What is a urinary tract infection (UTI)?
UTIs are common infections that happen when bacteria, often from the skin or rectum, enter the urethra (urethritis) and infect the urinary tract. The infections can affect several parts of the urinary tract, but the most common type is a bladder infection (cystitis). Kidney infections (pyelonephritis) are another type of UTI. They’re less common but more serious than bladder infections.
Your doctor will determine if you have a UTI by asking about symptoms, doing a physical examination, and ordering urine tests, if needed.
- UTIs are more common in women and girls because their urethras are shorter and closer to the rectum, which makes it easier for bacteria to enter the urinary tract.
- A previous UTI
- Sexual activity, and especially a new sexual partner
- Changes in the bacteria that live inside the vagina (vaginal flora)
- Age (older adults and young children are more likely to get UTIs)
- Structural problems in the urinary tract, such as prostate enlargement
- Poor hygiene, particularly in children who are potty-training
Symptoms of a UTI can include:
- Pain or burning while urinating
- Frequent urination
- Feeling the need to urinate despite having an empty bladder
- Bloody urine
- Pressure or cramping in the groin or lower abdomen
- Lower back pain or pain in the side of your back
- Nausea or vomiting
Sometimes other illnesses, such as sexually transmitted diseases, have symptoms like UTIs. Your doctor can determine if a UTI or different illness is causing your symptoms and determine the best treatment.
- UTIs are caused by bacteria and are treated with antibiotics.
- If you are prescribed antibiotics, take them exactly as your doctor tells you.
- Drink plenty of water or other fluids. Your doctor might also recommend medicine to help lessen the pain or discomfort.
- Talk with your doctor and pharmacist if you have any questions about your antibiotics.
You can help prevent UTIs by doing the following:
- Urinate after sexual activity.
- Stay well hydrated and urinate regularly.
- Take showers instead of baths.
- Minimize douching, sprays, or powders in the genital area.
- Teach girls when potty training to wipe front-to-back.
When to Seek Medical Care at eMedical Urgent Care
See a doctor if you have symptoms of a UTI. While most cases of UTIs can be treated at the eMedical Urgent Care, some cases may need to be treated in the hospital.
Please see your doctor for any symptom that is severe or concerning.
See a doctor right away if your child is younger than 3 months old and has a fever of 100.4F (38C) or higher.