Urinary Tract Infection

Know More: Urinary Tract Infection

Trustworthy information, straight from the source. Education is the first step in an empowering healthcare plan. Learn more about urinary tract infections, from prevention to diagnosis and treatment.

Woman talking with doctor

Condition Overview

What is a urinary tract infection?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is caused by bacteria that get inside your urinary tract. Your urinary tract includes your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Urine is made in your kidneys and flows from the ureters to the bladder. Urine leaves the bladder through the urethra. A UTI is more common in your lower urinary tract, which includes your bladder and urethra.

Risk Prevention

What increases your risk for a urinary tract infection?

Common causes of urinary tract infections include:

  • A urinary catheter or self-catheterization.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Urinary tract problems, such as a narrowing, kidney stones, or inability to empty your bladder completely.
  • History of a UTI.
  • Sexual intercourse.
  • Menopause.
  • Diabetes or obesity.

How can you help prevent a urinary tract infection?

  • Women should wipe front to back after urinating or having a bowel movement. This may prevent germs from getting into the urinary tract.
  • Urinate after you have sex to flush away bacteria that can enter your urinary tract during sex.
  • Wear cotton underwear and clothes that fit loose. Tight pants and nylon underwear can trap moisture and cause bacteria to grow.

Diagnosis & Treatment Options

What are the signs and symptoms of a urinary tract infection?

  • Urinating more often than usual, leaking urine, or waking from sleep to urinate.
  • Pain or burning when you urinate.
  • Pain or pressure in your lower abdomen.
  • Urine that smells bad.
  • Blood in your urine.

How is a urinary tract infection diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your signs and symptoms. Your provider may press on your abdomen, sides, and back to check if you feel pain. Your urine will be tested for bacteria that may be causing your infection. If you have UTIs often, you may need more tests to find the cause.

How is a urinary tract infection treated?

  • Antibiotics. Helps fight a bacterial infection.
  • Medicine. Given to decrease pain and burning when you urinate. Can also help decrease the feeling that you need to urinate often. These medicines will make your urine orange or red.

Preparing for Care

How can your manage my urinary tract infection symptoms?

  • Urinate when you feel the urge. Do not hold your urine because bacteria can grow in the bladder if urine stays in the bladder too long. It may be helpful to urinate at least every 3 to 4 hours.
  • Drink liquids as directed. Liquids can help flush bacteria from your urinary tract. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. You may need to drink more liquids than usual to help flush out the bacteria. Do not drink alcohol, caffeine, and citrus juices. These can irritate your bladder and increase your symptoms.
  • Apply heat on your abdomen for 20 to 30 minutes every two hours for as many days as directed. Heat helps decrease discomfort and pressure in your bladder.

 When should  you seek immediate care for a urinary tract infection?

  • You are urinating very little or not at all.
  • You are vomiting.
  • You have a high fever with shaking chills.
  • You have side or back pain that gets worse.

When should you contact your provider?

  • You have a fever.
  • You are a woman and you have increased white or yellow discharge from your vagina.
  • You do not feel better after two days of taking antibiotics.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.