What Causes A Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary tract infections are caused by microorganisms usually bacteria that enter the urethra and bladder, causing inflammation and infection. Though a UTI most commonly happens in the urethra and bladder, bacteria can also travel up the ureters and infect your kidneys.
More than 90% of bladder infection cases are caused by E. coli, a bacterium normally found in the intestines.
Treatment Of Urinary Tract Infections
UTIs result in considerable economic and public health burdens and substantially affect the life quality of afflicted individuals. Currently, antibiotics such as trimethoprim sulfamethoxazole, ciprofloxacin and ampicillin are the most commonly recommended therapeutics for UTIs. However, increasing rates of antibiotic resistance and high recurrence rates threaten to greatly enhance the burden that these common infections place on society. Ideally, alternative therapies will be established that will be recalcitrant to the development of resistance. Many promising approaches are being developed, from leveraging what we have learned about the basic biology of UTI pathogenesis to specifically target virulence pathways. These antivirulence therapeutics should theoretically allow us to effectively neutralize, or disarm, the capacity of UTI pathogens to cause disease, without altering the gut commensal microbiota, because antivirulence therapeutics target processes that are critical for UTI pathogenesis but that are not required for the essential processes of growth and cell division .
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Do I need any tests, such as urinalysis?
- What is the likely cause of my urinary tract infection ?
- Do I need medicine? How should I take it?
- What are the possible side effects of the medicine?
- When should I expect relief from my symptoms?
- What symptoms would indicate that my infection is getting worse? What should I do if I experience these symptoms?
- I get UTIs a lot. What can I do to prevent them?
- Do I need preventive antibiotics? If so, should I be concerned about antibiotic resistance?
- My child gets UTIs a lot. Could an anatomical problem be causing his or her UTIs?
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About Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections are common infections that can affect the bladder, the kidneys and the tubes connected to them.
Anyone can get them, but they’re particularly common in women. Some women experience them regularly .
UTIs can be painful and uncomfortable, but usually pass within a few days and can be easily treated with antibiotics.
This page is about UTIs in adults. There is a separate article about UTIs in children.
This page covers:
Uti Tests And Diagnosis
If you suspect that you have a urinary tract infection, go to the doctor. You’ll give a urine sample to test for UTI-causing bacteria.
If you get frequent UTIs and your doctor suspects a problem in your urinary tract, they might take a closer look with an ultrasound, a CT scan, or an MRI scan. They might also use a long, flexible tube called a cystoscope to look inside your urethra and bladder.
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Who Gets Urinary Tract Infections
Anyone can get a urinary tract infection, but they are more common in women. This is because the urethra in females is shorter and closer to the anus, where E. coli bacteria are common. Older adults also are at higher risk for developing cystitis. This increased risk may be due to incomplete emptying of the bladder. There are several medical conditions that can be related to this, including an enlarged prostate or a bladder prolapse .
If you get frequent urinary tract infections, your healthcare provider may do tests to check for other health problems such as diabetes or an abnormal urinary systemthat may be contributing to your infections. People with frequent UTIs are occasionally given low-dose antibiotics for a period of time to prevent the infection from coming back. This cautious approach to treating frequent UTIs is because your body can develop a resistance to the antibiotic and you can get other types of infections, such as C. diff colitis. This practice is used very infrequently.
Does Cranberry Juice Prevent A Urinary Tract Infection
Many people say that cranberry juice can help treat, or even prevent, a UTI. Researchers are currently looking into the topic, but havent found a definitive answer yet. Healthcare providers recommend drinking lots of fluids if you have, or have a history of getting, a UTI. Adding a glass of unsweetened cranberry juice to your diet isnt a proven way to prevent a UTI, but it typically wont hurt you either.
Can I Prevent A Urinary Tract Infection
You can usually prevent a urinary tract infection with lifestyle changes. These tips can include:
In some post-menopausal women, a healthcare provider may suggest an estrogen-containing vaginal cream. This may reduce the risk of developing a UTI by changing the pH of the vagina. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have recurrent UTIs and have already gone through menopause.
Over-the-counter supplements are also available for UTIs. These are sometimes recommended for people who have frequent UTIs as another way to prevent them. Talk to your healthcare provider before starting any supplements and ask if these could be a good choice for you.
Related Conditions And Causes Of Uti
There are a number of health conditions that share some symptoms with urinary tract infections, including:
The following conditions may make you more susceptible to developing a UTI and increase the severity of symptoms:
Type 2 diabetes
And having a UTI can increase a man’s risk for benign prostatic hyperplasia .
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Vaccines Targeting Bacterial Toxins And Proteases
The UPEC pore-forming toxin HlyA has also received attention as a potential vaccine target and was evaluated in a mouse model of pyelonephritis to assess protection against renal damage,. Vaccination with HlyA reduced the incidence of renal scaring compared with controls however, it did not protect against UPEC colonization of the kidneys. In addition, in a mouse model of UTI, vaccination with the P. mirabilis haemolysin, HpmA, did not provide protection against bacterial colonization. However, vaccination with Pta, an alkaline protease with toxic effects towards epithelial cells, displayed promising results in a mouse model of UTI, protecting against upper UTI, although bacterial burdens in the bladder remained unaffected. Thus, although haemolysins and proteases might provide effective vaccine targets for preventing upper UTIs, additional studies are needed to determine the effectiveness of these enzymes as targets for vaccines.
Eating Diet & Nutrition
Experts dont think eating, diet, and nutrition play a role in preventing or treating bladder infections. If you have any type of UTI, talk with a health care professional about how much to drink each day to help prevent or relieve your infection.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and other components of the National Institutes of Health conduct and support research into many diseases and conditions.
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How To Feel Better
If your healthcare professional prescribes you antibiotics:
- Take antibiotics exactly as your healthcare professional tells you.
- Do not share your antibiotics with others.
- Do not save antibiotics for later. Talk to your healthcare professional about safely discarding leftover antibiotics.
Drink plenty of water or other fluids. Your healthcare professional might also recommend medicine to help lessen the pain or discomfort. Talk with your healthcare professional if you have any questions about your antibiotics.
Who’s At Risk Of Uti Complications
Although a bladder infection is not a medical emergency, the following individuals have a higher risk for UTI complications such as infection spread to the kidneys or elsewhere in the body:
- Pregnant women
- Individuals with kidney problems such as kidney stones or blockages
- Elderly individuals
- People with urinary retention and/or indwelling catheters
Which Infections Are Worse
NIDDK . A kidney infection is usually caused by a bladder or urethra infection where the bacteria multiply and travel upward toward the kidneys.
Kidney infections can be extremely serious and painful, sometimes leading to hospitalization to receive intravenous antibiotics. If left untreated, kidney infections due to UTIs can cause infections in the bloodstream. This can be life-threatening.
Children And Urinary Tract Infections
Symptoms in children are different from symptoms in adults. Urinary tract infections are quite common in children. While UTIs in very young children are often associated with an anatomic abnormality, for others the infection is related to introducing bacteria into the urinary tract. UTIs in children generally peak in infancy and then again between ages 2 and 4, coinciding with potty training.
In newborns, signs of urinary tract infection include poor feeding, lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, mild jaundice, and fever. For babies younger than 2, foul-smelling urine may also be a sign. For older children, the more classic UTI signs, such as urgency, incontinence, and pain while urinating occur.
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Check If It’s A Urinary Tract Infection
Symptoms of a UTI may include:
- pain or a burning sensation when peeing
- needing to pee more often than usual during the night
- pee that looks cloudy
- needing to pee suddenly or more urgently than usual
- needing to pee more often than usual
- lower tummy pain or pain in your back, just under the ribs
- a high temperature, or feeling hot and shivery
- a very low temperature below 36C
Important Notes For Uti Treatment
To ensure your UTI is completely gone, its important to finish your course of antibioticseven if it doesnt burn when you pee anymore. If you dont, you risk developing an antibiotic-resistant UTI, which makes your UTI more complicated to treat.
If youve dealt with bladder infections or UTIs before, youve likely heard about home remediessuch as cranberry juice and drinking a lot of wateras antibiotic alternatives. Though home remedies may sound like an easier shortcut, there isnt any evidence that shows they will treat a bacterial infection thats already present. Though things like staying hydrated may be recommended alongside antibiotics as a part of your treatment plan, they dont substitute the effectiveness of antibiotics.
How to get help 24/7
The sooner you can get treated for your UTI, the better. If youre feeling the burning and the urgency, its time to start your visit. The longer you wait, the more chance the infection has of traveling to your kidneys. But dont let that scare you! You can start an online visit at Virtuwell 24/7yes, even in the middle of the night when your bladder wont let you sleepand UTIs are very treatable.
Common Questions & Answers
UTI symptoms can be uncomfortable or painful. They include the following:
- A strong urge to urinate
- Pain or burning during urination
- Passing small amounts of urine
- Cloudy, strong-smelling, red or pink urine
- Mucus or discharge
- Fever, shaking, chills, or pain in the upper back, side, or groin
How Is A Uti Diagnosed
To find out whether you have a UTI, your doctor or nurse will test a clean sample of your urine. This means you will first wipe your genital area with a special wipe. Then you will collect your urine in midstream in a cup. Your doctor or nurse may then test your urine for bacteria to see whether you have a UTI, which can take a few days.
If you have had a UTI before, your doctor may order more tests to rule out other problems. These tests may include:
- A cystogram. This is a special type of x-ray of your urinary tract. These x-rays can show any problems, including swelling or kidney stones.
- A cystoscopic exam. The cystoscope is a small tube the doctor puts into the urethra to see inside of the urethra and bladder for any problems.
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How Do You Get A Bladder Infection Or Uti
UTIs happen when bacteria enters the urethra and spreads. Urinary tract infections are fairly common and can happen to anyone, but the following risk factors can increase your chances of getting one:
- The sex you’re assigned at birthpeople assigned female at birth have shorter urethras than those assigned male at birth, making it easier for bacteria to travel to the bladder and kidneys.
- Hormone changesmenopause, pregnancy, or just that time of the month can increase your risk of infection.
- Diaphragms and spermicidesthese forms of contraception can kill off good bacteria, increasing the bad bacteria which can find its way to the urethra.
- Genetic predispositionThats right! It could just be a genetic thing. Genetics play a role in the shape and size of your urinary tract making some individuals more prone to infections.
- Sexual activityPee as soon as possible after sex to prevent UTIs.
- Hygiene habitsBubble baths and scented feminine products might feel like self-care, but they can cause irritation that leads to UTIs. Also, always make sure youre wiping front to back!
- Chronic illnessIllness that causes changes to your immune system, like diabetes, can make you more prone to UTIs.
- Holding itNo need to be a hero. When you have to go to the bathroom, you should go.
- Not drinking enough waterAdd it to the list of reasons you should drink more water! Staying hydrated can help stave off infections.
Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms And Signs
Symptoms of a urinary tract infection are similar in men, women, and children.
- Early symptoms and signs are usually easy to recognize and primarily involve pain, discomfort, or burning when trying to urinate.
- Accompanying this can be the sense that one needs to urinate urgently or the need for frequent urination . Even when there is a strong urge to urinate, you may pass only a small amount of urine.
- The urine itself may appear bloody or cloudy. Men may feel pain in the rectum, while women may experience pain around the pubic bone.
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When To See A Doctor
Although the body may sometimes fight off a UTI on its own, waiting for this to happen carries risks. UTIs can quickly spread, causing serious kidney infections.
A person should see a doctor for any symptoms of a UTI, particularly if they are pregnant or have an underlying health condition that affects their immune system.
A person with should go to the emergency room for immediate medical care. The symptoms of a kidney infection include:
Causes Of Bladder Infection In Men
Cystitis is less common among men. In men, a common cause is bacterial infection of the prostate Prostatitis Prostatitis is pain and swelling, inflammation, or both of the prostate gland. The cause is sometimes a bacterial infection. Pain can occur in the area between the scrotum and anus or in the… read more that causes repeated episodes of cystitis and urethritis. Urethritis Urethritis is infection of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. Bacteria, including those that are sexually transmitted, are the most common cause of urethritis… read more Although antibiotics quickly clear bacteria from the urine in the bladder, most of these drugs cannot penetrate well enough into the prostate to quickly cure an infection there. Usually antibiotics must be taken for weeks at a time. Consequently, if drug therapy is stopped prematurely, bacteria that remain in the prostate tend to reinfect the bladder.
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What Should I Do If I Think I Have A Bladder Infection Or Uti
Because UTIs are bacterial infections, youll most likely need a prescription for antibiotics from a doctor. But, when youre running to the bathroom every few minutes in pain, the idea of sitting in trafficor even being stuck in a car for more than a minutesounds not only excruciating but maybe impossible.
Thankfully, Virtuwell can treat you online without a urine sampleand without having to leave the comfort of your home. Research shows that a urine culture isnt necessary to treat common bladder infections. Just fill out a survey about your symptoms and medical history, and one of Virtuwells certified nurse practitioners will review your answers to rule out something more serious, provide you with a diagnosis and personalized treatment plan, and send your prescription to a pharmacy of your choice.
How Common Are Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections are very common, occurring in 1 out of 5 women sometime in their lifetime. Though UTIs are common in women, they can also happen to men, older adults and children. One to 2% of children develop urinary tract infections. Each year, 8 million to 10 million visits to doctors are for urinary tract infections.
Urinary Tract Infection Program
We have developed the Urinary Tract Infection program to respond to concerns about the overuse of antibiotics for presumed UTIs in residents in long-term care homes and the associated antibiotic-related harms. The UTI program supports long-term care homes to improve the management of UTIs for non-catheterized residents in their homes and helps them implement the organizational and individual practice changes required.
PHO has helped over 100 long-term care homes to implement the UTI Program. PHO now offers a new type of support for the UTI Program that is flexible and tailored.
How does it work?Please take a look at the UTI web page and at the five practice changes for details. Our coaches are here to support the leads from your home through one-on-one phone calls, which will focus on everything that your home needs to implement a successful program.
How do we get in touch?Please email if you would like to learn more about the UTI program or are interested in receiving coaching support.