Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) in Women

A urinary tract infection, or UTI, is a general term for an infection anywhere between the kidneys and the urethra (where urine comes out). Most UTIs are bladder infections. They often cause pain or burning when you urinate.

UTIs are caused by bacteria and can be cured with antibiotics. Be sure to complete your treatment so that the infection does not get worse.


What are the symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI)?

The symptoms are different depending on where the infection is.

Symptoms of a UTI in the bladder include:

  • Pain or burning when you urinate.
  • An urge to urinate often, but usually passing only small amounts of urine.
  • Pain in the lower belly.
  • Urine that looks cloudy, is pink or red, or smells bad.

Symptoms of a UTI in the kidneys include:

  • Pain in the flank. This is felt just below the rib cage and above the waist on one or both sides of the back.
  • Fever and chills.
  • Nausea and vomiting.

Some people have bacteria in their urinary tract without having any symptoms. It may lead to infections that cause symptoms, but in many cases it doesn't. It usually goes away without treatment.


How is a urinary tract infection (UTI) diagnosed?

To diagnose a UTI, your doctor will test a sample of your urine to see if it has germs that cause infections. Your doctor will also ask you about your past health and do a physical exam. If you have infections often, you may need more tests to find out why.


How is a urinary tract infection (UTI) treated?

Antibiotics can cure most UTIs. It may help to drink lots of water and other fluids. Urinate often, and empty your bladder each time. For pain and burning, your doctor may advise you to take a medicine called phenazopyridine. If the UTI affects your kidneys or causes widespread infection, you may need hospital care.