Urinary Tract Infections, referred to as UTI’s, are a common. More than 8 million doctor visits are recorded annually to treat the infection. Most UTI’s are caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), which typically live in the bowel. The painful burning sensation during urination is a telltale sign that you may have a UTI. Other symptoms include a dull pelvic ache, fever, and the constant need to use the bathroom.

Women are most at risk for developing a UTI, however it is an all too familiar problem among both men and women who use a foley catheter daily to urinate. This type of infection is known as CAUTI, a catheter associated urinary tract infection.

Antibiotics are the primary treatment for UTI’s, as the infection is typically caused by bacteria. Most infections can be cleared up within two or three days of treatment and symptoms will disappear, however for unexplainable reasons many are prone to recurring infections. (About 20% of young women with a first UTI will have a recurrent infection. With each UTI, the risk increase of recurrent infections.)

Left untreated, UTI’s can cause more damage by spreading into other areas of the urinary tract. Serious infections can cause kidney damage, chronic kidney infections, high blood pressure and more. Some acute kidney infections—infections that develop suddenly—can be life threatening, especially if the bacteria enter the bloodstream, a condition called septicemia.

For many, the symptoms may feel similar to having the flu, so the UTI may go untreated at an early stage. What are the symptoms you should be aware of that are associated with UTI’s?

  • a frequent and intense urge to urinate
  • a painful, burning feeling in the bladder or urethra during urination
  • feeling tired, shaky, and weak
  • muscle aches
  • abdominal pain
  • only small amounts of urine passed, despite a strong urge to urinate
  • cloudy, dark, or bloody urine or urine that has a foul smell
  • pain in the back or side below the ribs
  • nausea and vomiting

A UTI is diagnosed with a laboratory test. Based on your symptoms, the doctor will collect a urine sample and send it to the lab to be cultured for 48 hours. Based on the results, an antibiotic will be prescribed.

What can you do to prevent a recurring UTI?

  • Completely eliminate all of your urine from your bladder when using the restroom.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Urinate after sexual intercourse.

The best thing to do prevent urinary tract infections is to keep the area clean and dry. Wash properly with soap and water, and eliminate urine at the first urge to do so. Holding urine can cause more harm than good.

For more information on UTI’s, talk with your doctor or visit the The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Health Information Center online.


Tolkoff-Rubin NE, Cotran RS, Rubin RH. Urinary tract infection, pyelonephritis, and reflux nephropathy. In: Brenner BM, ed. Brenner & Rector's The Kidney. 8th ed. Vol. 2. Philadelphia: Saunders; 2008: 1203–1238.

Schaeffer AJ. Infections of the urinary tract. In: Walsh PC, Retik AB, Vaughan ED, Wein AJ, eds. Campbell's Urology. 8th ed. Vol. 1. Philadelphia: Saunders; 2002: 515–602.