • Inability to control urine
  • Inability to void the urine
  • Feeling tired

It can be serious if you have

How  is UTI diagnosed?

Your doctor may ask for

  • Urine examination and analysis for the presence of bacteria, sugar and abnormal blood cells
  • A urine culture test
  • A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test (to check prostate enlargement in men)
  • Blood sugar levels to check whether you have diabetes.
  • Ultrasonography to check for thickening of the urinary bladder, renal stones or prostate problems.

QUESTION

How much urine does the average adult pass each day? See Answer

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Medically Reviewed on 9/16/2020
References
Medscape Medical Reference

NIH


American Family Physician


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