What is a Urinary Tract Infection?

The term UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) is commonly used to indicate an infection in the bladder.  Pyelonephritis is an infection of the kidney.

What are my chances of having a UTI?

Unfortunately 50% of women will suffer a urinary tract infection in their lifetime whereas only 10% of men share that fate.

Will I need testing?  

Studies have shown that the combination of painful urination, frequent urination, no discharge and no perineal (groin) irritation is a better predictor of a urinary tract infection than even a urine dipstick. A urinalysis is helpful in borderline presentations and a urine dipstick result is similar to laboratory urinalysis.

Will they need to collect a catheterized urine specimen?

A catheterized specimen may be necessary in young children or debilitated individuals, but a clean catch specimen (urinating in a cup) is usually sufficient.

What about cultures? Will I need a Urine Culture?

Urine cultures are only required in a select group of patients who are immunocompromised (such as patients receiving chemotherapy), allergic to antibiotics that we typically use to treat UTIs, have not responded to multiple courses of antibiotics or are being admitted to the hospital.

What can I do to prevent a UTI?  

There are many that advocate excellent hydration (drinking a lot of fluids), cranberry juice, wiping after urination in a certain direction and urinating after intercourse as preventive measures for a urinary tract infection, but none have been shown to be effective.

Will AZO cure a UTI?

AZO or Phenazopyridine is a bladder anesthetic and can decrease the symptoms of a UTI, but will not cure the infection. It may, in fact, cover up the symptoms and allow the bladder infection to progress to a kidney infection.  As well, the color change it produces in urine can interfere with many of our urine tests.

What is pyelonephritis?

This is a kidney infection and is marked by fever, chills and flank pain (mid-back pain) and must be treated aggressively to prevent severe illness.

If I have pyelonephritis, will I need to be admitted to the hospital?

If you are healthy, not vomiting, able to eat and drink, not pregnant and have transportation to rapidly return for care you will probably be able to go home after we have improved your symptoms.

How do I know its a UTI and not a sexual transmitted infection (STI)?

Testing is the only method to clearly determine, but STIs differ from urinary tract infections in that the symptoms of a STI generally develop more slowly, there is more commonly a discharge and a person with a STI rarely has blood in the urine or suprapubic pain (pain in your abdomen just above your pubic bone).