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Urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infections: Introduction

Urinary tract infections are common infections of the urinary tract, which consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, urethra and the prostate gland. Urinary tract infections are the result of an invasion of bacteria or other microorganisms into the urinary tract.

Normally, urine and all of the organs and structures of the urinary tract are sterile and contain no microorganisms. However, infectious microorganisms can get into the urinary tract from outside the body through the urethra and cause urinary tract infections. Infectious microorganisms can also travel through the bloodstream from other parts of the body to cause urinary tract infections.

Urinary tract infections include bladder infection, bacterial prostatitis (urinary tract infection of the prostate gland) and pyelonephritis, a urinary tract infection of the kidney.

Symptoms of urinary tract infections can include frequent urination and bloody urine. Urinary tract infections can lead to potentially serious, even life-threatening complications in some people. For more information on complications and symptoms, refer to symptoms of urinary tract infections.

Urinary tract infections occur most commonly in women, because the urethra in women is shorter than a man's. This makes it easier for microorganisms to enter the female urinary tract and cause a urinary tract infection. Women who are sexually active, who use diaphragms for birth control, and/or are past menopause are at an increased risk for urinary tract infections.

Certain other populations are also at a higher risk for developing urinary tract infections. They include older adults and the elderly and people with a history of kidney stones, kidney disease, or chronic conditions that affect the immune system, such as HIV/AIDS and diabetes. People who have an indwelling catheter in their bladder are also at risk.

Making a diagnosis of a urinary tract infection begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. It also includes performing a urinalysis test, which checks for the presence of pus, white blood cells, and bacteria in the urine, which point to a urinary tract infection. A urine culture and sensitivity is usually performed to find the exact microorganism that is causing the infection and to determine the most effective antibiotic to treat it.

Imaging tests, such as ultrasound, CT, nuclear scan, or voiding cystourethrogram may also be ordered to evaluate the functioning of the urinary tract.

A diagnosis of a urinary tract infection can easily be missed or delayed in the elderly. This is because some symptoms, such as fatigue and weakness, may not be noticed or might be associated with aging. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of urinary tract infections.

Mild urinary tract infections, such as a bladder infection, that are not accompanied with complications, such as pyelonephritis, are generally treated with oral antibiotic medications. People are also encouraged to drink plenty of water to help flush bacteria out of the bladder. The prognosis and the chance for a cure without complications are good for people who are generally healthy.

More serious infections, such as pyelonephritis, and urinary tract infections in people with HIV/AIDS or in the elderly, generally require hospitalization, especially if there are complications, such as sepsis. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of urinary tract infections. ...more »

Urinary tract infections: Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by bacteria in the urinary tract. Women get UTIs more often than men. UTIs are treated with ... more about Urinary tract infections.

Urinary tract infections: Infection of the urinary system; usually bacterial. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Urinary tract infections is available below.

Urinary tract infections: Symptoms

The symptoms of urinary tract infections result from the presence and growth of bacteria or other microorganisms in the urinary tract. The urinary tract is normally a sterile environment, and an infection of microorganisms results in symptoms that vary depending on the specific type of urinary tract infection.

Symptoms of a bladder infection include feeling ...more symptoms »

Urinary tract infections: Treatments

The first step in treating urinary tract infections is prevention. Prevention measures include drinking plenty of fluids, urinating as soon as possible when the urge is felt, and drinking cranberry juice, which may have infection-fighting qualities.

For women, prevention measures include urinating promptly after having sexual intercourse, wiping the genital area ...more treatments »

Urinary tract infections: Misdiagnosis

People who are young or middle-aged are often diagnosed and treated quickly with a urinary tract infection. This is because the symptoms are often so painful, sudden and/or inconvenient that they seek prompt medical care.

However, in the elderly population, symptoms of a urinary tract infection, especially an early bladder infection, can be easily ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Urinary tract infections

Treatments for Urinary tract infections

  • Antibacterial drugs
    • Trimethoprim (Trimpex)
    • Trimethoprim/ sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra, Cotrim)
    • Amoxicillin (Amoxil, Trimox, Wymox)
    • Nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin, Furadantin)
  • more treatments...»

Home Diagnostic Testing

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Wrongly Diagnosed with Urinary tract infections?

Urinary tract infections: Related Patient Stories

Urinary tract infections: Deaths

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Types of Urinary tract infections

Diagnostic Tests for Urinary tract infections

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Urinary tract infections: Complications

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Causes of Urinary tract infections

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Disease Topics Related To Urinary tract infections

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Urinary tract infections: Undiagnosed Conditions

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Misdiagnosis and Urinary tract infections

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Urinary tract infections: Research Doctors & Specialists

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Hospitals & Clinics: Urinary tract infections

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Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Urinary tract infections, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Urinary tract infections: Rare Types

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Evidence Based Medicine Research for Urinary tract infections

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Prognosis for Urinary tract infections

Research about Urinary tract infections

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Clinical Trials for Urinary tract infections

The US based website ClinicalTrials.gov lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on ClinicalTrials.gov for Urinary tract infections include:

Prevention of Urinary tract infections

Prevention information for Urinary tract infections has been compiled from various data sources and may be inaccurate or incomplete. None of these methods guarantee prevention of Urinary tract infections.

Statistics for Urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infections: Broader Related Topics

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Article Excerpts about Urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by bacteria in the urinary tract. Women get UTIs more often than men. UTIs are treated with antibiotics. Drinking lots of fluids also helps by flushing out the bacteria. (Source: excerpt from Your Urinary System and How It Works: NIDDK)

Definitions of Urinary tract infections:

Infections affecting stuctures participating in the secretion and elimination of urine: the kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder and urethra. - (Source - Diseases Database)

Any infection of any of the organs of the urinary tract - (Source - WordNet 2.1)

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