Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), Adult

Understanding UTI

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of any part of the urinary tract. The urinary tract includes:

  • The kidneys.
  • The ureters.
  • The bladder.
  • The urethra.

These organs make, store, and get rid of pee (urine) in the body.

What Are The Causes?

This is caused by germs (bacteria) in your genital area. These germs grow and cause swelling (inflammation) of your urinary tract.

What Increases The Risk?

You are more likely to develop this condition if:

  • You have a small, thin tube (catheter) to drain pee.
  • You cannot control when you pee or poop (incontinence).
  • You are female, and:

You use methods to prevent pregnancy:
-A medicine that kills sperm (spermicide).
-A device that blocks sperm (diaphragm).
-You have low levels of a female hormone (estrogen).
-You are pregnant.

  • You have genes that add to your risk.
  • You are sexually active.
  • You take antibiotic medicines.
  • You have trouble peeing because of:

-A prostate that is bigger than normal, if you are male.
-A blockage in the part of your body that drains pee from the bladder (urethra).
-A kidney stone.
-A nerve condition that affects your bladder (neurogenic bladder).
-Not getting enough to drink.
-Not peeing often enough.

  • You have other conditions, such as:

-A weak disease-fighting system (immune system).
-Sickle cell disease.
-Injury of the spine.

What Are The Signs Or Symptoms?

Symptoms of this condition include:

  • Needing to pee right away (urgently).
  • Peeing often.
  • Peeing small amounts often.
  • Pain or burning when peeing.
  • Blood in the pee.
  • Pee that smells bad or not like normal.
  • Trouble peeing.
  • Pee that is cloudy.
  • Fluid coming from the vagina, if you are female.
  • Pain in the belly or lower back.

Other symptoms include:

  • Throwing up (vomiting).
  • No urge to eat.
  • Feeling mixed up (confused).
  • Being tired and grouchy (irritable).
  • A fever.
  • Watery poop (diarrhea).

How Is This Treated?

This condition may be treated with:

  • Antibiotic medicine.
  • Other medicines.
  • Drinking enough water.

Follow these instructions at home:


  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your doctor.
  • If you were prescribed an antibiotic medicine, take it as told by your doctor. Do not stop taking it even if you start to feel better.

General Instructions
Make sure you:

  • Pee until your bladder is empty.
  • Do not hold pee for a long time.
  • Empty your bladder after sex.
  • Wipe from front to back after pooping if you are a female. Use each tissue one time when you wipe.
  • Drink enough fluid to keep your pee pale yellow.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your doctor. This is important.

Contact a Doctor If:

  • You do not get better after 1 to 2 days.
  • Your symptoms go away and then come back.

Get Help Right Away If:

  • You have very bad back pain.
  • You have very bad pain in your lower belly.
  • You have a fever.
  • You are sick to your stomach (nauseous).
  • You are throwing up.


  • A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of any part of the urinary tract.
  • This condition is caused by germs in your genital area.
  • There are many risk factors for a UTI. These include having a small, thin tube to drain pee and not being able to control when you pee or poop.
  • Treatment includes antibiotic medicines for germs.
  • Drink enough fluid to keep your pee pale yellow.

*This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

Document Released: 06/05/2009 Document Revised: 06/27/2019 Document Reviewed: 06/27/2019
Elsevier Interactive Patient Education © 2019 Elsevier Inc.

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