A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system– your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Most infections involve the lower urinary tract — the bladder and the urethra.
Women are at greater risk of developing a UTI than are men. Infection limited to your bladder can be painful and annoying. However, serious consequences can occur if a UTI spreads to your kidneys.
Doctors typically treat urinary tract infections with antibiotics. But, you can take steps to reduce your chances of getting a UTI in the first place.
Urinary tract infections typically occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply in the bladder. Although the urinary system is designed to keep out such microscopic invaders, these defenses sometimes fail. When that happens, bacteria may take hold and grow into a full-blown infection in the urinary tract.
The most common UTIs occur mainly in women and affect the bladder and urethra.
Treatment in uncomplicated cases includes a short course of antibiotics. In complicated cases, intravenous antibiotics may be required.
Among other things, UTIs can sometimes be prevented by staying well hydrated with water, avoiding long intervals between urination, and urinating immediately after sexual intercourse. Patients with recurrent urinary tract infections should be evaluated by a urologist.