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Conditions InDepth: Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

The urinary tract is a system of organs. Wastes are filtered from the blood to make urine. It moves through the tract until it passes from the body.
The urinary system is made up of:
  • Two kidneys—filter wastes from blood and make urine
  • Two ureters—tubes that move urine from the kidneys to the bladder
  • Bladder—a hollow organ that holds urine until you’re ready to pass it
  • Urethra—a tube that passes urine out of the body from the bladder
A UTI can happen in any of these structures.
The Urinary Tract
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A UTI happens when bacteria on the skin, genitals, or rectal area get into the urethra. Once there, they grow and spread. A UTI can also be caused by:
  • A medical procedure or surgery.
  • Placing a catheter—A tube placed through the urethra and into the bladder. Bacteria climb the tube into the bladder.
  • Having sex.
Many types of bacteria can cause a UTI. Rarely, they can be caused by fungi. In children, they can be caused by viruses.
What are the risk factors for a urinary tract infection?What are the symptoms of a urinary tract infection?How is a urinary tract infection diagnosed?What are the treatments for a urinary tract infection?Are there screening tests for a urinary tract infection?How can I reduce my risk of getting a urinary tract infection?What questions should I ask my doctor?What is it like to live with chronic urinary tract infections?Where can I get more information about urinary tract infections?

References

Bacterial urinary tract infections (UTIs). Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary-disorders/urinary-tract-infections-utis/bacterial-urinary-tract-infections-utis. Updated June 2018. Accessed September 20, 2018.
Definition & facts. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/bladder-infection-uti-in-adults/definition-facts. Updated March 2017. Accessed September 20, 2018.
Uncomplicated urinary tract infection (UTI) (pyelonephritis and cystitis). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116894/Uncomplicated-urinary-tract-infection-UTI-pyelonephritis-and-cystitis. Updated June 4, 2018. Accessed September 20, 2018.
Urinary tract infections in adults. Urology Care Foundation website. Available at: https://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/urinary-tract-infections-in-adults. Accessed September 20, 2018.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD
  • Review Date: 09/2018
  • Update Date: 09/20/2018
Article written by Carmack A