A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system - your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra.
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 can fail. When that happens, bacteria may take hold and grow into a full-blown infection in the urinary tract. Most infections involve the lower urinary tract, the bladder and the urethra. Women are at greater risk of developing a UTI than men are. Infection limited to your bladder can be painful and annoying.
A simple UTI (also known as acute cystitis or bladder infection) occur more commonly in women than men due to the short distance from the urethra to the anus and the urethral opening to the bladder. This type of UTI is usually caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), a type of bacteria commonly found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Sexual intercourse may lead to cystitis, but you don’t have to be sexually active to develop it.
The most common symptoms are urgency (needing to go), frequency (going all the time), burning, urine that appears cloudy, urine that appears red, bright pink or cola-colored which is a sign of blood in the urine, strong or foul smelling urine, pelvic pain, in women, rectal pain, in men.
Urethritis is an infection of the urethra, This type of UTI can occur when GI bacteria spread from the anus to the urethra. Also, because the female urethra is close to the vagina, sexually transmitted infections, such as herpes, gonorrhea and chlamydia, can cause urethritis.
Pyelonephritis is a type of urinary tract infection (UTI) that affects one or both kidneys. It is caused by a bacterium or virus infecting the kidneys. Though many bacteria and viruses can cause pyelonephritis, the bacterium E. coli is often the cause. Bacteria and viruses can move to the kidneys from the bladder or can be carried through the bloodstream from other parts of the body. Symptoms of pyelonephritis can include fever, vomiting, back, side, groin pain, chills, nausea, and frequent painful urination. Pyelonephritis may require hospitalization.
A urinalysis is done to confirm the diagnosis of any UTI; a culture of the urine can determine the type of bacteria responsible for the infection and guide antibiotic treatment. Most simple UTIs will resolve with 3-5 days of antibiotics.