Urinary Tract Infection
A urinary tract infection, or UTI, happens when bacteria get into your urinary tract —kidneys, bladder or urethra.
There are two types of UTIs: simple and complicated.
Simple UTIs occur in healthy people with normal urinary tracts.
Complicated UTIs occur in abnormal urinary tracts or when most antibiotics cannot treat the bacteria causing the infection. Most women have simple UTIs, while UTIs in men and children are considered complicated.
Women are more likely to get a UTI because they have shorter urethras than men, so bacteria have a shorter distance to travel to reach the bladder.
Other factors may include the following:
- Body changes resulting from menopause
- Diaphragms used for birth control and using condoms with spermicidal foam
- Recent placement of a catheter tube to drain fluid from the bladder
- Anatomical abnormalities in the urinary tract
- A weakened immune system such as diabetes (high blood sugar) because the body is not able to fight off germs as well
The lining of the bladder and urethra become red and irritated, which can cause pain in your lower abdomen, pelvic area and lower back. Burning or pain when urinating is the most common symptom. You may feel like urinating more often or even leak urine. Your urine may smell bad and have a cloudy appearance.
Your kidneys are part of the upper urinary tract. Kidney infections often cause fevers and upper back pain — generally on one side or the other — as well as nausea and vomiting. A kidney infection can spread into the bloodstream and cause a life-threatening health issue, so early treatment is important.
Your healthcare provider may request a urine sample to examine under a microscope for bacteria or white blood cells. Additionally, a urine culture may be ordered to detect and identify bacteria and yeast.
Additional tests, such as an ultrasound or CT scan, may be needed to check the urinary tract.
A cystoscopy is a procedure using a fiberoptic camera to view the inside of the bladder and urethra to find causes of bleeding or blockage or any abnormalities of the bladder and its lining.
Simple UTIs can be treated with a short, three-day course of an appropriate antibiotic prescribed by your provider.
A longer course of antibiotics is given for a complicated UTI. Kidney infections are often treated as a complicated UTI. Sometimes antibiotic therapy is started intravenously (IV) in the hospital. After a short period of IV antibiotics, the antibiotics are given by mouth for up to two weeks.
Symptoms of UTIs often improve within a few days of taking antibiotics.
If you get three or more UTIs per year, your healthcare provider may order more tests.
A prostatectomy may be performed in cases of severe urinary symptoms and very enlarged prostate glands (benign prostatic hyperplasia) in men. This surgical procedure removes all or part of the prostate gland to ease urinary symptoms and complications.