Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
What is a UTI?
A UTI is a bacterial infection of the urinary tract. It is most common in the bladder. It can include infection of the kidneys as well. This is pyelonephritis.
- Pain with urination
- Increase in urination
- Urgent need to urinate
- Loss of urine (incontinence)
- Lower back pain
A physician diagnoses an infection by testing a urine specimen (a urinalysis). This is to look for bacteria and cells that fight infection.
Risk for UTI
Girls and Women are more at risk than men because of the shorter distance to the bladder. Other risks include constipation and poor hygiene.
Treatment for UTIs
Treatment is antibiotics. Urine cultures are often obtained to know the exact bacteria causing the infection. This can also help determine the correct antibiotic. It the infection progresses to the kidney (pyelonephritis), hospitalization is sometimes required. Intravenous antibiotics and fluids treat this more severe infection.
Treatment for UTIs
Some people have many UTIs. There can be ways to prevent this. These methods include:
- Drinking more water
- Avoiding spermicides
- Vaginal Estrogen after menopause
- Some people need daily antibiotics
UTI in Children
Sometimes, children will get UTIs, especially girls in diapers or potty training. Children also frequently have constipation, which puts them at risk for UTIs because it prevents bladder emptying. Some younger children are treated in the hospital with IV antibiotics. Children under 2 with fever and UTI require further work-up as well.
UTI in pregnancy
UTIs are only treated if there is bacteria plus symptoms. This is different in pregnancy. Because of risk of infections in mom and infant, bacteria in the urine is treated even if there are no symptoms.
UTI in Geriatrics
The elderly are especially prone to atypical symptoms with UTI. Bacterial infections are a very common cause of confusion. This is especially true in people who already have dementia. Elderly men are also at risk as they have more prostate disease. This enlargement of the prostate prevents completely emptying the bladder of urine.
Can a UTI lead to bleeding in the urine?
Bladder infections (acute cystitis) can lead to blood in the urine. Other things can cause blood as well. A physician should always see you if you have blood in your urine.
Can cranberry prevent or treat UTIs?
There are conflicting studies. It is unlikely to help but even less likely to hurt if you feel that it helps.
Will a UTI go away on its own?
This is very unlikely and most often requires antibiotics to improve.
Can drinking more water treat a UTI?
Drinking more water can dilute the urine and help with symptoms and help prevent UTIs. It is not recommended as the only treatment for an active infection though.
Can sex cause UTIs?
Sexual activity can introduce bacteria that cause UTIs. Urinating after may help with preventing UTIs but the evidence is not great. There is no harm in attempting this to prevent UTIs.