About 8.1 million visits to the doctor, nurse practitioner or other health care provider each year are due to urinary tract infections, according to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse.
A urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria enters the urinary tract. The symptoms of a urinary tract infection depend on where in the urinary tract the infection is occurring.
The most common area of a urinary tract infection is the bladder. This type of infection is called cystitis.
An individual who has cystitis may have bloody or cloudy urine, which may be accompanied by a strong or foul odor. Urinary urgency may occur, in which the individual has a strong need to urinate.
She may have this urgency even after she has just emptied her bladder. Besides being frequent, urination may be painful.
Some individuals may have a low fever with cystitis. Lower abdominal or back pressure or discomfort may also occur.
An infection in the bladder may spread to the kidneys. When the urinary tract infection occurs in the kidneys, it is called pyelonephritis and it may occur in one or both kidneys.
Individuals with this type of urinary tract infection may have a fever above 101 degrees Fahrenheit, night sweats and fatigue. Pain may occur in the groin, side or back.
Sometimes, severe pain in the abdomen may occur. Individuals may have nausea, vomiting and flushed skin.
MedlinePlus noted that in elderly patients, their only symptoms of a urinary tract infection may be confusion.
A urinary tract infection in the urethra — the tube that transport urine from the bladder to outside the body — is called urethritis. With this type of urinary tract infection, an individual may have a burning sensation when she urinates.
Symptoms with a Catheter
Symptoms may be different for an individual who has a catheter. The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse noted that the only symptom she may experience is a fever without any other apparent cause.
Asymptomatic Urinary Tract Infections
Some individuals may have asymptomatic bacteriuria, in which bacteria are growing in their urinary tracts, but it does not produce symptoms. The American Academy of Family Physicians noted that treatment for asymptomatic bacteriuria should be done for pregnant women, but not necessarily for other women.
National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Urinary Tract Infections in Adults. Web. 23 May 2012
American Academy of Family Physicians. Urinary Tract Infections. Web. 23 May 2012
MayoClinic.com. Urinary Tract Infection. Web. 23 May 2012
MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Urinary Tract Infection – Adults. Web. 23 May 2012
Reviewed May 23, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith