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Urinary Tract Infections

Background

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are much more common in adult females than males. Urinary tract infections can involve any portion of the urinary tract, including the kidneys (pyelonephritis), ureters, bladder (cystitis), or urethra. The great majority of UTIs are caused by a bacteria which enters the urethra and infects the urinary tract.

Signs and symptoms

Urinary tract infections are characterized by:

  • pain on urination
  • increased frequency of urinating
  • a feeling of urgency in urinating
  • cloudy, foul-smelling urine

If the infection involves the kidney, the patient may also have fever, nausea, vomiting, and flank (side) pain.

Diagnosis

The physician will obtain a history from the patient and will likely request a urine sample to look for the presence of white blood cells and bacteria. Imaging tests such as ultrasound or CT urogram may be required.

Treatment

For the treatment of a UTI that does not involve the kidneys, antibiotics will be prescribed. If the kidneys are involved, the patient may need to be hospitalized so that antibiotics can be administered intravenously. More than three UTIs in one year are diagnosed as recurrent urinary tract infections, and daily prophylactic (preventive) antibiotics may be prescribed for a period of six months. In order to decrease the frequency of urinary tract infections, patients are encouraged to maintain personal hygiene and drink plenty of fluids.

Links

American Foundation for Urologic Diseases
National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse
American Medical Association

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