A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that can happen anywhere along the urinary tract, which includes the bladder, kidneys, ureters (the tubes that take urine from each kidney to the bladder) and urethra (the tube that empties urine from the bladder). Recurrent urinary tract infection consists of at least two infections of the bladder in six months, or three infections in one year. While occasional urinary tract infections can be treated by a patient's regular physician, recurrent or repeat urinary tract infections point to an underlying cause and should be seen by a specialist.
Causes of Urinary Tract Infections
In the Section of Urogynecology at Loma Linda University Medical Center, we specialize in the complex and multidisciplinary treatment of women's urogynecological conditions. Recurrent urinary tract infections can be caused by a range of underlying conditions.
Urinary tract infections may be caused by:
- Cystitis, also known as vaginal atrophy, particularly related to menopause
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Foreign body in the urinary tract (kidney stone, suture from previous operation, cancer, abnormal anatomy, etc.)
A recurrent UTI should be treated more aggressively than a single UTI because of the risk of kidney infection. If no particular cause of the recurrent UTI is found, low dose antibiotics may be used for a longer period of time (as long as 6 months to 2 years), or stronger antibiotics may be needed than what is used for a single, uncomplicated instance of cystitis. Medications may also help reduce the burning and urgency associated with cystitis. If pelvic organ prolapse or an anatomical abnormality is present, surgery to correct the problem may be recommended.