Urinary Tract Infection (UTI): Symptoms, & Treatment


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What is UTI?

A urinary tract infection occurs when microbes gets into any part of the urinary tract, i.e. the kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra. 

Commonly UTI occurs mainly in the urethra (urethritis) and bladder (cystitis) i.e. the lower urinary tract. In severe and rare cases however, UTI can also occur in the upper urinary tract. Infection in the upper urinary tract generally affects the kidneys (pyelonephritis) and at times the ureters. 

Most of the UTIs are caused by bacteria and some are caused byfungi or viruses. 

What are the causes and risk factors of UTI?

Urinary tract infections occur when microbes (bacteria, fungi, viruses) enter the urinary tract and start multiplying in the bladder. The risk factors include:

  • Having sex with an infected partner
  • Constipation- which does not allow the bladder to be completely empty and thus giving time to the trapped bacteria to grow
  • Diabetes- since excess sugar is removed through urine making the environment favourable for bacterial overgrowth
  • Holding urine for more than six hours which gives time for the bacteria to grow
  • Dehydration- since the body is not getting enough water to flush out the bacteria
  • Using dirty sanitary pads or tampons during menstruation
  • Kidney stones- which can block the urinary tract and stop the urine from flowing out giving plenty of time to the bacteria to grow

What are the types of UTI?

The different types of UTI can include:

  • urethritis – infection of the urethra
  • cystitis – infection of the bladder
  • pyelonephritis – infection of the kidneys
  • vaginitis – infection of the vagina

What are the symptoms of UTI?

UTIs can have specific symptoms depending on which area of the urinary tract has been infected:

How is UTI diagnosed?

If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above repeatedly you need to visit a general practitioner. Based on the seriousness of your symptoms the general practitioner may refer you to a urologist or a nephrologist for evaluation. The tests and procedures used to diagnose urinary tract infections include:

  • Urine test, i.e. analyzing the urine sample in a lab
  • Urine culture, ie. growing urinary tract bacteria in a lab to find out what kind of bacteria are causing the infection
  • Ultrasound
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Cystoscopy

What are the complications of UTI?

Complications of UTI are not common but can be serious when they occur. They include:

  • Prostatitis in men (inflammation or swelling of the prostate gland)
  • Kidney infection (also known as pyelonephritis, when bacteria travel from the bladder to the kidneys)
  • Kidney failure (for example when kidney stones block the urine flow)
  • Blood poisoning (when bacteria spread from the kidneys into the bloodstream and then cause the infection to spread to any part of the body including major organs)

What is the treatment for UTI?

The treatment and length of treatment of UTIs depend on the type of microbe causing the UTI, the severity of your condition, and your overall health condition (i.e. if you have any other health conditions such as diabetes etc.). 

The doctor may prescribe antibiotics and in cases of severe UTIs, the doctor may suggest hospitalization to administer intravenous antibiotics.

Would you like to consult a doctor for Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) ?

Questions answered by trusted doctors

Verified User
Suffering from UTIs again and again what is the partment solution ? Dr suggest me to take ciplox5 but once in a month i am suffering from it specially when i had sex without using protection
Dr. Jagat Shah
Homoeopath, Mumbai
Hi one of the option is u can start homoeopathy treatment too as it does has good medicine which will help u.
Dr. Satish Sawale
Ayurveda, Navi Mumbai
Though it's unfortunate,  usually its called honeymoon cystitis, demands thorough examination n investigations , it may be due to vitiated pitta hurting you,  reduce salty  n sour food n drinks and nightlife or shifts.
Dr. Veena Vidyasagar
Gynecologist, Bangalore
Dear Practo user, It is not possible to answer your question without knowing full details and without local examination. Local examination by Gynaecologist is required in your case. Urine routine examination, Urine culture, Blood sugar studies and Ultrasound are some of the investigations which should be performed in cases of repeated UTIs. Long term treatment is usually given on daily basis.
Verified User
I’m pretty sure i have a UTI, but i’m 14 and too scared to tell either of my parents. I just need some advice or some way to fix it or get rid of it.
Dr. Astha Agarwal
Gynecologist, Ghaziabad
U should discuss it with ur parents.
Drink lots of water.
If u r sexually active rule out vaginal infection too.
Syrup alkasol 2tsf twice with glass of water for 3 to 4 days may help..
Verified User
Suffering from uti and it's reoccurring.get relief for sometime but then agn it comes back In the month of March I had severe uti n it wz cured by consulting a doc and taking antibiotics.but nw agn m suffering from the same
Dr. Anil Kumar Sanwal
Urologist, Jhansi
Recurrence of urinary tract infection is quite common in young females.
Get urine culture and sensitivity test done along with the ultrasonography of abdomen especially for the KUB region and post void residual urine to further characterise your problem.
Long term maintenance therapy may be required.
Consult a urologist for clinical examination as well
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Did you know?

Women more susceptible

Women are more likely to get UTIs than men. . Since both the vagina and rectum are so close to the urethra, it makes it easier for bacteria to move from one to the other. Women also have a shorter urethra than men, so bacteria have a shorter distance to travel to up and to the bladder.

Sex a common cause

During sexual intercourse, all the rubbing and touching can easily transfer bacteria from your back to your front. These bacteria then move up into the urethra. This is why passing urine after having sex is important, so you can flush out any bacteria from the urethra before it has a chance to move up through the urinary tract.

Always wipe front to back

After you wash yourself following a bowel movement or peeing wipe front to back not vice versa. If you wipe back to front, you can colonize your urethra (and vagina) with bacteria from your rectum—specifically, E. Coli and help them thrive.

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Home Remedies

Drink Plenty of Water

One of the first things to do when you have a urinary tract infection is drink plenty of water. That’s because drinking water can help flush away the bacteria that's causing your infection.

Avoid Taking Irritants

Avoid taking caffeine, alcohol, spicy food, nicotine, carbonated drinks, and artificial sweeteners can irritate your bladder further, making it harder for your body to heal.

Take Foods Rich In Vitamin C

Getting plenty of foods high in vitamin C is important because large amounts of vitamin C make urine more acidic. This inhibits the growth of bacteria in your urinary tract.

Use Heat Pads

Apply a heating pad around your pubic area to soothe the sensation of burning, pressure, and pain. Do not apply it directly to the skin, and limit your use to 15 minutes at a time to avoid burns.

Stay Clean and Dry

Women especially while suffering from UTIs should wipe from front to back, after a bowel movement. This ensures that bacteria doesn’t get into the urethra. It’s also important to wear loose-fitting clothes and underwear, which allows air to keep the urethra dry.

Have Garlic Cloves

Have at least 3-4 slices of raw garlic before going to bed  or in empty stomach early morning. Garlic contains allicin and has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties that not only reduce UTI problem but eliminate its cause, i.e., the E. coli bacteria, which is the prime reason for this disease. You will be able to see an improvement with the urinary tract infection.