Hopkins ABX Guide

Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary tract infection (UTI) refers to a bacterial infection of one or multiple parts of the urinary tract: urethra, bladder or/and kidneys. Most often affecting women, UTI can cause a great deal of discomfort but it generally isn’t dangerous. However, the bacteria can cause serious complications if spreading to kidneys.

Signs and Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection

It is possible to have UTI without developing any signs or symptoms. Most patients, however, experience one or more of the following symptoms:

Listed below are signs and symptoms which indicate that the infection may have spread to kidneys:

Causes of Urinary Tract Infection

UTI is caused by a bacterial infection, most often by Escherichia coli. The latter is a part of the gastrointestinal flora and is responsible for most cases of cystitis or infection of the bladder. Cystitis can also be triggered by sexual intercourse although it can affect women who aren’t sexually active as well.

A common cause of UTI - especially infection of the urethra or urethritis - are also other gastrointestinal bacteria that can spread to the urethra from anus, and sexually transmitted bacteria such as chlamydia.

Who is at Increased Risk of Urinary Tract Infection?

As mentioned earlier, women are more likely to develop UTI because of their anatomy, more specifically shorter urethra than in men. Other factors that increase the risk of developing UTI include being sexually active, having a weakened immune system, using a catheter to drain urine from the bladder, being in post-menopause, and using diaphragm or spermicides.

How is Urinary Tract Infection Treated?

UTI typically requires antibiotic treatment. If starting the therapy early, the infection usually resolves in a few days, while the symptoms may go away in a day or two, depending on severity of the infection. The type of antibiotics and duration of treatment depend on severity and type of bacteria causing the infection.

Severe UTI may require hospitalisation and intravenous administration of antibiotics.