Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Urinary tract infections are far more common of the bladder than of
any other structure in the urinary tract. An infection that occurs in
the lower urinary tract, most commonly of the bladder, is easily treated
with a short course of usually 3 days of antibiotics. Less commonly the
urinary tract infection is in the kidneys, which requires a longer course
of antibiotics. Females are more likely to get urinary tract infections
- Pain or burning when urinating
- Frequent need to urinate
- Urgent need to urinate
- Blood in the urine
- Discomfort in the middle of the lower abdomen (suprapubic pain)
- flank/side/back pain
- blood in the urine
- nausea or vomiting
A history of painful urination, urgency, frequency can be indications
of a urinary tract infection. Testing the urine by checking a 1) urine
dipstick, 2) doing a microscopic exam of the urine looking for white
blood cells (which the body formed to combat the bacterial infection),
and 3) performing a urine culture (the bacteria are grown so we can determine
the type of bacteria and which antibiotic best treats that bacteria)
are ordered to evaluate for an infection. You may be examined for presence
of fever or flank pain which would suggest the possibility of a kidney
If the above tests show no evidence of an infection despite painful
urination, urgency and frequency treatments other than antibiotics are
Nitrofurantoin (Macrobid), trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim),
ciprofloxacin (Cipro) or levofloxacin (Levaquin). Pyridium to numb the
bladder pain can be used for comfort for several days.
If using spermicides and diaphragm for contraception explore other contraceptive.
Although research has not proven 1) maintaining a good fluid intake or
2) emptying the bladder after intercourse to be helpful, these activities
are often recommended. In a small research study cranberry decreased
the bacterial adherence to the cells of the urinary tract, however the
cranberry did not clearly reduce the number of urinary tract infections.
Research is ongoing. It is reasonable to try cranberry tablets and evaluate
whether there is reduced urinary tract infections.
Patients with cultures documenting recurrent urinary tract infections
can be offered treatment with
- daily low dose antibiotic for urinary tract infection suppression
for 6 months;
- if urinary tract infections are related to sexual activity a low
dose antibiotic taken at the time of intercourse is helpful; or
- self treatment with antibiotics is occasionally recommended when
urine cultures are consistently positive.
Patients without urinary tract infections, who have symptoms of urgency,
frequency and painful urination with negative urine cultures can stop
cranberry intake and determine if their symptoms improve.