Urinary tract infections are common and may occur in men, women and children. A urinary tract infection happens when bacteria enter the opening of the urethra then grow and multiply in the urinary tract. The urinary tract consists of the urethra, kidneys and bladder. Urinary tract infections that develop into kidney infections can become painful and serious.
The prostate gland produces secretions that slow bacterial growth in men. Immune defenses prevent infection in men and women. But despite these safeguards, infections still occur. Certain bacteria are able to attach themselves to the lining of the urinary tract. Women tend to get UTIs more often because their urethra is shorter and closer to the anus than in men.
The urinary tract makes and stores urine, which is a waste product of the body. Urine is made in the kidneys and travels down the ureters to the bladder, where it is stored until you need to empty the liquid. Emptying the bladder occurs through the urethra, a tube connecting the bladder to the outside of your body.
Normal urine is sterile and contains no bacteria. Certain strong bacteria are able to attach themselves to the lining of the urinary tract. In both sexes, immune defenses also prevent infection.
Did you know?
In men, UTIs can be related to prostate issues, making UTIs more difficult to treat. An enlarged prostate, which is common in aging men, limits the body’s ability to pass urine, due to the pressure the prostate puts on by restricting the urethra. Repeated UTIs may indicate prostatitis , epididymitis, or another urinary tract problem.
- More than 8.1 million provider visits are related to UTIs each year.
- 40% of women and 12% of men will experience at least 1 symptomatic UTI.
- Typical areas of the genitourinary tract where a UTI might happen are in kidneys, bladder, or urethra.
- If you partner has an infection while you’re being intimate, then your risk of infection increases. In addition, anal sex increases UTI risk due to bacteria spreading.
In many cases, UTIs are overlooked as other conditions. If you notice any of the symptoms below, you should contact your healthcare provider:
- A persistent urge to urinate
- A feeling that you’re not fully done urinating even if no urine is released
- A burning sensation when urinating
- Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
- Urine that appears cloudy
- Urine that appears red, pink or brown (sign of blood present)
- Strong-smelling urine
- Pelvic pain, in women
- Rectal pain, in men
- Scrotal pain or tenderness
Symptoms are different in different parts of the genitourinary tract, and may include:
Kidneys: upper back pain, high fever, nausea, vomiting, chills
Bladder: pelvic pressure, lower abdomen discomfort
- Drink plenty of liquids throughout the day because this flushes your system, keeps it running smoothly and regularly releases urine in the bladder.
- When you have the urge to use the restroom, do it! Holding urine increases the risk.
- Don’t have sex with a partner who has UTI symptoms or has been diagnosed with a UTI recently.
- Maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen. If you have a weak immune system you are more susceptible to UTIs because you have a lower defense system against infection. Your body thereby is unable to fight the germs that could be around your urethra.
- Urine: A sample of urine is collected and sent to a lab for tests to learn what germ is causing your infection.
- Blood: You may need blood tests to check if you have a prostate infection.
- Imaging: If treatment provided doesn’t decrease the symptoms, cure you, or if the UTI reoccurs, then you may need imaging tests. Imaging tests are pictures of your urinary tract that may show if your infection is in your kidneys or if you have damage, blockages, or other problems in your urinary tract.
Questions to Ask Your Health Care Provider
- How do I know this is a UTI?
- Is there anything I can do to naturally treat a UTI?
- Can my partner/significant other catch a UTI if I have one?
- Can I have sex with a UTI?
- What types of treatment are available?
- How long will it take before I’m cured?
Antibiotics are used to treat UTIs. You might be prescribed other urinary tract medicines to decrease pain or burning you experience during urination and to stop the urge of frequent urination.
A UTI should pass within 24-48 hours if you follow the advice of your provider and take the fully prescribed medication. Do not stop when you think you’ve been cured.