According to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse , urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the second most common type of infection in the body. A UTI is an infection in any part of your urinary system. While normal urine contains no bacteria, bacteria from outside the body can sometimes get into the urinary tract and cause infection or inflammation.
In this section you can find more information about UTIs, as well as the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options available for this infection. To learn about some simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing urinary tract infections, see our Prevention page.
A urinary tract infection causes inflammation in the lining of the bladder and urethra. This can produce a number of different symptoms, such as:
The urinary tract makes and stores urine, one of the waste products of your body. Urine is produced in the kidneys through the removal of waste and water from the blood, and travels down the ureters to the bladder. The bladder serves as a storage container for urine, which is then emptied by urinating through the urethra – a tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body. The urethra connects to the end of the penis in a male and connects to an area above the vagina in a female.
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system. While normal urine contains no bacteria, bacteria from outside the body can sometimes get into the urinary tract and cause infection or inflammation. The infection can involve the urethra (a condition called urethritis), kidneys (a condition called pyelonephritis), or bladder (a condition called cystitis). Cystitis is the most common type of urinary tract infection.
UTIs are often categorised as:
According to the American Urological Association , the two main ways to diagnose a urinary tract infection (UTI) is via urinalysis and urine culture. However, if you are experiencing fevers or persistent symptoms despite therapy, imaging tests or a cystoscopy may also be required to assess the urinary tract for injury or disease.
Antibiotics, medicines that kill bacteria, are used to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs). The type, dose and length of the antibiotic treatment depend on your health condition and the type of bacteria causing the infection. Commonly used antibiotics include:
In most cases, symptoms clear up within a few days. However, you should complete the full course of medication prescribed for you to ensure the infection is completely gone – even if all symptoms have been relieved. Unless UTIs are fully treated, they can frequently return. You should also remember to drink plenty of liquids, especially water.
For an uncomplicated UTI that occurs when you're otherwise healthy, your doctor may recommend a shorter course of treatment, such as a three-day course of oral antibiotics.
If you have a history of frequent urinary tract infections, you may be given a prescription for antibiotics that you would take at the first onset of symptoms. Other patients may be given antibiotics to take every day, every other day, or after sexual intercourse to prevent the infection.
For severe infections, such as a kidney infection, you may need treatment in a hospital. These infections take longer to treat and antibiotics are usually given intravenously (through a tube in the vein).
There are some simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing urinary tract infections. These include: