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General Health - UTI


Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most common problems that occur in women. There are two types of UTIs. Lower tract infections (cystitis, bladder infection, urethritis) involve the bladder and urethra. Upper tract infections (pyelonephritis) involve the kidneys and ureters.


Urinary tract infections are usually caused when bacteria that normally live in our digestive system get into the bladder.

UTIs are much more frequent in women than men, largely due to anatomical differences. The nearness of the female urethral opening to the vagina and rectum makes it easy for bacteria to enter the urinary tract. Furthermore, the female urethra is only one and one-half inches long; this permits infectious organisms to ascend into the bladder, ureters, and kidneys.

What Contributes to UTI?

Common conditions that may alter normal functioning and make you more susceptible to a urinary tract infection are:

Symptoms of Lower Tract Infections

Most women exhibit some of the following:

Certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and vaginal infections may cause symptoms similar to those of a urinary tract infection.

Symptoms of Upper Tract Infections

Most women exhibit some of the following:

Diagnosing UTI

To diagnose a urinary tract infection, your healthcare provider will listen to your symptoms, may perform an examination, and may ask for a urine sample to send to the laboratory for analysis. The presence of infection fighting white blood cells, red blood cells, bacteria, or nitrites (a waste product of bacterial growth) in the urine sample confirms the diagnosis of UTI. A culture of the urine may be performed to determine the exact organism causing the infection and the best antibiotic to prescribe.

Treating UTI

You will be started on an antibiotic if your symptoms and/or urinalysis indicate an infection. Take all the antibiotic as prescribed even if symptoms disappear. Missing antibiotic doses will increase the risk that a "silent" U T I may remain and symptoms return in the future. Antibiotics may also increase your risk of getting a vaginal yeast infection.

Drink plenty of fluids because the increased urine volume flushes the organisms from the bladder.

A bladder pain medication (e.g. phenazopyridine) is occasionally prescribed for severe burning with urination. This medication may change the color of the urine to red-orange or brown. It may also stain your clothing and contact lenses.

Upper urinary tract infections may require additional tests, longer courses of antibiotics, and sometimes intravenous medication and hospitalization.


It is not unusual for UTI’s to recur for some women. There are some things you can do to help prevent getting another UTI:

Recent studies on recurrent U T I’s suggest that long-term preventive antibiotics may help women with frequent recurrences. Antibiotics after intercourse may be helpful for women experiencing UTIs after sexual activity. Your healthcare provider may want to discuss these options, perform additional tests, or consider evaluation by a urologist if you have frequent UTIs.

Call the Advice Nurse at 814-863-4463 if any of the following happens:


In an emergency go to Mount Nittany Medical Center or call 911 for an ambulance.

Test Results and Advice Nurse

Please call the nurse for test results and advice: 814-863-4463


Appointments can be made online via the UHS website, by phone or in person. If you are unable to keep your appointment, please call and cancel. Otherwise you will be charged for the visit.

To schedule or cancel appointments call 814-863-0774 or schedule your appointment online through the University Health Services website

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. This information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.

Approved by the UHS Patient Education Committee

Revised 02/7/17

Other Health Topics: Women’s Health | Sexual Health | Birth Control | Illegal Drug Use

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