Tell us where to send your FREE UTI GUIDE

Just enter your name and email address to access your free “UTI Guide”

UTI (Urinary Tract Infection)

UTI pain and discomfort

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the urinary system. The urinary system is comprised of (working backwards) the urethra (tube running from the bladder to the outside), bladder (where urine collects), ureters (tubes running from the kidneys to the bladder), and the kidneys (which filter impurities from the blood). An infection usually is a bacterial infection. The most common bacteria that infects the urinary tract is Escherichia coli or E. coli.

More women than men experience UTIs most likely due to the fact that they have shorter urethras. The bacteria have a shorter distance to travel to get to the bladder in women. Women also suffer from yeast infections which is a fungus rather than a bacteria. Men get them too but not as often.

The risk factors for UTIs (besides being female for the reasons given above) include any physical condition that may slow the flow of urine. Some examles of this would be an enlarged prostate, an abnormality of the urinary tract, inflammation, or a neurological condition like SCI (spinal cord injury). Patients who catheterize themselves to urinate also are at a higher risk of contracting a UTI.

UTIs are very common, leading up to 10 million doctor visits per year. Many infections go unnoticed, so it is important to be aware of the early signs of a UTI. Left untreated, UTIs can create problems ranging from pain and/or burning when urinating to organ damage and even death. Infections usually start in the urethra or bladder but then can progress to the ureters and kidneys. This is a very serious condition when the kidneys become infected since they are responsible for removing waste and keeping fluids and electrolytes in proper balance. If kidneys are injured or destroyed by infection, dialysis or a kidney transplant are the only options.

UTIs can be transmitted from person to person by sexual intercourse. Hospital induced infections can also occur if sterile procedures are not followed. Most infections occur from bacteria migrating from the skin into the urinary tract. It is important for UTI prevention to keep the genital area clean and to wipe from front to back.