A Guide To Urinary Tract Infection

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What Is Urinary Tract Infection?

Urinary tract infection (commonly called UTI) is a term for an infection taking place in one of the organs that contributes to urination. Those organs include the kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra in individuals of either sex. Most urinary tract infections center on the lower urinary tract, including the bladder and urethra.

Who Is at Risk for Urinary Tract Infection?

Urinary tract infection can occur at any age. Women are at an elevated risk of urinary tract infection compared to men. While most urinary tract infections are not severe, elders over the age of 65 are more likely to experience serious UTIs, especially affecting the kidneys.

How common is urinary tract infection? More than three million cases of urinary tract infection happen annually, including many that resolve without treatment. Sometimes, a urinary tract infection may present symptoms that are so mild or infrequent, the situation goes unnoticed.

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Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms

Some urinary tract infections produce no symptoms at all.

Symptoms of a urinary tract infection can include:

  • A strong and persistent urge to urinate that is only alleviated for a short time after urination
  • A painful burning sensation that occurs while urinating and quickly ends once urine is passed
  • Changes in the composition of urine, including a cloudy appearance or red or pink coloration
  • Strong odor in urine
  • Passing small amounts of urine on a frequent basis
  • In women, pelvic pain – particularly around the center of the pelvis and the pubic bone

Urinary tract infection symptoms vary depending on which organs are affected by infection. Terminology also varies depending on involvement of the kidneys (called acute pyelonephritis), bladder (known as cystitis), or urethra (urethritis). In particular, the location and severity of pain brought on by the infection can differ.

In general, the most dangerous urinary tract infections are those in which infection spreads to the kidneys. This will bring on more noticeable symptoms, including pain in the upper back and flank, a high fever, shaking and chills, and persistent nausea with vomiting. Seek a doctor’s care immediately if you suspect pyelonephritis.

Urinary Tract Infection Treatment and Lifestyle Changes

While many urinary tract infections pass on their own, there is no guarantee they will do so. It is a wise idea to get medical help whenever you identify the symptoms of a UTI.

Most UTIs begin when bacteria infiltrates the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply in the bladder. Antibiotic medication can help the body fend off the infection.

With an appropriate course of treatment, most urinary tract infections will be completely resolved in a matter of a few weeks. That said, it is possible for UTIs to become chronic and occur frequently.

In most cases, it is not necessary to make significant lifestyle changes to prevent UTI from recurring in the future. If you experience multiple persistent UTIs, your doctor will advise you on potential changes. Sexual activity increases the risk of UTIs, as does starting sexual activity with a new partner.

Because they have a shorter urethra than men, women are at greater risk of UTIs. Sometimes, hormonal conditions may also influence urinary tract infection risk. Women who use spermicidal agents or diaphragms for birth control are at higher risk than those who do not. Other birth control options do not UTI affect risk.

As women enter menopause, they also become more vulnerable to UTI infection. This is because changes in the urinary tract are brought on by a reduced level of circulating estrogen. Women concerned about the overall health effects of menopause can consult a physician to learn if hormone replacement therapy is right for them.

Urinary Tract Infection Medical Research

Urinary tract infection clinical research focuses on improving antibiotics and reducing prevalence for those who are most at risk. Some urinary tract infection medical research also explores the etiology of kidney and bladder infection and the best way to treat UTI once it has become severe.

Chronic UTI medical research is also a growing field, exploring the reasons behind recurrent urinary tract infection and how to prevent future infections. New UTI treatments and UTI medications have been proposed that may improve the body’s ability to fight off infections for older and immunocompromised individuals.

Current Urinary Tract Infection Clinical Trials

This list consists of all current urinary tract infection clinical trials registered on ClinicalTrials.gov. To add a urinary tract infection clinical study to our list, contact us.


Urinary tract infections are extremely common. Luckily, most urinary tract infection treatments require only a few doses and the course of disease is very short. Still, it is crucial to take urinary tract infection seriously. With urinary tract infection clinical trials, there are new opportunities to treat UTI and improve quality of life.

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