Urinary Tract Infections
A urinary traction infection (UTI) is a very common type of infection in your urinary system. A UTI can involve any part of your urinary system, including the urethra, ureters, bladder and kidneys. Symptoms typically include needing to urinate often, having pain when urinating and feeling pain in your side or lower back. Most UTIs can be treated with an antibiotic.
What is a urinary tract infection (UTI)?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the urinary system. This type of infection can involve your urethra (a condition called urethritis), kidneys (a condition called bladder, (a condition called cystitis).
Your urine typically doesn’t contain bacteria (germs). Urine is a byproduct of our filtration system—the kidneys. When waste products and excess water is removed from your blood by the kidneys, urine is created. Normally, urine moves through your urinary system without any contamination. However, bacteria can get into the urinary system from outside of the body, causing problems like infection and inflammation. This is a urinary tract infection (UTI).
What is the urinary tract?
The urinary tract makes and stores urine, one of the body's liquid waste products. The urinary tract includes the following parts:
These small organs are located on back of your body, just above the hips.
A sac-like container, the bladder stores your urine before it leaves the body.
The ureters are thin tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to your bladder.
This tube carries the urine from your bladder to the outside of the body.
How are urinary tract infections (UTIs) diagnosed?
Your doctor will use the following tests to diagnose a urinary tract infection:
Urinalysis: This test will examine the urine for red blood cells, white blood cells and bacteria. The number of white and red blood cells found in your urine can actually indicate an infection.
Urine culture: A urine culture is used to determine the type of bacteria in your urine. This is an important test because it helps determine the appropriate treatment.
If your infection does not respond to treatment or if you keep getting infections over and over again, your doctor may use the following tests to examine your urinary tract for disease or injury:
Ultrasound: In this test, sound waves create an image of the internal organs. This test is done on top of your skin, is painless and doesn’t typically need any preparation.
Cystoscopy: This test uses a special instrument fitted with a lens and a light source (cystoscope) to see inside the bladder from the urethra.
CT scan: Another imaging test, a CT scan is a type of X-ray that takes cross sections of the body (like slices). This test is much more precise than typical X-rays.
How are urinary tract infections (UTI) treated?
You will need to treat a urinary tract infection. Antibiotics are medicines that kill bacteria and fight an infection. Antibiotics are typically used to treat urinary tract infections. Your healthcare provider will pick a drug that best treats the particular bacteria that’s causing your infection. Some commonly used antibiotics can include:
Sulfonamides (sulfa drugs).
Quinolones (such as ciprofloxacin [Cipro®]).
It’s very important that you follow your healthcare provider’s directions for taking the medicine. Don’t stop taking the antibiotic because your symptoms go away and you start feeling better. If the infection is not treated completely with the full course of antibiotics, it can return.
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. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best treatment option for you if you have a history of frequent UTIs.