OverviewKey FactsSymptomsCausesRisk factorsDiagnosisCelebs affectedPreventionSpecialist to visitTreatmentHome-careComplicationsAlternatives therapiesFAQsReferences
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Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Also known as UTI, Bladder Infection


Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most common bacterial infections in women. As the name suggests, it is an infection of the urinary tract which includes the kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder, and urethra. It is reported that around 50–60% of women might develop UTIs in their lifetime and around 20–30% of women suffer from recurrent urinary tract infections. 

One of the key reasons for UTIs is bacterial growth in the urinary tract which leads to an infection. Several factors can put you at risk of UTI which include holding urine for long durations, poor vaginal hygiene, hormonal problems such as diabetes etc.

Some of the common signs and symptoms include burning sensation during urination, frequent or intense urge to urinate even though little or nothing seems to come out and pain or pressure in the back or lower abdomen and rise in body temperature. One should consult  a gynecologist if the symptoms fail to improve in a day or two with home care.

Key Facts

Usually seen in
Gender affected
  • Both men and women but common in women
Body part(s) involved
  • Kidneys
  • Urinary Bladder
  • Urethra
  • Ureter
  • Worldwide: 150 million cases annually (2020)
  • India: 33.54 % (2018)
Mimicking Conditions
  • Pyelonephritis
  • Kidney stones
  • Vaginitis
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
  • Herpes
Specialists to consult
  • Gynecologist
  • Urologist

Symptoms Of UTIs

Urinary tract infections usually do not cause any signs and symptoms in its early course. However, there are certain symptoms which every woman needs to be aware of and book an appointment with a gynecologist if the symptoms fail to improve in a day or two with home treatment. Each type of UTI may result in more-specific signs and symptoms depending on which part of your urinary tract is infected which are:

  • Kidneys (acute pyelonephritis)

  • Bladder (cystitis)

  • Urethra (urethritis)

The common signs and symptoms of urinary tract infection include:

  • A strong and persistent urge to urinate

  • Experiencing a burning sensation while urinating

  • Appearance of cloudy urine

  • Strong-smelling urine

  • Feeling of not able to empty your bladder completely

  • Appearance of blood in the urine

  • A sudden urge to urinate

  • Feeling pain when you urinate

  • Experience lower back pain

Causes Of UTIs

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are some of the most common bacterial infections. Escherichia coli is the common bacteria that cause UTIs in most patients. Other common causative pathogens include Klebsiella pneumoniae, Proteus mirabilis, Enterococcus faecalis, and Staphylococcus saprophyticus. 


It usually occurs when bacteria enters the urinary bladder through the urethra and starts multiplying inside. Though most of the time, the urinary system of our body by design keeps out these bacteria, sometimes it fails. A full-grown infection of the urinary tract manifests when the body fails to deal with the infection. 

Some of the common causes of UTIs include:

  • Holding urine for long hours

  • Following poor vaginal hygiene, especially during menstruation

  • Suffering from health conditions such as diabetes, dehydration, etc

  • Experiencing irregular bowel movement or constipation

  • Not following proper hygiene practices post sexual activity

Risk Factors For UTIs

Urinary tract infections  (UTIs) are more common in women than in men. This could be attributed to the fact that women have shorter urethras than men. The shortness of the urethra, with its close relationship to the anus, makes it easy for bacteria to ascend in the urinary tract. Other factors that can up the risk of UTI include:

  • Changes in vaginal pH can trigger bacterial growth

  • Menopause causes a significant reduction in estrogen secretion which alters vaginal pH

  • Diabetes is correlated with the development of asymptomatic bacteriuria

  • Frequent sexual activity and having new sexual partners

  • Use of spermicides or diaphragm for birth control for contraception may irritate the vagina and urethra and facilitate the entry and colonization of bacteria

  • Other factors include age of the first UTI, maternal history of UTI and voiding dysfunction

In addition to these common factors, there are few other risk factors for UTI infection in women. These are: 

  • Abnormalities of the urinary tract

  • Poor immunity

  • Blockage of the urinary tract (due to kidney stones, etc)

  • Use of a catheter

  • Any recent surgery of the urinary tract

Diagnosis Of UTIs

As known, in most cases, a urinary tract infection does not cause any symptoms, which makes it difficult to diagnose. However, if you are experiencing any symptoms of UTI, then do consult your gynecologist at the earliest. Your doctor might perform a physical examination and ask clinical history followed by an internal examination to know about your condition. Some of the common tests that can help to check for bacterial infection include:

Celebs affected

Tanya Roberts
An American TV actress, Tanya Roberts, best known for her role in 1984 James Bond film “A View to a Kill”, suffered from UTI. The infection spread to her kidneys and gallbladder & the actress died of sepsis triggered by a urinary tract infection in 2021.
Lena Dunham
The Hollywood actress suffered from urinary tract infection which caused her severe abdominal pain.

Prevention Of UTIs

Most UTIs are caused by bacteria that are already in the bladder, so flushing them out is the most important way to prevent an infection. Here are some effective ways by which you can prevent recurrent UTIs:


1 . Drink enough fluids

One of the easiest and effective ways to prevent UTI is by staying well hydrated. Fluid helps move things through the urinary tract, but it also dilutes the urine so bacteria can’t grow. Make sure you drink 1-2 liters of fluids daily.

2 . Don’t hold the urine

The longer urine stays in the bladder, the higher are the chances of bacterial overgrowth since stagnant fluid is an ideal environment for an infection to develop. Do not get into the habit of holding on to it for long, since it will make you prone to infection.

3 . Practice good toilet hygiene

After you’re done, make sure you wipe from front to back to keep from pushing bacteria nearer to your urethra. This is especially important after a bowel movement.

4 . Make sure you empty your bladder after sex

Sexual intercourse can move bacteria from the vagina into the urethra, thereby increasing risk of infection.  Urinating after sex flushes out any bacteria that could have migrated to the bladder during intercourse.

5 . Choose contraceptives with caution

If you are prone to UTI, it is best to avoid spermicides and diaphragms. Spermicides not only introduce bacteria into your vagina but they also alter your vaginal pH, which can create an ideal environment for bacterial overgrowth. Diaphragms may interfere with your ability to empty your bladder completely, thereby increasing the risk of infection.

6 . Use female hygiene products carefully

If you get UTI too often, avoid bubble baths, bath oils, and perfumed products around genital area. Some doctors suggest switching from tampons to sanitary pads, since tampons may give bacteria more opportunity to enter the body and irritate the urethra.

7 . Change out of workout clothes quickly

If you are prone to UTI  it is best to change out of your workout clothes right after you are done. Excessive sweat can increase the risk of bacterial multiplication which in turn can migrate into your urethra and lead to UTI.

8. Avoid tight-fitting clothes

Avoiding tight-fitting clothing can actually help keep you dry, preventing bacteria from growing in the urinary tract. Wearing cotton underwear will prevent extra moisture from getting trapped around your urethra.

Specialist To Visit

If you experience any of these symptoms of UTI, consult your doctor at the earliest. Some of the specialists that can help detect and treat UTI include:

  • Gynecologist

  • Urologist

Consult India’s best doctors online with a single click.

Treatment Of UTIs

Antibiotics are the primary options for the treatment. If you have ever taken antibiotics you would have noticed that you start feeling better on the second day of taking the medications whereas your doctor has prescribed you 5 days worth of pills. 


Some medicines used to treat UTI are:

Home Care For UTIs

Some of the self care measures for UTI you can follow include:

  1. Use a hot water bottle to ease discomfort and pain.

  2. Drink plenty of water. Aim for 8-12 glasses everyday.

  3. Urinate when you first feel the need. Bacteria can grow when urine stays in the bladder too long.

  4. Wear cotton underwear and loose fitting clothes so that air can circulate and keep the area dry.

  5. Take Vitamin C. It increases the acid in urine so that bacteria cannot grow easily.

  6. Avoid chocolate, citrus, carbonated drinks and caffeine as these can irritate the lining of your bladder and it is easier for bacteria to survive.

Complications Of UTIs

If left untreated, UTI can last for several months. Moreover, there is a high chance that the infection might spread to other parts of the body such as the kidneys, which can lead to kidney infection. It can lead to recurrent infections, especially in the case of women. Also, in rare cases, it can lead to sepsis, a life-threatening infection of the blood which can lead to severe complications.

Alternative Therapies Of UTIs

Home remedies for UTI

Parsley: It acts as a diuretic and flushes your kidneys which in turn flush out the bacteria and speed up the healing process of UTI. Boil about 1-2 cups of water and add roughly 1 cup of fresh parsley or 2 tbsp of dried parsley. Allow it to simmer, strain and drink. In the summer you can refrigerate it and then have it.

Celery seeds: These also act as a diuretic and chewing a handful of them can help increase the production of urine. Once or twice a day you can snack on celery seeds after your meal.

Cucumbers: They have high water content and it is a great way to get that extra fluid through your system when you are having a hard time drinking enough water. Have cucumber juice with a dash of ginger juice or include cucumbers in your salad.

Probiotics: Probiotics are now considered as a major home remedy for fighting UTI causing bacteria. Studies suggest that benign bacterial flora helps to prevent increase of microorganisms that cause illness. Increase consumption of probiotics such as yoghurt, raw cheese, kimchi, kefir in your diet.

Garlic: Enriched with several properties, garlic serves as a rich source of allicin due to which it exhibits antibacterial properties. Daily intake of garlic clove has been found to be beneficial in averting such infections.

Cranberry: Studies show that cranberries can help to inhibit the growth and colonization of bacteria that cause infection, including E.coli , the most common bacteria seen in urinary tract infection.

Here’s more amazing reasons to have cranberries often!

Frequently Asked Questions


  1. Al-Badr A, Al-Shaikh G. Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections Management in Women: A review. Sultan Qaboos Univ Med J. 2013;13(3):359-367. External Link
  2. Rahman SR, Ahmed MF, Begum A. Occurrence of urinary tract infection in adolescent and adult women of shanty town in Dhaka City, Bangladesh. Ethiop J Health Sci. 2014 Apr;24(2):145-52. External Link
  3. Minardi D, d’Anzeo G, Cantoro D, Conti A, Muzzonigro G. Urinary tract infections in women: etiology and treatment options. Int J Gen Med. 2011;4:333-43. External Link
  4. Flores-Mireles AL, Walker JN, Caparon M, Hultgren SJ. Urinary tract infections: epidemiology, mechanisms of infection and treatment options. Nat Rev Microbiol. 2015 May;13(5):269-84. External Link
  5. Kontiokari T, Sundqvist K, Nuutinen M, Pokka T, Koskela M, Uhari M. Randomised trial of cranberry-lingonberry juice and Lactobacillus GG drink for the prevention of urinary tract infections in women. BMJ. 2001 Jun 30;322(7302):1571. External Link
  6. Karishetti MS, Shaik HB. Clinicomicrobial assessment of urinary tract infections in a tertiary care hospital. Indian J Health Sci Biomed Res 2019;12:69-74. External Link
  7. Pardeshi P. Prevalence of urinary tract infections and current scenario of antibiotic susceptibility pattern of bacteria causing UTI. Indian J Microbiol Res. 2018;5(3):334-338. External Link
  8. Kant S, Lohiya A, Kapil A, Gupta SK. Urinary tract infection among pregnant women at a secondary level hospital in Northern India. Indian J Public Health 2017;61:118-23 External Link
  9. McLellan LK, Hunstad DA. Urinary Tract Infection: Pathogenesis and Outlook. Trends Mol Med. 2016;22(11):946-957External Link
  10. Sabih A, Leslie SW. Complicated Urinary Tract Infections. [Updated 2021 Feb 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan. Available from: External Link
  11. Bono MJ, Reygaert WC. Urinary Tract Infection. [Updated 2020 Nov 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: External Link
  12. Kang CI, Kim J, Park DW, et al. Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Antibiotic Treatment of Community-Acquired Urinary Tract Infections. Infect Chemother. 2018;50(1):67-100. External Link
  13. Tan CW, Chlebicki MP. Urinary tract infections in adults. Singapore Med J. 2016;57(9):485-490. External Link
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