General Health

Urinary Tract Infections: Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment


Infections that are caused in any part of our urinary system i.e. kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra are called Urinary Tract Infections (UTI). These infections mostly involve the lower urinary tract and seen in the bladder and the urethra. Women have greater chances of developing a UTI as compared to men. Infections that are caused in our bladder can be painful and annoying. However, it may cause severe consequences if a UTI spreads to your kidneys. 

Doctors generally prescribe antibiotics for the treatment of a UTI however, “Prevention is better than a cure” plays a meaningful role in preventing a UTI. So various steps can be taken and the chances of getting a UTI can be reduced in the first place.

Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections

There may not always be visible symptoms of a UTI but, generally, the symptoms include a persistent urge to urinate.

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  • During urination, there is a strong burning sensation in any part of the urinary tract
  • Frequently small amounts of urine is passed by the patient
  • Cloudy urine may appear
  • Urine may contain blood or the blood-like colour
  • Urine may contain a bad smell
  • In women, pelvic pain may be seen i.e. in the centre region of the pelvis and the region surrounding the pelvic bone. In adults, UTIs are overseen for other similar types of infections.

Types of urinary tract infections

Different types of UTIs may be categorised on the basis of the signs and symptoms that have appeared. Specific symptoms appeared based on the part of the urinary tract that is infected.

  1. If the kidney gets infected then the symptoms may include:- 
  • Pain in the sideways of the belly
  • Raised body temperature
  • Shaking and chilling sensation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

2. For infection in the bladder, the symptoms are:-

  • pressure in the pelvic region
  • discomfort in the lower part of the abdomen (may lead to problems in sitting)
  • pain during urination
  • bloody urine

3. Symptoms of urethral infection include:-

  • burning while urination
  • white discharge

Causes of Urinary Tract Infections

The main cause of UTI are bacteria. An infection occurs when bacteria invade the urinary tract through the urethra and then multiply in the urinary bladder. Although these microbes are eradicated by our natural urinary system, sometimes they survive these immune responses. As a result, the bacteria grow fully into an infection in the urinary tract.

  • Bladder infection (cystitis). This type of UTI is usually caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli)is the main cause of this infection. E.coli is a type of bacteria commonly found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Other types of bacteria are also the causing factors. Bladder infection (cystitis). This type of UTI is usually caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli)is the main cause of this infection. E.coli is a type of bacteria commonly found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Other types of bacteria are also the causing factors.
  • Urethral infection (urethritis). Sometimes the GI bacteria travels or spreads from the anus and reaches to the urethra causing urethral infection. Also, due to the presence of the female urethra in close proximity of the vagina, sexually transmitted infections, such as herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia and mycoplasma, can cause urethritis.


A urine sample can be analysed for the detection of a UTI. Examination of urine samples for the presence of any bacteria or white blood cells is done under a microscope. A urine culture may also be taken for diagnosis. In this test, bacteria and yeast may be detected in the urine which may be UTI-causing. Health care providers should be immediately consulted after seeing blood in our urine. Further tests can be done in serious problems such as a CT scan or ultrasound to check the urinary tract.


Urinary tract infections can be firstly treated with antibiotics. The type and the duration of the antibiotic depend on our health condition and the type of bacteria found in urine.

Simple infection

Drugs that are generally recommended for simple UTIs include:

  • Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra, others)
  • Fosfomycin (Monurol)
  • Nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin, Macrobid)
  • Cephalexin (Keflex)
  • Ceftriaxone

Often, UTI symptoms clear up within a few days of starting treatment. But it is necessary to take antibiotics for a week or more. Take the entire course of antibiotics as prescribed by the doctor. Your doctor may also prescribe a pain medication (analgesic) that numbs your bladder and urethra to relieve burning while urinating, but the pain usually is relieved soon after starting an antibiotic. 

Frequent infections

If you have frequent UTIs, your doctor may make certain treatment recommendations, such as:

  • Low-dose antibiotics, initially for six months but sometimes longer
  • Self-diagnosis and treatment, if you stay in touch with your doctor
  • A single dose of antibiotic after sexual intercourse if infections are related to sexual activity
  • Vaginal estrogen therapy if you’re postmenopausal

Severe infection

For a severe UTI, you may need treatment with intravenous antibiotics in a hospital. 


  • Following steps can be taken to reduce the risk of developing a UTI
  • Intake of plenty of liquid, mainly water
  • Water makes our urine dilute and makes urination more frequent as a result of which the bacteria is thrown away from the urinary tract before the onset of infection
  • Emptying your bladder soon after intercourse
  • Drink a full glass of water so that bacteria get eradicated
  • Avoiding irritating feminine products
  • Deodorant sprays or other feminine products, such as douches and powders, in the genital area, can irritate the urethra
  • Change in birth control method. Diaphragms, non-lubricated or spermicide treated condoms can lead to bacterial growth


Yash Batra

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