What is a UTI?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system — your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Most UTIs happen in the lower part of your urinary tract – the bladder or urethra.
UTIs usually happen when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply in the bladder. Our urinary tracts are made to keep out unwanted bacteria, but sometimes these microbes slip past our bodies’ defenses.
Women are at a greater risk of UTIs because of female anatomy. UTI causes are varied and post-menopausal women are particularly susceptible. Mostly, though, these infections are caused by bacteria commonly found in the gastroenterological tract, such as Escherichia coli (E. coli).
Symptoms of a UTI
When you have a UTI, you may not experience any symptoms. If you do, they usually include:
- The urge to urinate
- A “burning” feeling while urinating
- Small, Frequent urinating
- Cloudy urine
- Urine that might look pink or reddish – this is a sign of blood in your urine
- Strong-smelling urine
- Possible pelvic pain
More specific symptoms are associated with the If the kidneys are infected, you might experience:
- Upper back pain
- Shaking or chills
Diagnosing a UTI
To diagnose a UTI, you’ll give a urine sample that will be analyzed by our medical team. This urinalysis can reveal signs of infection, such as a cloudy appearance and altered pH, as well as other more specific findings, such as byproducts of bacteria and white blood cells.
To identify the specific bacteria causing the infection, your provider may recommend obtaining a urine culture. For this, a urine sample will be sent to an outside lab. In addition to growing the bacteria for identification, it also allows the lab to check what antibiotics will effectively kill the bacteria so that proper treatment can be assured.