How Are Urinary Tract Infections 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 doesnt typically need any preparation.
- Cystoscopy: This test uses a special instrument fitted with a lens and a light source 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 . This test is much more precise than typical X-rays.
Treatment For More Severe Utis
Kids with a more severe infection may need treatment in a hospital so they can get antibiotics by injection or IV .
This might happen if:
- the child has high fever or looks very ill, or a kidney infection is likely
- the child is younger than 6 months old
- bacteria from the infected urinary tract may have spread to the blood
- the child is dehydrated or is vomiting and cannot take any fluids or medicine by mouth
Kids with VUR will be watched closely by the doctor. VUR might be treated with medicines or, less commonly, surgery. Most kids outgrow mild forms of VUR, but some can develop kidney damage or kidney failure later in life.
Uti Symptoms And Prevention
A urinary tract infection , also called bladder infection, is a bacterial inflammation in the urinary tract. Pregnant women are at increased risk for UTIs starting in week 6 through week 24 because of changes in the urinary tract. The uterus sits directly on top of the bladder. As the uterus grows, its increased weight can block the drainage of urine from the bladder, causing a urinary tract infection during pregnancy.
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Things You Can Do Yourself
To help ease symptoms of a urinary tract infection :
- takeparacetamolup to 4 times a day to reduce pain and a high temperature for people with a UTI, paracetamol is usually recommended over NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or aspirin
- you can give childrenliquid paracetamol
- rest and drink enough fluids so you pass pale urine regularly during the day
- avoid having sex
Some people take cystitis sachets or cranberry drinks and products every day to prevent UTIs from happening, which may help. However, there’s no evidence they help ease symptoms or treat a UTI if the infection has already started.
Condom Use During Sex
Non-lubricated latex condoms may increase friction and irritate the skin during sexual intercourse. This may increase the risk of a UTI.
To help prevent friction and skin irritation from condoms, be sure to use enough water-based lubricant during sex.
Avoid using condoms coated with spermicide.
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What Happens If I Dont Treat My Uti With Antibiotics Right Away
Dr. Heckler: Good question. 50-70% of bladder infections can be cleared with hydration, ibuprofen and D mannose. It is always reasonable to try this first. If your symptoms persist for longer than 5 days after starting this treatment, or you present with blood in your urine, back pain and fevers you should seek medical care. Bladder infections, other than being a pain, are not necessarily bad for you. Some can progress to a kidney infection and this certainly necessitates further assessment.
Have any other questions about UTIs? Share them in the comments!
Prevention Of Urinary Tract Infection
There are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting a UTI:
- Drink plenty of water and other liquids to help flush out bacteria.
- Urinate frequently, or about every two to three hours.
- For women: Wipe from front to back after urinating or having a bowel movement.
- Urinate before and soon after having sexual intercourse.
- Avoid synthetic underwear, tight pants, and lingering in wet gym clothes or a bathing suit. Though none of this can cause a UTI, these habits can increase the spread of bacteria.
- Avoid vaginal deodorants, douches, powders, and other potentially irritating feminine products.
- Use a method of birth control other than a diaphragm, spermicide, or unlubricated condoms.
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Other Ways To Prevent Some Utis Coming Back
If you keep getting a bladder infection , there is some evidence it may be helpful to take:
- D-mannose a sugar you can buy as a powder or tablets to take every day
- cranberry products available as juice, tablets or capsules to take every day
Speak to your doctor before taking any of these during pregnancy.
Be aware that D-mannose and cranberry products can contain a lot of sugar.
If you’re taking warfarin, you should avoid cranberry products.
Page last reviewed: 22 March 2022 Next review due: 22 March 2025
How Do I Know If The Treatment Isnt Working
If the treatment isnt working, your symptoms will stay the same, get worse, or you will develop new symptoms. Call your doctor if you have a fever , chills, lower stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting. You should also call your doctor if, after taking medicine for 3 days, you still have a burning feeling when you urinate. If you are pregnant, you should also call your doctor if you have any contractions.
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Things You Can Try Yourself
If you have mild symptoms of cystitis, it can help to:
- take paracetamol up to 4 times a day to reduce pain
- give children liquid paracetamol follow the instructions on the bottle
- drink plenty of water
- avoid drinks that may irritate your bladder, like fruit juices, coffee and alcohol
Some people take cystitis sachets or cranberry drinks and products every day to prevent cystitis from happening, which might help. However, theres no evidence they help ease symptoms or treat cystitis if the infection has already started.
Go Oftenand Never Hold It
Many bladder infections and other UTIs stem from a simple problem of holding it in. When you hold it in, you not only stress your body, you give any bacteria in your bladder or urethra more time to multiply and settle in as an infection. Its far, far more difficult for bacteria to adhere to the urinary tract if youre flushing the pipes on a regular basis. This makes it key to both prevention of infections and clearing out existing infections.
This is another reason you want to make sure youre drinking plenty of water without enough hydration, you may urinate infrequently enough to cause problems even if you dont hold it in.
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Favorite Site For Urinary Health Podcasts
Podcasts arent just for politics, laughs, and murder mysteries. The American Urological Association has a fantastic one called, aptly, the Urology Care Podcast, which covers topics like sexual health myths, UTIs, prostate cancer, and more. Currently there are more than 140 episodes to listen to, ranging from about 4 minutes to 28 minutes long.
Can Urinary Tract Infections Be Prevented Or Avoided
There are many lifestyle choices that can help you prevent UTIs. These are some of the things you can do to protect yourself from them:
- Drink plenty of water to flush out bacteria. For some people, drinking cranberry juice may also help prevent urinary tract infections. However, if youre taking warfarin, check with your doctor before using cranberry juice to prevent urinary tract infections. Your doctor may need to adjust your warfarin dose or you may need to have more frequent blood tests.
- Dont hold your urine. Urinate when you feel like you need to. Some children dont go to the bathroom often enough. If your child does this, teach him or her to go to the bathroom several times each day.
- Wipe from front to back after bowel movements. Teach your child to wipe correctly.
- Urinate after having sex to help wash away bacteria.
- Use enough lubrication during sex. Try using a small amount of lubricant before sex if youre a little dry.
- If you get urinary tract infections often, you may want to avoid using a diaphragm as a birth control method. Ask your doctor about other birth control choices.
- Avoid taking or giving your child bubble baths.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing , and dress your child in loose-fitting clothing.
- If you are uncircumcised, wash the foreskin regularly. If you have an uncircumcised boy, teach him how to wash his foreskin.
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For Those Who Experience Frequent Utis Managing Risk Factors May Help With Prevention
In some people, urinary tract infections come back again and again. Women, especially, are likely to have recurrent UTIs. While recurrences usually develop within three months of the original infection, having more than two within six months is technically considered a recurrence.
Besides precautions and at-home strategies to help prevent UTIs, sometimes antibiotics are used as a preventive measure for those with frequent UTI recurrences.
Managing risk factors by maintaining good hygiene, such as wiping from front to back for women and avoiding spermicides can lower your likelihood of repeat UTIs.
Why Do Women Get Urinary Tract Infections More Often Than Men
Women tend to get urinary tract infections more often than men because bacteria can reach the bladder more easily in women. The urethra is shorter in women than in men, so bacteria have a shorter distance to travel.
The urethra is located near the rectum in women. Bacteria from the rectum can easily travel up the urethra and cause infections. Bacteria from the rectum is more likely to get into the urethra if you wipe from back to front after a bowel movement. Be sure to teach children how to wipe correctly.
Having sex may also cause urinary tract infections in women because bacteria can be pushed into the urethra. Using a diaphragm can lead to infections because diaphragms push against the urethra and make it harder to completely empty your bladder. The urine that stays in the bladder is more likely to grow bacteria and cause infections.
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When Should I Visit The Doctor For A Bladder Infection
You should talk to a doctor if youve contracted a bladder infection for the first time. You should also seek medical advice if you develop the symptoms of an upper UTI, if your symptoms havent cleared up after a few days or are getting worse, or if you find that you are getting infections frequently.
Your doctor will be able to prescribe a short course of antibiotics such as Nitrofurantoin, which can clear up the infection within a few days.
How To Know If You Have A Bladder Infection
Bladder infections symptoms can vary across the board, but there are some you should not ignore.
Bladder Infection Symptoms
2. Frequent Urination
Visiting the restroom several times in a few hours is a good indicator of a bladder infection.
3. Feeling The Urgency to Urinate
Even after emptying your bladder, the urge to go remains.
4. Unusual Urine
If you find blood in your urine, you probably have a bladder infection. A strong odor or cloudy urine can be a symptom, too.
5. Other Symptoms
Some men and women experience fever, chills, nausea, vomiting if the infection has traveled to the kidneys.
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Duration Of Urinary Tract Infections
Once treatment has started, symptoms of simple bladder infections usually go away within one to two days, though you’ll need to continue taking any course of antibiotics as prescribed. If the infection is complicated and has spread to the kidney, it may take a week or longer before symptoms disappear.
Signs And Symptoms Of Urinary Tract Infections
UTI symptoms can vary, and it’s possible for someone who has a urinary tract infection to experience no symptoms. But for many people, UTI symptoms are uncomfortable and painful. Besides a strong, persistent urge to urinate, common symptoms include:
When a urinary tract infection moves to the kidneys, symptoms such as fever, shaking, chills, and pain in the upper back, side, or groin may occur.
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What Is The Prognosis For A Person With A Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary tract infections typically respond very well to treatment. A UTI can be uncomfortable before you start treatment, but once your healthcare provider identifies the type of bacteria and prescribes the right antibiotic medication, your symptoms should improve quickly. Its important to keep taking your medication for the entire amount of time your healthcare provider prescribed. If you have frequent UTIs or if your symptoms arent improving, your provider may test to see if its an antibiotic-resistant infection. These are more complicated infections to treat and may require intravenous antibiotics or alternative treatments.
Urinary Tract Infections In Women
UTIs are common, particularly with increasing age. Women are more likely to get a UTI than men. Nearly 1 in 3 women will have a UTI needing treatment before the age of 24.
In women, the urethra is short and straight, making it easier for germs to travel into the bladder. For some women, UTIs relate to changes in their hormonal levels. Some are more likely to get an infection during certain times in their menstrual cycle, such as just before a period or during pregnancy.
In older women, the tissues of the urethra and bladder become thinner and drier with age as well as after menopause or a hysterectomy. This can be linked to increased UTIs.
During pregnancy, the drainage system from the kidney to the bladder widens so urine does not drain as quickly. This makes it easier to get a UTI. Sometimes germs can move from the bladder to the kidney causing a kidney infection. UTIs during pregnancy can result in increased blood pressure, so it is very important to have them treated as soon as possible.
Women are more at risk of repeated UTIs if they:
- use spermicide jelly or diaphragm for contraception
- have had a new sexual partner in the last year
- had their first UTI at or before 15 years of age
- have a family history of repeated UTIs, particularly their mother
- suffer from constipation
Urinary Tract Infections In Babies And Young Children
Babies and children are at risk of UTIs. These infections always need to be investigated as they may indicate a serious underlying condition, such as urinary reflux. Reflux is caused by a bladder valve problem allowing urine to flow back into the kidneys from the bladder. Reflux can cause the urine to stay inside the body increasing the risk of infection. It may lead to kidney scarring, which in turn leads to high blood pressure and sometimes kidney problems.
Favorite Organizations For Essential Uti Info
We love the patient-friendly foundation page of the American Urological Association website. Here, youll find lots of support and educational resources for those with urological issues. Our favorite part is that all your must-know info can come straight to your mailbox: UCF offers free subscriptions to its UrologyHealth Extra magazine.
This no-nonsense clearinghouse is run by the National Institutes of Health, and provides gobs of information on urinary tract infections from the National Library of Medicine. We especially like that you can easily find the latest published research on UTIs and that theres a quick link to current clinical trials for those who are interested.
The CDC is a trusted go-to source for the writers and editors of Everyday Health, thanks to their commitment to science-based research and reporting. What makes the CDC a particularly helpful resource for urinary tract infection information is the fact that their antibiotics and treatment guidelines for UTIs are always up-to-date.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Do I need any tests, such as urinalysis?
- What is the likely cause of my urinary tract infection ?
- Do I need medicine? How should I take it?
- What are the possible side effects of the medicine?
- When should I expect relief from my symptoms?
- What symptoms would indicate that my infection is getting worse? What should I do if I experience these symptoms?
- I get UTIs a lot. What can I do to prevent them?
- Do I need preventive antibiotics? If so, should I be concerned about antibiotic resistance?
- My child gets UTIs a lot. Could an anatomical problem be causing his or her UTIs?
Eating Diet & Nutrition
Experts dont think eating, diet, and nutrition play a role in preventing or treating bladder infections. If you have any type of UTI, talk with a health care professional about how much to drink each day to help prevent or relieve your infection.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and other components of the National Institutes of Health conduct and support research into many diseases and conditions.
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What Are The Signs Of A Bladder Infection
Reviewed by our clinical team
A bladder infection is a common condition normally caused by the growth of bacteria in the urinary tract. It typically causes mild urinary symptoms that pass on their own within a few days, however it can sometimes spread to the kidneys causing more serious symptoms. A bladder infection falls under the category of a UTI and is also known as cystitis. You may also hear it referred to as a water infection.