Urinary Tract Infection

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common infection of the urinary system, which includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. 

Causes of a UTI

Most urinary tract infections are a result of a bacterial infection.  The risk of developing a UTI may increase with the following:

  • Use of diaphragm or condom with spermicidal agents
  • Long-term use of a blader catheter
  • Loss of estrogen due to menopause
  • Sexual activity
  • Poorly controlled diabetes
  • Enlarged prostate in men

Symptoms of a UTI

A urinary tract infection causes the lining of the bladder and urethra to become inflamed and irritated. The irritation can cause pain in the abdomen and pelvic area and may cause some of the following symptoms:

  • Burning with urination
  • Strong, constant urge to urinate
  • Fever
  • Foul odor of the urine
  • Blood in the urine

Diagnosis of a UTI

Urinary tract infections are diagnosed through a review of systems and physical examination. A simple urine test typically is perfomed to detect the presence of bacteria in the urine, and a urine culture also is typically performed.

Treatment of a UTI

Most urinary tract infections are treated with antibiotics. Pain medication may be prescribed to relieve the burning sensation while urinating. Patients are also advised to drink plenty of fluids. Left untreated, a urinary tract infection in the bladder can extend into one or both kidneys and lead to a much more severe and dangerous infection.

Prevention of a UTI

While not all urinary tract infections can be avoided, the following recommendations may help to prevent a UTI from occurring:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to keep well hydrated
  • Urinate after intercourse to flush bacteria
  • Do not use contraceptives with spermicidal foam
  • Use proper hygiene by wiping from front to back after bowel movements

It is also important to empty the bladder completely when urinating.

Additional Resources