Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary Tract Infection - What Is It? How Is It Diagnosed? How To Treat and Prevent It?

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Urinary Tract Infection is an infection that affects any organ or part of the urinary system. These organs include infection in the urethra, bladder, ureter, and kidney. Most UTIs affect eh bladder and urethra - this is called cystitis while having your kidney infected - this is called pyelonephritis can cause serious conditions or consequences. The most common symptoms manifest on an affected person include - pain during urination, feeling to urinate despite empty bladder. This infection is commonly caused by Escherichia coli, a bacteria that is usually found in the gastrointestinal tract but this is not the only bacteria that can cause UTI as other bacteria can cause urinary tract infection too.

Types of Urinary Tract Infection

A urinary tract infection can be identified into different types depending on which part of the urinary tract is affected. Each type has also various symptoms presented.

Acute Pyelonephritis

This type of infection affects the kidneys. The kidneys become inflamed and a person may experience fever, nausea, and pain in their flank or upper back.


Cystitis occurs when the infection occurs in the bladder. Symptoms for this include blood in urine and lower abdomen discomfort as well as painful urination.


This type of infection occurs when the infection has affected the urethra. Symptoms for urethritis include burning with urination.

Although it happens rarely, the presence of blood in urine is also a symptom of urinary tract infection.

Modes of Transmission

Urinary tract infection is not classified as a sexually transmitted infection and is not contagious however if the bacteria that caused urinary tract infection can be transferred to your partner if you engage in sexual activity and your partner might possibly acquire urinary tract infection.

Testing and Diagnosis

In some cases, there is no testing needed for a treatment to be administered to a patient; treatment is based on the symptoms and medical history of the patient. However, for complicated or new cases, there are three ways to test and diagnose a urinary tract infection. They are:


The chemical analysis of urine looks for the presence of urinary nitrites, leukocytes (white blood cells) and leukocyte esterase. The presence of these will confirm if a person is suffering from urinary tract infection and help them administer a proper treatment plan.

Urine Microscopy

This test includes the examination of urine samples under a microscope. This type of testing looks for the presence of white blood cells, red blood cells, and bacteria.

Urine Culture

Urine culture takes a long time and is only deemed necessary if the bacterial count is greater than the standard colony-forming unites of the urinary tract system.

Risk Factors

Acquiring urinary tract infection is more likely for a woman than a man, this is because of the following factors:

Anatomy of Female Urinary System

Biologically, women have shorter urethra enabling the bacteria to travel at a shorter distance to the bladder.

Usage of Birth Controls

There is a higher risk of having UTI for those who use spermicidal agents.


Changes in the estrogen level during the menopausal stage may lead to women being more vulnerable to infection.

Other general risk factors that do not only apply to women but also men include:

Urinary Tract Blockage

The blockage of urinary tracts by kidney stones or enlarged prostate may cause urine to be trapped within the bladder and thereby increase the risk of UTI.

Weakened or Suppressed Immune System

Diabetes and other conditions that cause your immune system to be weak or compromise increase the chance of a person being infected by a urinary tract infection.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are at high risk of getting Urinary Tract Infection?

Women are usually at a higher risk of getting an infection due to their biological anatomy. But in general, those who are at higher risk are those:

  • Women Who Are Sexually Active. Women who are sexually active have a higher risk of acquiring UTI.
  • People With Urinary Tract Abnormalities. People who are born with urinary tract abnormalities thereby having difficulty to urinate are more prone to having urinary tract infection.

What are the complications of having Urinary Tract Infection?

For pregnant women, having UTI can lead to premature infants or low birth weight. The physical pain and discomfort people feel during urination is a significant thing that affects a person’s life on a daily basis.

Can Urinary Tract Infection Infection be cured?

Yes. Treatment is done by administering antibiotics. The common antibiotics used are trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, nitrofurantoin, fosfomycin, cephalosporins, amoxicillin, clavulanic acid or fluoroquinolone.

I have been diagnosed with UTI, is it possible to be infected again?

Yes. Most women who have been infected with urinary tract infection have recurrent infections - it is possible to experience UTI more than three times in a year.

Are there any other symptoms presented if Urinary Tract Infection is left untreated?

Permanent Kidney Damage. If urinary tract infection is left untreated, it is possible for the infection to crawl up to the kidney and cause permanent kidney damage or chronic kidney infection.

Sepsis. A serious and life-threatening complication which is the body’s response to an infection. This occurs when the body causes a response for the chemicals to be out of balance and consequently damage multiple organs in your body.

Tips For Prevention

Drink plenty of water and fluids

Having lots of fluids in your body means, that you will have to urinate frequently and your urine is diluted. This means that the bacteria within your body has a higher chance of being flushed from your urinary tract.

Empty bladder after engaging in sexual activity

If there are bacteria acquired during sexual intercourse, drinking a glass of water and urinating as soon as possible will likely flush out the bacteria.

If using a tissue or wet wipes, wipe from front to back

Cleaning after urinating or bowel movement using a tissue or wet wipes is good to maintain good hygiene but wiping from front to back helps prevent the bacteria from the anal region - where your feces pass through to spread to the vagina.

Avoid using harsh feminine products

Feminine products that contain harsh chemicals may irritate the urethra making them susceptible to infection. Use only products that are recommended by your doctors based on your condition and medical history.

Additional Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Preventionwww.cdc.gov/hiv/basicsThe CDC provides diverse resources related to HIV and AIDS.
MedlinePluswww.medlineplus.govMedlinePlus provides valuable and high-quality information on HIV and AIDS.
NHSwww.nhs.ukNHS is the UK's biggest health website with topics related to HIV/AIDS.
National Center for Biotechnology Informationwww.ncbi.nlm.nih.govNCBI has resources on HIV/AIDS testing and procedures.
HIV InSitehivinsite.ucsf.eduHIV InSite has comprehensive, up-to-date information on HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention.


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