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What Is a Urinary Tract Infection?

By Stacy Lloyd HERWriter
 
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learn more about urinary tract infections
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Mayo Clinic defines a urinary tract infection (UTI) as an infection in any part of the urinary system -- the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Usually, bacteria get into the system through the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body, wrote WebMD.

The bacteria that usually cause these infections reside in the large intestine and found in stool. If these bacteria get inside the urethra, they can travel up into the bladder and kidneys and cause an infection.

Women get urinary tract infections much more frequently than men, most likely due to differences in the shape and length of the urethra, said KidsHealth.org. Women have shorter urethras than men. Plus the opening is closer to the rectum and vagina where bacteria are likely to be.

The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC) stated that others at higher risk for UTIs are people with diabetes or problems with the body’s natural defense system; those who use a catheter; those with urinary tract abnormalities; and people with spinal cord injuries or other nerve damage.

There are three main types of UTI. KidsHealth.org wrote that when bacteria only infects the urethra, it’s called urethritis. The most common type of UTI is cystitis, when bacteria cause a bladder infection. A more serious type of UTI is an infection of the kidney, known as pyelonephritis.

Urinary tract infections don't always cause symptoms, said Mayo Clinic, but when they do they may include:

- A strong, persistent urge to urinate

- Burning sensation when urinating

- Passing frequent, small amounts of urine

- Urine that appears cloudy

- Urine that appears red, bright pink or cola-colored (a sign of blood in the urine)

- Strong-smelling urine

- Pelvic pain in women and rectal pain in men

UTIs are treated with antibiotics, wrote WomensHealth.gov. People generally feel better in one or two days.

For most people, UTIs don’t return. But about one out of five women get another one. Some get several a year. NKUDIC said that once a man has a UTI, he’s likely to get another because bacteria can hide deep inside prostate tissue.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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