OverviewA urinary tract infection of the bladder is far more common than an infection in any other part of the urinary tract. This type of infection is easily treated with a short course of antibiotics, usually lasting three days. A urinary tract infection or UTI in the kidneys is somewhat less common, and requires a longer course of antibiotics. Females are more likely to get urinary tract infections than males.
Symptoms of urinary tract infection in bladder
- Pain or burning when urinating
- Frequent need to urinate
- Urgent need to urinate
- Blood in the urine
- Discomfort in the middle of the lower abdomen
Symptoms of UTI in kidney
- Flank, side or back pain
- Blood in the urine
- Nausea or vomiting
CausesThe urinary tract is normally sterile and does not have bacteria present. If bacteria enter the urinary tract, they multiply and cause a urinary tract infection. E. coli is the most common bacteria causing urinary tract infections
Some women are prone to recurring episodes of bladder infections and the risk increases with the following:
- Sexual activity
- Use of spermicides, particularly in combination with a diaphragm
- Genetic factors, which enhance bacterial adherence to the cells of the urinary tract
- A new sex partner
Underlying conditions, such as an indwelling bladder catheter, a recent procedure involving the urinary tract, anatomic abnormality of the urinary tract and a neurogenic bladder may sometimes lead to UTIs that are more complicated than simple bladder infections. Pregnancy, diabetes, older age (more than 65 years old), or any blockage of the urinary tract may also cause a urinary tract infection. In addition, males who engage in anal intercourse are more likely to have urinary infections.
DiagnosisA history of painful urination, urgency and frequency may indicate a urinary tract infection. Your health-care provider will test the urine to determine the type of bacteria and which antibiotic best treats that bacteria. You may be examined for presence of fever or flank pain, which would suggest the possibility of a kidney infection.
If tests show no evidence of an infection despite painful urination, urgency and frequency, your health-care provider may recommend a treatment other than antibiotics.
ComplicationsThere are very few complications related to the most common urinary tract infection, which is a bladder infection. Bladder infections do not lead to kidney infections in healthy urinary tracts without anatomic abnormalities.
RecoveryIf using spermicides and diaphragm for contraception, you might want to explore other contraceptive methods if you’re plagued by urinary tract infections. Please discuss this with your health-care provider, too.
Research has not proven that maintaining a good fluid intake or emptying the bladder after intercourse is helpful, but doctors often recommend these activities, since they seem to make a difference with some patients. In a small research study, cranberry decreased the bacterial adherence to the cells of the urinary tract. The cranberry, however, did not clearly reduce the number of UTIs. Research related to cranberry is ongoing. It is reasonable to try cranberry tablets and evaluate whether there is reduced urinary tract infections.
Patients with cultures documenting recurrent urinary tract infections may be offered treatment with a daily low-dose antibiotic for UTI suppression for six months. If urinary tract infections are related to sexual activity, a low-dose antibiotic taken at the time of intercourse is helpful. Alternately, self-treatment with antibiotics is occasionally recommended when urine cultures are consistently positive.
Patients without UTIs who have symptoms of urgency, frequency and painful urination with negative urine cultures can stop cranberry intake and determine if their symptoms improve.