Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

A urinary tract infection is an infection in any part of your urinary system – your kidneys, bladder, ureters (the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder) or urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body).

UTIs are usually either “upper” or “lower,” depending on where the infection is located. The most common are lower UTIs, which infect the bladder and can cause it to become inflamed (these are referred to as “cystitis”).

In most cases, these bladder infections are caused by bacteria, though they can sometimes be caused by certain viruses or fungi (yeast).

Both women and men get bladder infections, but they are much more common among women. For example, among people between the ages of 20 and 50, bacterial UTIs are about 50 times more common among women than men. In people older than 50, there’s less of a difference between the sexes.

Women are susceptible because their urethra is short and close to the vagina and anus. This makes it easier for bacteria to move from one organ to the other. Using a diaphragm with spermicide can also increase the risk of a UTI. In older women, thinning of the tissue around the urethra, which often happens after menopause, may also increase the risk.

Among men, UTIs are often caused by an enlarged prostate or a prostate infection. Among women and men, anything that blocks the flow of urine – such as a bladder stone – can cause a UTI.

Medical specialties that treat UTI

UTIs can be treated by a primary care physician or a urologist.

How UTIs are treated

Most UTIs are treated by antibiotics. How long and how often you take the antibiotic will depend on which one your doctor prescribes. It is important to complete the full course of medication as it is prescribed, even when symptoms begin to clear up.

If a fungus (yeast) is the cause of your infection, you will be prescribed an anti-fungal.

UTIs often clear up within a few days of beginning treatment, but it’s very important to take the full course of treatment even if symptoms clear up. For example, if an antibiotic is prescribed for five days, take it for the full five days even if your symptoms disappear after three days. The bug that caused the infection might still be in your system even when you no longer have symptoms.

Some bacteria that cause UTIs can develop resistance to specific antibiotics, so that they cannot be effectively treated with those antibiotics. This is why all MicroGenDX diagnostic tests include detection of antibiotic resistance genes in your sample, and then provide alternative antibiotics for your doctor to consider prescribing to you.

Your doctor may also talk with you about other treatments. For example, if your UTI seems to be related to sexual activity, a single dose of an antibiotic after sexual intercourse may be prescribed.

For a very severe UTI, you may need to be treated in a hospital with intravenous antibiotics that are given directly into your vein, and then take a course of oral antibiotics when you return home.

References

  1. Wagenlehner FME, Cloutier DJ, Komirenko AS, et al: Once-daily plazomicin for complicated urinary tract infections. N Engl J Med 380:729-740, 2019. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1801467
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-tract-infection/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353453
  3. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9135-urinary-tract-infections
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