What is UTI?

UTI or Urinary Tract Infection is microbial infection occurring anywhere in the urinary tract is termed. The urinary tract is made up of kidneys, the uterus, the bladder, and the urethra. Usually, UTIs are developed in the lower tract like the urethra and urinary bladder. But, in some cases, urinary tract infections involve the upper tract, that is the kidney and the uterus. While a majority of UTIs are caused by bacteria, other microbes like viruses and fungi can also cause urinary infections. These upper tract UTIs are rare and severe. In this article, we will take a look at the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments for UTIs.

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What is Urinary Tract Infection?

A UTI or urinary tract infection is a microbial infection that occurs anywhere in one’s urinary tract. Microbes are too tiny to be seen without a microscope. Most UTIs are the result of bacterial infections, but some are caused by viruses or fungi as well. UTI’s are among the top common infections in humans.

Your urinary tract is made up of your urethra, bladder, uterus, and kidneys. Typically, a UTI will develop in your lower tract, bladder, or urethra. However, some UTIs can also involve the upper tract — which includes the kidney and the uterus. Upper tract UTIs are rarer than lower tract UTIs, but they are also more severe.

Urinary Tract Infection


What are UTI Causes?

Anything that irritates the urinary tract as a result of your bladder not emptying enough can devolve into a urinary tract infection. There are also added factors that can increase your risk of getting a UTI. Some of the UTI risk factors include:


  • Reduced mobility after prolonged bed rest or after surgery

  • Age- the older one is more likely to get UTI

  • Whether or not one has a kidney stone

  • If one has had a UTI in the past

  • Urinary tract blockages or obstructions, such as enlarged kidney stones, prostate, or certain types of cancer

  • Increased use of urinary catheters makes it much easier for bacteria to enter your bladder

  • Diabetes, especially in cases where it is poorly managed, makes it much more likely for you to develop a UTI

  • Women who are pregnant are also at risk

  • Urinary structures that are abnormally developed from birth also put one at risk of developing a urinary tract infection

  • A compromised or weakened immune system

What are Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms?

UTI symptoms depend on which part of the urinary tract is infected. For lower tract UTI infections which affect the bladder and urethra, symptoms include:


  • Increased frequency of urination without actually passing urine

  • Burning sensation when urinating

  • Increased urgency to urinate

  • Bloody or cloudy urine

  • Urine that looks like tea or

  • Urine with a strong colour

  • Rectal pain in men

  • Pelvic pain in women

UTIs that affect the upper tract often attack the kidneys. These infections can be life-threatening especially if the bacteria move from the kidney which is infected further into the blood. Hence, this condition is known as urosepsis and can result in dangerously low blood pressure, death, or a shock to the body. Symptoms of a UTI in the upper tract include:


  • Fever

  • Nausea

  • Chills

  • Pain and tenderness on one’s sides and upper back

  • Vomiting

UTI in Men:

The symptoms of an upper tract urinary infection in men are quite similar to those that are seen in women. UTIs in men are seen with the symptom of rectal pain in addition to other symptoms that are shared by both men and women. UTIs in men can look like:


  • Painful urination and a burning sensation

  • The need to urinate frequently

  • Sudden urge to empty your bladder, referred to as ‘urinary urgency’

  • Pain in the central lower abdomen, just above the pubic bone

  • Blood in urine

UTI in Women:

The symptoms of an upper urinary tract infection in women include extreme amounts of pelvic pain. They also experience other common symptoms that are shared with men such as chills, fever, vomiting, nausea, and more. A UTI in women can look like:


  • Strong and persistent urge to urinate

  • Burning sensation when urinating

  • Passing frequent but small amounts of urine

  • Urine appearing cloudy

  • Urine appearing red, bright pink, or cola-coloured — a sign of blood in the urine

  • Urine has a pungent odour

  • Pelvic pain especially in the centre of the pelvis and around the area of the pubic bone.

Urinary Tract Infection Diagnosis: What are the Steps Followed?

The urinary tract infection diagnosis is usually done in the following steps:


  • Step 1: In case you suspect that you have got a UTI based on the symptoms described above, make sure that you contact your doctor.

  • Step 2: Based on a review of your symptoms and a physical examination, your doctor will review whether or not you have got a UTI. To confirm your diagnosis, your doctor will require that you get your urine tested for microbes.

  • Step 3: The urine sample that you provide your doctor with needs to be one that is described as a “clean-catch” sample. This indicates that the urine sample should be collected from the middle of your urinary stream, and not at the beginning.

    The goal of a clean catch sample is to avoid collecting the bacteria and yeast present on the skin, that can contaminate your sample. Your doctor will carefully explain how to get a clean catch sample.

  • Step 4: When testing the same for a UTI, your doctor will look for a large number of white blood cells being present in your urine. The presence of a lot of white blood cells can indicate an infection.

  • Step 5: Additionally, your doctor will also conduct a urine culture so they can test for fungi or bacteria. The culture can help in identifying the cause behind the infection. Conducting the test can also help the doctor in picking which type of treatment is ideal for you.

  • Step 6: In case a virus is suspected, a special test may be needed. Viruses are rare cases of UTIs, and they are often seen in people who have had an organ transplanted or have any other conditions that weaken their immune system.

Urinary Tract Infection Treatment

For a UTI treatment, your doctor is required to confirm which organism is causing the infection. In most cases, the cause is bacteria, which therefore need to be treated with antibiotics. In other cases, fungi or viruses are the cause that can be treated by antivirals like cidofovir. Finally, if the UTI is fungal, an antifungal medication is used to treat it.

Urinary Tract Infection Home Remedies

Some home remedies for reducing the strain of a UTI are the following:


  • Drink plenty of water

  • Increase your vitamin C consumption

  • Consider drinking unsweetened cranberry juice

  • Regularly consume a probiotic

When Should I See a Doctor for UTI?

The symptoms of a urinary tract infection go away on their own in a few days. In case your UTI symptoms do not get resolved in a few days, you should visit a doctor and seek medical attention. If left untreated, a UTI can cause serious damage to your kidney and your overall health. Therefore, it is safe to visit a doctor as soon as you have any signs or symptoms of a UTI.

What can be UTI Complications?

If treated properly and on time, lower UTI rarely leads to any further complications. However, if left untreated, it can cause the below-mentioned complications:


  • Recurring infections can be seen especially in women who experience two or more urinary tract infections in six months or four UTIs in a year.

  • Your kidneys might also get permanently damaged due to acute or chronic kidney infection caused by untreated UTI.

  • There is an extra risk in pregnant women of delivering premature infants or with low birth weight.

  • A potentially life-threatening complication of an infection known as sepsis can also be caused. This is especially if the infection works its way up in your urinary tract to your kidneys.

How to Prevent Urinary Tract Infection?

Preventing a UTI is easy. A few key washroom practises are essential. These are:


  • Avoid holding urine for long periods.

  • Pee after sexual intercourse, which can prevent the spread of bacteria.

  • When using the toilet, wipe front to back rather than the other way around. Wiping from back to front can result in bacteria spreading to the urinary tract and is linked to an increased risk of UTIs.

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FAQs on Urinary Tract Infection

  • ✔️What causes a person to get a UTI?

    A urinary tract infection usually occurs when bacteria enter your urinary tract through the urethra and starts to multiply in the bladder.

  • ✔️Will a UTI go away by itself?

    Yes, a UTI usually gets resolved on its own. If it doesn’t, you should seek medical attention.

  • ✔️Can you get UTI from holding your pee?

    Yes, you may get a urinary tract infection from holding your pee.

  • ✔️Does cranberry juice help a UTI?

    Yes, consuming unsweetened cranberry juice is one of the popular urinary tract infection home remedies.

  • ✔️Can drinking a lot of water help in UTI?

    Yes, drinking plenty of water is a known home remedy as it dilutes your urine.