Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Symptoms: Signs & Treatment

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in the urinary system. This system includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.1 UTIs are very common, especially among women. About 50% of women will have a UTI at least once in their life.2

UTIs cause many symptoms like a burning feeling when peeing, needing to pee often, and cloudy or bloody urine. Pelvic pain can also occur. Quick treatment with antibiotics is crucial. It helps clear the infection and stops complications. In this article, we’ll cover UTI symptoms, causes, and treatment options.

Key Takeaways

  • UTIs are highly prevalent, with 50% of women experiencing at least one UTI in their lifetime.
  • Women have a higher risk of developing UTIs due to their shorter urethra and other anatomical factors.
  • Prompt treatment with antibiotics is crucial to prevent serious complications like kidney damage or sepsis.
  • Maintaining good hygiene and staying hydrated can help lower the risk of developing a UTI.
  • Antibiotic resistance is a growing concern, making it important to complete the full course of prescribed treatment.

What is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?

The urinary system removes waste and water from our bodies through urine.1 It includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. A UTI happens when an infection occurs in any part of this system.1 UTIs are categorized by where the infection is: cystitis (bladder infection), pyelonephritis (kidney infection), and urethritis (urethra infection). Cystitis, a bladder infection, is the most common UTI. It’s often caused by bacteria like E. coli.1 If a UTI spreads to the kidneys, known as pyelonephritis, it’s more serious. This condition can harm the kidneys permanently if not treated.

Overview of the Urinary System

The urinary system is vital for keeping us healthy. It filters waste and water from our blood, stores it, and then releases it through urine. This system includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra, each with its own job.

Types of UTIs

UTIs can occur in different parts of the urinary system. The common types are:

  • Cystitis: A bladder infection, often caused by bacteria like E. coli.1
  • Pyelonephritis: A kidney infection that can harm the kidneys if not treated.1
  • Urethritis: An infection of the urethra, the tube for carrying urine out of the body.

Knowing about the types of UTIs and their symptoms is important. It helps in getting the right medical help. This also aids in preventing more severe issues.1

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Symptoms

UTIs trigger various symptoms, based on where they are in the urinary system. It’s key to spot the common signs early. This helps in getting quick medical help and dodging complications.

Common Symptoms of a UTI

If you feel a burn when you pee, need to go a lot, see cloudy urine, or feel pain in your lower belly, it could be a UTI. Sometimes, UTIs sneak up without any overt signs.1 This surprise makes knowing the common symptoms important.

Symptoms Based on Location

A UTI can show different signs, depending on where it hits. For instance, a bladder infection can feel like a burn while peeing and makes you wanna go often.1 A kidney infection, on the other hand, can bring on back pain, fever, chills, and feeling sick.1 An infection in the urethra might cause leaking and a burn when you pee.1 Being able to tell these problems apart is vital for getting the right medical help.

uti symptoms

Causes of Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are often caused by bacteria, especially Escherichia coli or E. coli. These bacteria usually live in our gut. They can move from the back area to the urethra. This is more common in women because their urethras are shorter.1

Bacterial Infections

Infections in the bladder are a frequent UTI type. In women, the source is often bacteria from the bowel, entering the urethra and bladder.3 In men, infections happen more when something blocks the urine flow, such as an enlarged prostate.3

Risk Factors for UTIs

Several things increase the risk of having a UTI, like female anatomy and sex. Using certain birth controls can also play a part. So can menopause, not having a “usual” urinary tract, and a weak immune system.1 About 50% of women will face a UTI during their life. Many will have more than one.2 Because they have shorter urethras, women are at higher risk. This makes it simpler for bacteria to move to the bladder.2 Risks unique to women include UTIs in the past, getting older, being pregnant, using spermicide, and having a catheter.2 Men past 50 are also more likely to get UTIs. An enlarged prostate often causes this by blocking the flow of urine.2 Certain types of birth control can help bacteria grow, raising the UTI risk.1

Knowing what raises the chance of a UTI can help people prevent it.1 The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) is dedicated to educating about UTIs.3

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Complications of Untreated UTIs

Leaving a UTI untreated can cause some serious problems.1 If you get UTIs a lot or if they don’t go away, your kidneys might be harmed. This can happen if the infection reaches them (pyelonephritis).1 Also, not treating UTIs can put you at risk for sepsis. This dangerous condition can happen when the infection attacks your blood.1 Pregnant women with UTIs might have babies who are born too small or too early.1 Men, on the other hand, might find it hard to pee because the UTI has narrowed their urethra.1 To avoid these problems, it’s vital to see a doctor as soon as symptoms appear and to take all your prescribed antibiotics.

4 Untreated UTIs can become more severe, leading to infections in the kidneys or prostate, which in turn may trigger sepsis.4 It’s good to know that using proper hygiene and feminine products won’t make UTIs more likely.4 But4 women with a BMI over 30 are at a greater risk. This could be because there’s more bacteria in the skin folds by the labia.4

4 After menopause, UTI risks go up because the body produces less estrogen. This makes the tissues in the vagina less elastic, allowing more bacteria to get in.4 People with uncontrolled diabetes are also more likely to get UTIs. This is because their compromised immune system and the sugar in their urine create a welcoming environment for bacteria.4

uti complications

Preventing Urinary Tract Infections

There are steps to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). First, practicing good hygiene is key. This means wiping from front to back after the bathroom. It also means changing feminine products often.1

Keeping hydrated by drinking fluids, especially water, is important. It helps flush out bacteria. Urinating before and after sex is another good way to prevent UTIs.1

Good Hygiene Practices

Keeping good hygiene helps a lot. Remember to wipe from front to back. Change feminine products often to avoid bacterial entry.1

Hydration and Urination Habits

Staying hydrated by drinking fluids, mainly water, is crucial. It helps flush out bacteria and prevent UTIs.1 Also, going to the bathroom before and after sex is beneficial. It helps prevent UTIs.1

Birth Control and Lubricant Choices

Be careful with your birth control and lubricant choices.2 Diaphragms and spermicides might up the infection risk.1 So, making wise choices here can prevent UTIs.

Clothing and Lifestyle Changes

Choose loose-fitting, breathable clothing over tight ones. This and avoiding genital irritants can prevent UTIs.1

Diagnosis of UTIs

Healthcare providers usually start diagnosing UTIs with a urine test. This test can be a simple dipstick or a detailed urinalysis under a microscope.5 If these tests are not clear or the infection keeps coming back, a urine culture might be needed. This test looks for the specific bacteria causing the UTI.5

Urine Tests

To diagnose a UTI, doctors look for white blood cells, red blood cells, or signs of bacteria in a urine sample.5 After that, they do a urine culture to find out the exact bacteria causing the infection.5

Imaging Tests

Additional imaging tests like ultrasounds, cystoscopies, or CT scans might be needed. They’re used to check for any issues in the urinary tract that could cause the infections.5 For frequent UTIs, ultrasounds, CT scans, and MRIs can help find any structural problems.5 Healthcare providers also use cystoscopy to look inside the urethra and bladder for treatment. This lets them insert tools to deal with certain conditions.5

Treatment for Urinary Tract Infections

The main way to treat a urinary tract infection (treatment) is with antibiotics.5 Common types of antibiotics used are amoxicillin and fluoroquinolones among others. The right antibiotic and how long you take it varies. It depends on how bad the infection is, the bacteria type, and your medical history.5

Antibiotic Medications

Severe kidney infections or ones that oral antibiotics can’t beat might need iv antibiotics for uti. This is done in a medical center.5 If a virus is the culprit, you might get antiviral pills instead of antibiotics, but this is uncommon.

Intravenous (IV) Antibiotics

5 For serious cases of uti treatment, IV antibiotics at a hospital are the best choice.

Antiviral Medications

Sometimes a virus starts the infection, and then you’d get antiviral medications instead of antibiotics. But remember, this is very unusual.

Antibiotic Resistance and UTIs

The overuse and wrong use of antibiotics have caused a big problem today. Antibiotic-resistant urinary tract infections (UTIs) are on the rise. Research shows up to 80% of the bacteria in UTIs don’t respond to the usual antibiotics. These include amoxicillin, ampicillin, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole.6 This happens when bacteria don’t die off completely after being exposed to antibiotics. They adjust and become tough against certain medications.6

Treating antibiotic-resistant UTIs is harder. It often needs stronger or intravenous antibiotics. This can make treating these UTIs more expensive and last longer.6

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People with other health problems or weakened immune systems are at a higher risk.6 Also, older adults living in care facilities or using catheters might get these tougher UTIs most often.6 The bacteria that cause UTIs, especially E. coli, can sometimes resist the antibiotics. Some strains of E. coli and other bacteria in the Enterobacteriaceae family can fight back against carbapenem drugs.6

UTIs with resistant bacteria can group together and gain more power against antibiotics over time.6 Some strains are now able to withstand all common antibiotics. This makes treating the infection very challenging. In severe cases, hospitals may need to use the strongest antibiotics, like carbapenems.6

It’s key to avoid making bacteria resistant. Healthcare experts stress the need to finish the full antibiotics course when treating UTIs.67

Some people with often-recurrent UTIs try natural remedies. D-Mannose, cranberry products, probiotics, and manuka honey are a few that people use. But, how well they work isn’t very clear.6 The speed of an infection and its spread depends on the type of bacteria, time of infection, bacteria’s genetic strengths, and the health and habits of the person infected.6

Resistance ProfilePercentage of PatientsMedian Duration of Symptoms (Days)Odds Ratio for Revisit within 30 Days
Resistant to any antibiotic45.1%7771.47 (95% CI = 1.10 to 1.95)7
Resistant to ampicillin40.0%7771.49 (95% CI = 1.11 to 2.00)7
Resistant to trimethoprim17.4%71272.48 (95% CI = 1.70 to 3.59)7
Resistant to Augmentin® (GlaxoSmithKline)13.2%7N/AN/A
Resistant to cephalosporin8.1%7N/AN/A
Sensitive to all tested antibioticsN/A57N/A

The table above gives important details on antibiotic-resistant UTIs. It tells us how common antibiotic resistance is, how it affects symptom length, and the risk of needing to see a doctor again within 30 days.7

UTIs in Specific Populations

More women get UTIs, but they can happen to anyone. Knowing the special needs of each group is key to stopping or treating UTIs well.1

UTIs in Men

Guys don’t get UTIs as often as women do. Yet, as men get older, their odds go up. This is because of a bigger prostate. It might slow the pee down and let bacteria grow.2

UTIs and Menopause

After menopause, women’s UTI risk goes up too. Less estrogen can hurt the urinary tract’s health.2

UTIs in Gender Diverse People

A study found that UTIs can be as common for some trans men as for cis women. For trans men assigned female at birth, being on testosterone may raise UTI risks. If they have diabetes, they might be even more at risk.2

Recurrent UTIs

Many people, especially women, face recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs). They have two or more within six months or three in a year.8 Causes can be past infections, being sexually active, using some birth control, and health issues like diabetes.9 The risk goes up during menopause.9

It’s important to treat each UTI right away and take steps to prevent more. This includes keeping clean and drinking plenty of water.8 If UTIs keep coming back, seeing a doctor is a good idea. They can help find and solve the main issue.

When to See a Doctor

If you think you might have a urinary tract infection, don’t wait. It’s crucial to seek medical attention right away. Signs you should see a doctor include feeling a burn when you pee, needing to go often, seeing cloudy or bloody urine, and pain in your lower belly. These could mean an infection in your bladder or kidney.10

Plus, if you’ve had UTIs before, or if you start feeling very sick with a fever, chills, upset stomach, or if you don’t get better from treatment, don’t hesitate to talk to a doctor.11 Getting help early can stop the infection from getting worse and causing more problems.

It’s important to act fast because UTIs can be serious. If they spread to your kidneys, you might need to go to the hospital for strong antibiotics.10 Know the signs of a UTI and see a doctor when you need to. This way, you can deal with it properly and avoid getting sicker.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Symptoms: Signs & Treatment

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common and can be uncomfortable. They can affect any part of the urinary system. This includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. The most common symptoms are a burning feeling when you pee, needing to go often, and pain in your lower belly. The urine might look cloudy or have blood in it.1 Symptoms vary based on where the infection is in your urinary tract. It’s important to start antibiotics quickly to clear the infection and avoid problems like kidney damage.1 Knowing the signs of a UTI and what to do is key to getting better quickly.

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Women are more likely to get UTIs than men.1 UTIs happen when bacteria get into the urinary tract, usually from the urethra. Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a common cause. Factors in women that raise the chances of UTIs include their anatomy (having a shorter urethra), sex, some birth controls, and menopause.1 Untreated UTIs can cause more infections, harm your kidneys, and even lead to sepsis.1 Drinking cranberry juice may not always stop UTIs, according to studies.1

About half of the women will have a UTI at least once, and many will get them again.2 Fewer men, only 1 in 10, will have a UTI.2 Kids rarely get UTIs, around 1 to 2 out of 100 cases.2 In women, genetics, weak immune systems, sex, age, and menopause can make UTIs more likely.2 Certain contraceptives and habits like using spermicides and having many sex partners can also raise the risk. UTIs are more common in older men due to issues like an enlarged prostate. For those assigned female at birth and taking testosterone, their UTI risk is similar to women’s. Diabetics are at higher UTI risk, especially after menopause. Less estrogen after menopause makes UTIs more likely by affecting the vagina and urethra.2 Antibiotics usually start working to treat UTIs in 3 days to 6 weeks.2 Doctors often prescribe medicines like Amoxicillin and Fluoroquinolones. But using antibiotics too much has made some UTIs resistant to these drugs. Up to 80% of bacterial samples show resistance to certain common antibiotics.2


Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are very common and keep coming back in people of all ages and sexes.12 They’re among the top reasons for doctor visits in the U.S., with over 8.1 million people going each year.13 These are usually bacterial infections that target the lower urinary system, especially the bladder.

To handle UTIs well, it’s crucial to know their signs, what causes them, and who’s at risk.13 In the United States, females get UTIs at least four times more often than males. About 40% of U.S. women get a UTI at some point, and 10% get one each year.13 Many people get them again, with about half facing a second infection within a year.

The main treatment for UTIs is antibiotics, but there are ways to lessen your chances of getting one.12 Like keeping clean, drinking a lot of water, and choosing the right kind of clothes. It also helps to urinate right after sex, and avoid certain items. Knowing when you might have a UTI and getting help quickly means you can deal with it better and protect your health.


What is a urinary tract infection (UTI)?

A UTI is an infection in the urinary system. This includes kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.

What are the common symptoms of a UTI?

Common UTI symptoms are a burning feeling when you pee, and feeling like you have to go a lot. You might notice your pee is cloudy or bloody, and you might have pelvic pain.

What causes a UTI?

Bacterial infection, often by E. coli, is the main cause of UTIs. These bacteria are usually in the gut.

What are the potential complications of an untreated UTI?

Not treating UTIs can cause major issues. This includes kidney problems, sepsis, and it can also affect pregnancies.

How can I prevent a UTI?

Prevent UTIs by staying clean and drinking plenty of water. Always pee before and after sex. Avoid things that irritate your genitals.

How are UTIs diagnosed?

Doctors use tests on your urine, like dipsticks or urinalysis, to diagnose UTIs. They might also check with ultrasounds or cystoscopies.

How are UTIs treated?

Antibiotics are the main UTI treatment. The choice and length of antibiotic treatment varies based on the infection’s severity and the bacteria type.

What is antibiotic resistance and how does it impact UTIs?

UTI bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics. This makes UTIs harder to treat. It might require stronger or different antibiotics.

Are there any unique considerations for UTIs in specific populations?

Men, menopausal women, and gender diverse people can also get UTIs. Things like prostate size, hormonal changes, and therapy can raise the risk.

What are recurrent UTIs and how are they managed?

When two or more UTIs happen in six months, or three or more in a year, it’s called recurrent UTIs. Quick treatment and prevention are key to managing them.

When should I see a doctor for a suspected UTI?

If you notice any UTI symptoms, like burning when you pee, or frequent urge to go, see a doctor. Quick attention is necessary for these signs.

Source Links

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-tract-infection/symptoms-causes/syc-20353447
  2. https://www.webmd.com/women/your-guide-urinary-tract-infections
  3. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/bladder-infection-uti-in-adults
  4. https://www.unitypoint.org/news-and-articles/can-utis-go-away-on-their-own
  5. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-tract-infection/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353453
  6. https://www.antibioticresearch.org.uk/patient-support/specific-infections/urinary-tract-infections-utis/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1876635/
  8. https://urogyn.coloradowomenshealth.com/conditions/bladder/recurrent-uti.html
  9. https://www.bcm.edu/healthcare/specialties/obstetrics-and-gynecology/urogynecology-and-reconstructive-pelvic-surgery/chronic-urinary-tract-infections
  10. https://www.scripps.org/news_items/7517-when-to-see-your-doctor-for-a-urinary-tract-infection-podcast
  11. https://www.houstonmethodist.org/blog/articles/2022/apr/when-to-see-a-doctor-for-a-urinary-tract-infection-uti/
  12. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/189953
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470195/