A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra. As a rule, the infection is more serious the higher it exists in the urinary tract. UTIs are among the most common types of infections, accounting for more than 8 million doctor visits a year. As many as 50% of women and 3% of men experience a urinary tract infection at some point in their lives.
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A urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria begin to grow in the urine. The infection usually starts at the opening of the urethra where the urine leaves the body and travels into the urinary tract.
For lower urinary tract infection (cystitis):
For upper urinary tract infection (pyelonephritis):
A urologist will perform a physical exam and one or more tests:
Patients with recurring UTIs may require image testing to detect underlying problems in the urinary tract:
Antibiotics are usually prescribed. In more severe cases, hospitalization and IV antibiotics may be necessary. Issues requiring a hospital stay may include:
Postmenopausal women may want to ask their doctors about using vaginal estrogen to prevent recurrent UTIs.
Click here for a quick reference guide for our approach to treating UTIs.