Urinary Tract Infection Complications, Prevention And Treatment


Urinary tract infections are any infections of the urinary system (UTI). The urinary system is made up of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. The lower urinary tract, which includes the bladder and urethra, is where the majority of infections occur.

Women are more prone to have a UTI than men are. A bladder-specific infection can be painful and unpleasant. However, a UTI can spread to the kidneys and result in serious medical problems.

Antibiotics are frequently used by medical professionals to treat urinary tract infections. You can also take precautions to lower your chance of initially having a UTI.


The most common cause of UTIs is when bacteria enter the urinary tract via the urethra and start to proliferate in the bladder. It is the purpose of the urinary system to keep germs out. Occasionally the barriers fall apart. In such a case, bacteria can take hold and cause a major infection of the urinary system.

The bladder and urethra are the most commonly affected areas by UTIs, which mostly affect women.

A bladder infection. Escherichia coli typically causes this form of UTI (E. coli). A prevalent form of bacteria in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is E. coli but occasionally, other microbes are at blame.

Although you do not have to be sexually active to get a bladder infection, having sex may certainly cause one. Every woman is at risk of bladder infections. The urethra is near the anus in females. Additionally, the bladder is near the urethral entrance. This makes it easier for bacteria around the anus to enter the urethra and then go to the bladder.

Urethral infection. Anus to urethra transmission of GI bacteria can result in this kind of UTI. Sexually transmitted infections can also result in an infection of the urethra. They include mycoplasma, chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and herpes. Women's urethras are located near the vagina, which makes this possible.

How can you tell if you have an infection of the urinary tract?

If you get UTI symptoms, get in touch with your doctor.

Risk Factors

Women commonly have UTIs. Throughout their careers, many women get many UTIs.

Female-specific risk factors for UTIs include:

Female body types. The urethra is shorter in women than in males. As a result, germs have to travel a shorter distance to reach the bladder.

Sexual behavior.  Sexual activity appears to increase the risk of UTIs. A new sexual partner raises risk further.

A few forms of birth control. Diaphragms for birth control may make you more likely to have UTIs. Additionally, using spermicidal agents increases risk.

Menopause. A decrease in the amount of estrogen in the blood after menopause affects the urinary system. The alterations may make UTIs more likely.

Additional causes of UTIs include:

Urinary system issues. Infants born with issues may have difficulty peeing if they have urinary tract issues. Backing up urine in the urethra can cause UTIs.

Obstructions in the urinary system. Kidney stones or an enlarged prostate can cause the bladder to get blocked with urine. As a result, the risk of UTIs is raised.

Immune system suppression. The immune system, the body's line of defence against pathogens, can be weakened by diabetes and other illnesses. This might make UTIs more likely.

Using a catheter. Those who are unable to urinate on their own frequently need to wear a catheter. The risk of UTIs is increased by using a catheter. Those who are hospitalized may use catheters. Additionally, those with difficult-to-control neurological issues may utilize them.

A recent urinary operation. Both urinary surgery and a urinary tract checkup with equipment might raise your chance of getting a UTI.


Not all UTIs result in symptoms. When they do, they could consist of:

  • An intense need to urinate persists
  • A scorching sensation during urination
  • Passing little volumes of urine frequently
  • Clear-looking cloudy urine
  • Red, bright pink, or cola-coloured pee are indications that there is blood in the urine.
  • Pee that smells strongly
  • Women who experience pelvic pain typically experience it in the middle of the pelvis and near the pubic bone.
  • UTIs in elderly persons may go unnoticed or be confused with other illnesses.


These actions might aid in reducing the risk of UTIs:

Especially water, and drink a lot of liquids. Urine can be diluted by drinking water. As a result, you urinate more frequently, which enables you to wash bacteria out of your urinary system before an illness develops.

Consider cranberry juice. Studies examining the possibility that cranberry juice protects against UTIs are preliminary. Cranberry juice consumption is probably safe.

From front to back, wipe. Do this following a bowel movement and urination. It aids in limiting the transfer of germs from the anus to the urethra and vagina.

In the hours following intercourse, empty your bladder. Additionally, chug a full glass of water to help wash away microorganisms.

Avoid feminine items that can irritate you. They might irritate the urethra when used in the genital region. Sprays and powders are some of these items.

Change the way you use birth control. Diaphragms, unlubricated condoms, or condoms covered with spermicide can all promote bacterial development.


Antibiotics are typically the first line of treatment for urinary tract infections. What medication is used and how long you need to take it are determined by your health and the type of bacteria discovered in your urine.

Commonly prescribed drugs for straightforward UTIs include:

  • Sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim (Bactrim)
  • Fosfomycin (Monurol)
  • Nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin, Macrobid, Furadantin)
  • Cephalexin
  • Ceftriaxone

Fluoroquinolones are a class of antibiotics that are not frequently suggested for treating straightforward UTIs. Cipro, levofloxacin, and other medications are among them. For the treatment of simple UTIs, the hazards of these medications often exceed the advantages.

If there are no other available treatments for a serious UTI or kidney infection, your doctor may prescribe a fluoroquinolone drug.

Frequently, UTI symptoms go away in a few days. The length of your antibiotic treatment, however, maybe a week or longer. Take the medication exactly as directed.

Your doctor could suggest a shorter duration of therapy if you have an uncomplicated UTI and are otherwise healthy. This can mean the need to use an antibiotic for one to three days. Depending on your symptoms and medical history, a brief course of therapy may be sufficient to cure your infection.

Additionally, your doctor can prescribe a painkiller that will lessen burning while you urinate. However, discomfort often disappears shortly after taking an antibiotic.

If you have UTIs frequently, your doctor could advise:

  • Antibiotics at low doses. You might use them for a year or longer.
  • Self-diagnosis and self-treatment of symptoms. Additionally, you will be required to communicate with your provider.
  • Taking a single antibiotic pill after sexual activity if UTIs are caused by it.
  • Oestrogen treatment is delivered vaginally if you have entered menopause.
  • A serious infection
  • You could require IV antibiotics in a hospital for a serious UTI.

Complications of Urinary Tract Infection

Lower urinary tract infections nearly never cause issues when treated promptly and efficiently. UTIs can, however, lead to major health issues if they are not addressed.

Among a UTI's potential complications are:

  • When you have two or more UTIs in a period of six months or three or more in a period of a year, you are said to have experienced repeated infections. Women are more likely to get repeated infections.
  • Following an untreated UTI, kidney damage that cannot be healed has occurred.
  • Delivering a child that is underweight or early because of a pregnancy-related UTI.
  • A urethra that is constricted in males as a result of recurrent urethral infections.
  • Sepsis is a potentially fatal infection-related consequence. Particularly if the infection progresses up the urinary tract to the kidneys, this is a concern.


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Page last reviewed: Mar 20, 2023

Next review due: Mar 20, 2025

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