A urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria gets into the urinary tract, which includes your bladder, kidneys and the tubes that connect them.
Bladder infection is the most common type of UTI. If left untreated, a bladder infection can spread to the kidneys. A kidney infection can lead to more serious health problems.
Bacteria that enter the urethra and travel up the urinary tract are the usual cause of a UTI. Bacteria present in feces is the most common source of infection.
Underlying causes include:
- Sexual activity
- Recently having a catheter for a medical procedure
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Sexually transmitted disease (STD)
Women tend to get more bladder infections than men. This probably is because women have shorter urethras, making it easier for germs to move up to the bladder.
Urinary tract infection symptoms include:
- Burning or pain during urination
- Feeling like you haven’t emptied your bladder after urinating
- Increased need to urinate
- Pain in the back or side
To confirm a UTI, your provider may ask for a sample of your urine. The sample will be tested to see if it contains bacteria that cause bladder infections. If your doctor suspects a UTI, he or she may prescribe antibiotics right away without waiting for the results of your test.
Your doctor may order additional tests if antibiotics don’t help or if the infection returns, if there are complications, or if your kidneys are infected.
A bladder infection usually can be treated with a combination of antibiotics and home treatment, including drinking a lot of water and urinating often.
A kidney infection typically can be treated with oral antibiotics, though a short course of intravenous antibiotics sometimes is needed.