Urinary Tract Infection

Definition of Urinary Tract İnfection

Also known by the names of Acute Cystitis or bladder infection, Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is an infection that affects part of urinary tract.

Urinary tract infection is more common in women than in men. Nearly half of women suffer from at least one kind of infection in their life. Recurrence of the condition is common and the risk factors mainly include

  • Sexual intercourse

  • Family history

  • Improper hygiene

  • Hospitalization

  • Surgery of abdomen or pelvis

Urinary tract infections are classified in two i.e.

  • Simple infections, occurring in only urinary tract and also they do not spread in body. Condition goes away without medical treatment.

  • Complicated infections; caused by anatomic abnormalities and tend to spread in the body.

In a natural way, urinary tract extends above into the kidney, so a common spread is towards the kidney. They are resistant to antibiotics and are difficult to cure.


Cause of Urinary Tract Infection

Urine is sterile and an infection only occurs when a bacteria enters into the urine and begin to grow. The infection normally starts at the opening of urethra where urine leaves the body and moves upward into the urinary tract. Following are the causes for UTI.

  • The main cause for UTI is a type of bacteria known as Escherichia coli (E. coli). These bacteria are normally found around in the colon.

  • Urinating tends to flush all the bacteria out of urethra. If there are too many bacteria then urinating may not be of any help.

  • Bacteria travel up to the bladder and can cause infection in the kidney leading to the pyelonephritis.

  • In young women who are sexually active, staphylococcus saprophyticus  is the cause of bladder infections. During early marriage a frequent UTI is named as Honeymoon Cystitis.

  • With menopause women’s estrogen levels decrease and her risk for UTI increases.

  • Urinary catheterization is also one of the causes for UTI.


Signs and Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection

The signs and symptoms of UTI according to classification is as follows.

Lower Urinary Tract Infection:

The symptoms for this condition are as follows.

  • Dysuria, pain or burning sensation during urination.

  • Frequent urination

  • Nocturia

  • Not being able to freely or completely urinate

  • Pain in lower abdomen

  • Blood colored urine

  • Mild fever accompanied with chills

Upper Urinary Tract Infection:

Symptoms develop rapidly. It may or may not include symptoms of lower UTI. Symptoms for upper UTI are as follows.

  • High fever i.e. higher than 101 degree F.

  • Chills

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Pain in back side above waistline. The pain is called Flank Pain.

Symptoms of UTI can resemble with those of Sexually transmitted diseases.


Risk Factors for Urinary Tract Infection

Following are some of the risk factors for UTI.

  • People who have kidney stones or an enlarged prostate are at risk for developing UTI.

  • People who suffer with conditions that cause incomplete emptying of bladder are also at risk for UTI. Common example of such conditions is Spinal cord injury or bladder decomposition after menopause.

  • People who have suppressed immune systems due to conditions like diabetes are at risk for developing UTI. The body’s defense against germs is decreased.

  • Women using Diaphragm for birth control are also at risk.

  • Use of spermicidal agents in women also puts them at risk.

Some special groups who are at increased risk for developing UTI are as follows.

  • Infants

  • Young children

  • Hospitalized patients or nursing home residents


Diagnosis of Urinary Tract Infection


Diagnosis of UTI is based upon the following.                   

  • Medical history

  • Symptoms

  • Habits

  • Lifestyle


Complete diagnosis is carried out by physical examination and lab tests. Following are some of the diagnostic approaches performed by doctors.

  • A sample of urine is taken for testing the signs of infection like presence of white blood cells or bacteria. This lab test is called Urinalysis. Sometimes the urine sample is cultured to make the strong diagnosis.

  • Blood test is only needed in cases of Pyelonephritis or kidney failure.

Diagnosis in women:

Depending upon the symptoms young sexually active women require pelvic examination. This is because pelvic infection has symptoms similar to that of UTI.  

Diagnosis in men:

Men mostly require a rectal examination to check the prostate.

Other diagnostic approaches are as follows.

  • Ultrasound examination

  • Fluoroscopic study

  • Cystoscopy

  • CT Scan


Prevention from Urinary Tract Infection

Following are some of the measures to prevent the Urinary Tract Infection.

  • Urinate immediately after intercourse.

  • Use of proper hygiene methods after urinating or defecating.

  • There is lack of evidence in following conditions but tends to prevent UTI.

    • Holding one’s urine

    • Tampon use

    • Douching

  • Women using spermicide or birth control pills should use alternative methods.


Treatment of Urinary Tract Infection

The main treatment for UTI is use of antibiotics. The treatment for UTI based on condition are as follows.

Asymptomatic bacterial UTI:

Patients who have bacteria in urine but no symptoms must not be treated with antibiotics. The patients are normally the following.

  • Old people

  • People with spinal cord injuries

  • People who have Catheters.

Pregnant women however should take 7 days of antibiotics. If not treated then mothers are at risk for developing Pyelonephritis.


Uncomplicated UTI are easily diagnosed on symptoms alone. Only oral antibiotics show the results and are as follows.

  • Cephalosporins

  • Nitrofurantoin

  • Fluoroquinolone

  • Trimethoprim


Urinary tract infection, if not taken care of in its early stages, leads to the infections of kidney that require more aggressive medical evaluation for treatment. This infection of kidney is called Pyelonephritis, thus compromising the kidney functions. Pyelonephritis requires more aggressive treatments like administration of intravenous antibiotics in addition to the oral drugs.

If the resistance rate is less than 10% then Oral Fluoroquinolones are used. Ciprofloxacin is used for seven days. If the rate of resistance is greater than that of 10% then intravenous Ceftriaxone is used.