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How to get a urine infection: Urinary tract infection (UTI) – Symptoms and causes

Bladder Infection (Urinary Tract Infection—UTI) in Adults

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Bladder infections are the most common type of urinary tract infection (UTI), but any part of your urinary tract can become infected—the urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys. Your age, habits, or health conditions can make a UTI more likely.

Symptoms of a bladder infection may include a burning feeling when you urinate. Most infections in women are caused by bacteria from the bowel that reach the urethra and bladder. Most infections in men are the result of problems that restrict normal urine flow, such as an enlarged prostate.

Health care professionals use your medical history, a physical exam, and tests to diagnose a bladder infection. If you have repeat infections, your doctor may order additional tests to find the cause of your infection.

Treatments for bladder infections and other UTIs may include antibiotics and drinking lots of liquids to help flush bacteria from your urinary tract. Changes in habits, hygiene, or birth control method may help prevent another infection.

Experts don’t think eating, diet, and nutrition play a role in preventing or treating bladder infections. If you have any type of UTI, talk with a health care professional about how much to drink each day to help prevent or relieve your infection.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and other components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conduct and support research into many diseases and conditions.

Related Conditions & Diseases

  • Diabetes
  • Prostate Enlargement: Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
  • Kidney Infection
  • Kidney Stones
  • VUR

Related Diagnostic Tests

  • Cystoscopy & Ureteroscopy
  • Urinary Tract Imaging
  • Urodynamic Testing

The urinary tract is the body’s drainage system for removing urine, which is composed of wastes and extra fluid. In order for normal urination to occur, all body parts in the urinary tract need to work together in the correct order.

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Definition & Facts

This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
(NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

The NIDDK would like to thank:
Ann E. Stapleton, MD, FIDSA, FACP, University of Washington School of Medicine

5 tips to prevent a urinary tract infection

Speaking of Health

Topics in this Post

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

A urinary tract infection, also called a UTI, is an infection that occurs in the urinary system. This could include the urethra, bladder, ureters and kidneys. Most infections involve the bladder and urethra, known as the lower urinary tract.

The most common symptoms include painful urination, tenderness above the bladder area, urgency and frequency of urination. Cloudy and a strong odor are not signs of infection.

Women are at greater risk for a UTI because the urethra is shorter than in men, so it’s easier for bacteria to travel to the bladder. UTIs also are more common in postmenopausal women because low estrogen levels change vaginal and urethral tissue to increase the risk of infection.

It’s always better to prevent an infection rather than simply treat it. UTIs are no different.

Follow these tips to lower your risk of a UTI with little or no potential negative side effects:

Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.

This helps keep bladder tissue hydrated and healthy. It also dilutes your urine and lowers the concentration of bacteria in the bladder. Some people can clear an infection on their own just by drinking fluids. Try drinking at least 50 ounces, or about 1.5 liters, of fluid daily to prevent infections.

Empty your bladder often.

Regularly emptying your bladder ensures urine is not sitting in your bladder for long periods of time. Since bacteria like warm and wet environments to grow, this takes away good living conditions for the bacteria. It’s normal to empty your bladder four to eight times per day.

Urinate soon after sex.

The act of intercourse can cause bacteria to get close to or into the urethra, the small tube that empties your bladder. Voiding after intercourse removes some of the bacteria before it can cause an infection.

Take cranberry supplements.

While cranberry supplements have not been shown in studies to prevent urinary tract infections, there is a reasonable biologic mechanism that using them could be helpful. If you would like to try this option, consider a concentrated over-the-counter cranberry supplement instead of cranberry juice. It likely provides more benefit and reduces extra sugar typically found in juice.

There are many myths about urinary tract infections. In this video, nurse practitioner Breanna Weisbrod clears up any confusion about cranberry juice and birth control:

Wipe front to back.

Doing so after urinating and after a bowel movement helps prevent bacteria in the anal region from spreading to the vagina and urethra.

If you have two or more infections in six months, consider talking with your health care team about recurrent UTIs. Your health care team will review your medical history and medications, and complete a thorough physical exam.

Risk factors for recurrent UTIs include:

  • Frequent sexual intercourse, which increases the likelihood of bacteria entering the urethra and bladder.
  • Using spermicide with or without a diaphragm, as this can harm protective bacteria in the urinary tract that defend against infection.
  • Urinary retention or incomplete bladder emptying caused by medications; narrowing of the urethra; prolapse of the bladder, uterus or vagina; neurological conditions; or sometimes unknown reasons.
  • Vaginal atrophy, which is a postmenopausal condition caused by decreased estrogen levels.
  • Genetics, especially the inherited genes that regulate the body’s immune response to infections.

It’s common for some people to have bacteria in their urine but not experience any symptoms. In these cases, no treatment is necessary.

Talk with your health care team if you think you have a UTI. You may need an appointment to discuss your symptoms and collect a urine sample.

You should seek medical attention if you develop a fever, chills, disorientation, or back or side pain. These could be signs of a kidney infection, which requires treatment, or a systemic infection of the bloodstream that requires hospitalization.

Sarah Suarez is a physician assistant in OB-GYN in La Crosse and Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.

Topics in this Post

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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Sexually transmitted infections

STIs or sexually transmitted infections are diseases that are transmitted from one person to another mainly during sexual contact.

How are STIs transmitted?

  • During sexual intercourse;
  • By close bodily contact with a person who has sores and other rashes;
  • When sharing needles and syringes with a sick person when injecting drugs intravenously;
  • When using a non-sterile medical instrument;
  • On contact with the patient’s blood;

What’s wrong with STIs?

The insidiousness of STIs is that they can go unnoticed, without any manifestations (symptoms) or their symptoms can be extremely mild. And if STIs are not treated or treated incorrectly, then they become chronic, latent and can cause complications: inflammation of the urinary tract, internal genital organs.

Trichomonas infection

Trichomoniasis often occurs without external manifestations and is discovered incidentally during examination of the patient’s sexual partners or during examination for complications. The latent period is on average 10 days, but can be extended up to 6 months. Patients complain of frothy discharge with an unpleasant odor, severe itching or burning sensation of the genitals, impaired urination.

Diagnosis: a special blood test for the detection of antibodies (readiness of the analysis 24-72 hours).

The duration of treatment is long, after treatment the patient is observed for another 3 months.

Complications: in men affects the prostate gland, testicle, bladder. In women, it affects the uterus and ovaries.


Gonorrhea appears 3-5 (rarely 7) days after unprotected intercourse. The disease affects both men and women. The main complaints are purulent discharge, cramps and pain during urination. Gonorrhea can manifest itself in the mucous membranes of the eyes, mouth, intestines.

Diagnosis: smear (ready time for analysis 15-60 minutes).

Duration of treatment up to 10 days. Antibiotics are used for treatment.

Complications: both in men and women – infertility, damage to the joints, rectum, mucous membranes of the eyes.


Latent period is 5 to 30 days. Chlamydia proceeds without pronounced manifestations. Manifestations: discomfort, less often itching, pain, possibly frequent urination. All phenomena are usually short-term, but can be repeated. Chlamydia of the eyes in adults occurs, as a rule, when the infection is transferred from the genitourinary organs, and is often the first sign.

Diagnosis: smear (ready time 60 minutes), blood test for detection of antibodies (24 hours).

Treatment: Treatment terms are strictly individual. It is necessary to destroy the pathogen, restore immunity, restore reproductive function.

Complications: in men, the infection affects the prostate gland, testicle, bladder. In women, it affects the uterus, ovaries, inflammation of the abdominal cavity.

Genital herpes

Usually 3-70 days after infection, there is a burning sensation and itching, redness, and then small blisters. Bubbles quickly burst, sores appear in their place, this is accompanied by pain.

Diagnosis: blood test for detection of antibodies (ready time 24 hours).

Treatment: it is impossible to achieve a complete cure, the virus hides. Several courses of treatment are needed. They use antiviral drugs, painkillers, normalizing immunity.

Complications: in women, genital herpes often leads to abortion, premature birth, infection of the fetus. Damage to the mucous membrane of the eyes can lead to loss of vision. The relationship between the presence of herpes in a patient and cancer of the genital organs has been reliably revealed.

Candidiasis (thrush)

In the active phase, itching, burning, irritation of the genital organs, cheesy or crumbly discharge. The causes of the onset of the disease: violation of the hygiene of the genital organs, long-term use of antibiotics, diabetes mellitus.

Diagnosis: smear (ready time 30 minutes).

Treatment: with antifungal drugs that normalize immunity, local treatment of the genital mucosa.

Complications: often candidiasis of the genital organs is combined with candidiasis of the urinary system.

Papillomavirus infection (PVI)

In the body, the virus can be found on the surface of the skin and mucous membranes. The predominant route of transmission is sexual. And also in utero and during childbirth. Latent period ranges from 1 to 9(average 3 months). Spontaneous healing is not observed.

Manifestations: warty growths on the genitals, sometimes single, but more often multiple, may eventually take on the appearance of cauliflower. In women, papillomas can often reach large sizes. In both women and men, papillomas can be located not only on the outer surface of the genital organs, but also penetrate to the inner surfaces. Patients often complain of the appearance of growths, pain of an indefinite nature, including during urination, sexual intercourse, discharge with an unpleasant odor, itching and burning.

Diagnosis: blood test for antibodies.

Treatment: papillomas are removed by mechanical, chemical and thermal methods. For a complete cure, one procedure may not be enough.

Ureaplasmosis (mycoplasmosis)

An asymptomatic infection can be activated during pregnancy and childbirth, with hypothermia, various stressful situations. The latent period of infection is from 3 to 5 weeks. There may be periodic complaints of itching in the genital area, slight discharge from the genital organs, pain of an indefinite nature, mucous threads in the urine.

Diagnosis: blood test for antibodies.

Treatment: use antibiotics and drugs that normalize the immune system and microflora of the body. After treatment, the patient is observed by a doctor for 3 months.

Complications: Male infertility is associated with inflammatory processes in the genitourinary system. In women, infertility, pathologies of the fetus and newborn.

Contact-household transmission of sexually transmitted infections – Useful information

April 3, 2013

Many believe that since infections are called STIs, that is, sexually transmitted, it is impossible to get infected in other ways. Unfortunately, it is not. Very rarely, however, it happens that sexually transmitted infections are transmitted by household means. That is, STIs can be transmitted:

  • with kisses
  • close hugs
  • through common items
  • unsterilized medical instruments

However, you shouldn’t be too scared. According to dermatovenereologist of the Healthcare Institution “Minsk Regional Dermatovenerologic Dispensary”, Zhdanovich Zhanna Sergeevna, “The probability of contracting sexually transmitted infections for adults is unlikely and almost equal to zero.

In adulthood, even infection with chlamydia in water bodies does not occur. Therefore, the majority of STIs among adults are transmitted sexually.

Children, more often girls, who have not yet menstruated (usually up to 6-7 years of age) can become infected through the household route. Moreover, any STD – and gonorrhea, and chlamydia, and ureaplasmosis.

Moreover, the latter are primary-chronic, that is, they can be asymptomatic and are detected during certain examinations. Children can also become infected through the household route and from sick parents.”

However, forewarned is forearmed. And stocking up on useful information will never be superfluous.


95-98% of all cases of syphilis infection occur through sexual contact with a sick person. Rarely, however, the household route of infection with syphilis is likely, which in this case is more correctly called household syphilis. Modes of infection:

  • kissing
  • when biting
  • through objects contaminated with the pathogen
  • through minor skin lesions

People with weakened immune systems are susceptible to infection (according to statistics, 3% of cases of infection).

What to do? The carrier of the disease must be allocated separate personal household items, dishes.

The causative agent of syphilis is pale triponema. It is well preserved in humid environments, insensitive to cold. However, high temperatures are not well tolerated.

Gonorrhea :

The main way of spreading gonorrhea is sexual. Nevertheless, it is not excluded that infection by household means, which, however, is extremely rare (gonococci, the causative agents of gonorrhea, need a humid environment to maintain their vital activity, and cannot exist outside the human body).

Domestic transmission of gonorrhea possible:

  • in general use with the sick personal hygiene items, bed linen
  • when touching the eyes with hands contaminated with secretions of the patient
  • when using shared towels, washcloths, sponges

It is worth knowing that in the secretions of a sick person on objects, for example, underwear, gonococcus is able to maintain viability and pathogenic properties until it dries out (up to 4 hours).

What to do? Direct sunlight and heating above 56 degrees are detrimental to gonorrhea pathogens. Gonococci are not resistant to external influences, therefore they quickly die outside the human body.

Chlamydia :

Chlamydia is transmitted mainly through sexual contact, but the possibility of spreading chlamydia through the household is not excluded.

Household infection with chlamydia is possible:

  • when using the same bath with the patient, hygiene items, bedding, towels

In such ways, chlamydia can get not only on the mucous membrane of the genital organs, but also on the mucous membrane of the eye, which causes chlamydial conjunctivitis.


The main route of transmission of papillomavirus is the sexual route. The possibility of transmission of the virus by household means is not excluded:

  • through the hands of an infected person
  • through household items, such as dishes
  • in public places (pools, baths, etc. )
  • through kissing (if the oral mucosa is infected)

To prevent infection with the virus during sexual intercourse, it is recommended to use barrier methods of contraception. Prevention of infection by household means is possible with vaccination.


Genital herpes in the vast majority of cases is transmitted sexually. However, infection can occur in the household way:

  • saliva
  • linen, towels
  • common dishes
  • hygiene products
  • toilet seats
  • pools, baths

Infection with the herpes virus through household items is unlikely, because at room temperature the virus dies quickly.

Candidiasis :

Unfortunately, the household way of infection with candidiasis, or “thrush” is very common. Fungal infection can occur:

  • via common items
  • thru bed linen
  • through dishes
  • microorganisms may be airborne

Thrush can also occur in the mouth area. In children, infection in this case often occurs through unsterilized nipples or dirty pacifiers, in adults – poorly washed vegetables and fruits.

Pediculosis :

Pubic lice are transmitted mainly through sexual contact, but the household route of infection through underwear is also possible.

What to do?

  • observe basic hygiene rules
  • regularly change underwear and bed linen
  • to iron clothes with an iron
  • do not allow other people to use your hairbrush, hats

Trichomoniasis :

The probability of contracting trichomoniasis by household means is small, but not excluded. Trichomoniasis can be contracted:

  • when using someone else’s underwear
  • when using a shared towel or washcloth

The causative agent of the disease is Trichomonas, which can survive in a humid environment for up to several hours. It is able to maintain viability on dishes, walls of bathtubs and pools, on toilet seats.

What to do?

Observe basic hygiene standards.


Infection by household transmission of mycoplasmas is unlikely, but possible:

  • in the bath, swimming pool
  • at the gym
  • through towel
  • through household items
  • through crockery, cutlery
  • through dirty hands
  • through bed and underwear
  • through a washcloth, sponge
  • through the toilet seat

Mycoplasmas are unstable in the external environment. However, this is often not a barrier to infection by household means.

Scabies :

Scabies is characterized by both sexual and contact mechanism of transmission. Infection with scabies can occur in public places (baths, pools, trains, clubs)

What to do?

  • a patient with scabies should use a personal towel, bedding and underwear, sleep separately.