A urinary tract infection, or UTI, is an infection of the urethra, a long, thin tube through which urine is expelled from the bladder during urination. This tube is normally sterile, but can be colonized by certain species of bacteria, including Escherichia coli, or E. coli. Urinary tract infections, also called cystitis, can cause very painful and unpleasant symptoms, but most cases of UTI are easily treated.
Urinary tract infections are extremely common, particularly among women. An estimated 20% of women will have at least one UTI, but this figure is much lower in men. This is largely because the male urethra is much longer than the female urethra. Symptoms of UTIs include a burning sensation during urination, bladder pain, and a feeling of bladder fullness even when the bladder is empty. It is also common to frequently feel an urgent need to urinate, but be unable to do so. Some people may experience mild fever and chills.
The standard urinary infection treatment for an isolated UTI is a course of antibiotics. Providing the person with the infection takes the full course of antibiotics, this treatment will cure most cases. Along with antibiotics, most doctors will recommend plenty of fluids as an additional urinary infection treatment. Despite the pain experienced during urination, fluids are important to help flush bacteria out of the urethra.
For people who experience frequent urinary tract infection, or who have diseases which may predispose them to complications, further treatment may be required. People with kidney disease, kidney infection, or diabetes may require additional treatment or hospitalization. It is particularly important that people with these types of diseases take a full course of antibiotics as recommended by their doctors, to help prevent chronic infection.
Chronic urinary infection treatment may include a series of diagnostic tests, such as CT and ultrasound, to rule out other cause of urinary problems. Recurrent infections can sometimes indicate problems such as kidney stones or kidney disease, which may have previously remained undiagnosed. When chronic urinary infection is caused by an underlying disease, treating the disease will normally prevent future UTI episodes.
Some women experience chronic infections with no underlying cause. Urinary infection treatment for chronic UTI may involve a course of up to six months of low-dose antibiotics. Women who are susceptible to infection may also take some preventative measures. Taking care to keep the urogenital area clean is an important preventative step. This includes cleaning the urogenital area before and after intercourse, and wiping from front to back after a bowel movement. Feminine hygiene products such as sprays and douches should also be avoided, as they tend to irritate the urethra.