A urinary tract infection or UTI is usually an infection of the bladder “cystitis” by bacteria that normally live in the intestinal tract or vagina.
When the infection involves the kidney, it is termed “pyelonephritis.” Bladder infections are more common in women, as are kidney infections.
Symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection
Individuals with a urinary tract infection usually experience dysuria (painful urination), hematuria (blood in urine), frequent urination, urinary urgency (sudden need to urinate), and even urinary leakage (incontinence).
Lower abdominal pressure and pain may be present. Back or flank pain accompanied by fever and nausea usually signify that the kidney is infected, as well.
Evaluation and Treatment
A history and physical examination are very important in evaluating individuals with a urinary tract infection. The most common lab test used to diagnosis a urinary tract infection is a urine culture. A urine sample is given to the physician and allows identification of the offending bacteria. Antibiotics are usually given for 3-5 days to eliminate the infection.
If urinary tract infections are frequent or persistent, radiographic imaging may be recommended to help determine what is contributing to, or causing, the infection (variations in urinary tract anatomy or kidney stones).
Urinary tract infections in infants and young children are usually evaluated with radiographic imaging after the first episode of a urinary tract infection associated with fever.
A cystoscopy (small camera inserted into the bladder) may also be performed to help identify the cause of the infection and help prevent future infections.