Navigating the World of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI): A Complete Guide

Rishabh Mehta
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Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
Dr. Akansha is a licensed Clinical Pharmacologist. She possesses remarkable knowledge in Pharmacovigilance, prescription analysis, drug information, and drug safety services. Additionally, she is a keen learner and an educator.

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Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) stands as one of the most prevalent diseases globally.

More than four hundred million cases of Urinary Tract Infections have been reported globally in 2019.

These infections not only affect a large number of people but also range from mild discomfort to serious complications.

All these factors make it necessary to develop a complete grasp of UTIs.

Read on to learn about Urinary Tract Infections, their causes, symptoms, and treatments.

What is a UTI

An ailment of the urinary tract resulting from infections from foreign Pathogens is called a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). 

These infections can result from various Pathogens, including fungi, bacteria, and viruses. 

UTIs can be broadly classified into three types: Urethritis, Cystitis, and Pyelonephritis.

Urethritis affects the urethra of the Urinary Tract, Cystitis infects the urinary bladder, and Pyelonephritis affects the kidneys.

Sometimes, the three types of infections are related and can be caused by the same group of pathogens.

Since there are different types of UTIs and the disease-causing agents vary, the symptoms of UTIs are diverse.

Understanding Urinary Tract Infection origins and swift recognition is paramount to prevent complications.

Let us explore the symptoms associated with Urinary Tract Infections in detail.

UTI symptoms

The symptoms of UTI are grouped together as they affect different parts for easier understanding.

Infection of urethra

Painful and frequent urinationSource: Prostock-studio
Painful urination

The following are the symptoms when the urethra is infected:

  • Painful and difficulty in urination (Dysuria)
  • An itching sensation in the urethra (Pruritus)
  • A burning sensation during micturition (the process of urination)
  • Inflammation of the glans penis (head of the penis) in men (Balanitis)
  • Inflammation of the foreskin in men (Posthitis)
  • Infection of the cervix in women (Cervicitis)
  • Intermenstrual vaginal bleeding
  • Urethral discharge at the opening
  • Painful genital ulcers

Infection of the urinary bladder

Symptoms of a urinary bladder infection include the following:

  • Suprapubic (area above the pubis) pain and tenderness
  • Increased urine urgency and frequency
  • Scalding sensation during urination
  • Cloudiness of urine and a foul odor
  • Traces blood in the urine (Hematuria) 
  • Feeling pain and pressure in the bladder area

Infection of kidneys

Checking her body temperatureSource: Kzenon
Checking her body temperature (fever – kidney infection symptom)

The following list shows the symptoms of kidney infection:

  • Traces of pus in the urine (Pyuria)
  • Swelling of the gall bladder (Cholecystitis)
  • Pelvic inflammation and tenderness
  • Pain in the flank region
  • Fever, vomiting, and constant nausea
  • Occasional traces of blood in the urine
  • Shivers and chills

General symptoms common to all UTIs

Several general symptoms are present in almost all forms of UTI at different infection stages:

  • Cloudy or bloody urine, accompanied by a foul smell
  • Mild fever in most cases
  • A sense of discomfort during urination
  • Pain and tenderness in the back, lower abdomen, and groin area
  • An urge to urinate frequently
  • Nausea and episodes of vomiting

You can empower yourself to seek timely help by knowing these symptoms.

Pus in urine (Pyuria) is nothing but the presence of dead White Blood Cells in urine in the form of a white suspension.

What causes a UTI

Both pathogenic and non-pathogenic agents can cause UTIs.

Listing the UTI causes for each part of the urinary tract makes it easier to understand the different types of UTI.

Infection of the urethra

Urethral infection can be caused by numerous agents, among which Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are the most prevalent.

Neisseria gonorrhea and Chlamydia trachomatis are the two most common bacteria causing UTI in the urethra.

While Mycoplasma Genitalium usually causes UTI in men, Trichomonas vaginalis can cause infection in the urogenital tract in both men and women.

Viral agents that cause infection include Adenovirus and Herpes Simplex Virus.

Candida sp. is a common yeast fungus that can irritate the urogenital tract.

Non-pathogenic agents include irritation and trauma, which can result from the following:

  • Intermittent Catheterization (insertion of foreign body) in the urethra during hospitalization
  • Physical activities like bicycle riding
  • Pressure caused by tight clothes 
  • Insufficient Estrogen levels in menopausal women
  • Products like specific soaps, powders, etc cause irritation.

Infection of the urinary bladder

Bacterial infections primarily cause infection of the urinary bladder.

Klebsiella Pneumoniae and Escherichia coli are the two most prevalent species that cause infection in most cases.

These pathogens have been found to affect more women than men.

In some cases, Klebsiella, Staphylococcus, Proteus, and Enterococcus bacteria are also found to cause bladder infection.

There are a few fungal infections, but the cases are rare.

Infection of the kidneys

Escherichia coli is the most frequent bacteria that cause kidney infection. 

Other bacteria that can cause infection in the kidneys include Proteus, Klebsiella, and Enterobacter.

Kidneys are infected in two ways:

  • When the microorganisms in the bladder infection migrate towards the kidneys via the ureters (tube joining kidneys to the urinary bladder)
  • The transfer of infection via the bloodstream
Infection of the kidneys is the most serious among all UTIs. Seek immediate medical help if you notice symptoms like flank pain, cloudy urine, fever, and nausea.

Evaluating the infection

All UTIs must be properly assessed before recommending any treatment.

Most evaluations use imaging techniques like Computed Tomography (CT) Scans, Ultrasound imaging, urine culture, and Urinalysis (chemical analysis of urines) tests.

For most non-serious UTIs, urine analysis satisfactorily serves the purpose.

However, serious cases and infections involving the kidneys require imaging techniques like CT scans and ultrasonography.

The Flow Cytometry technique is sometimes employed, where the number of White Blood Cells and bacteria is counted to detect UTI infections.

Urinalysis is an excellent tool to detect UTI infection with a high accuracy rate, even when the signs of the pathogens are present in only trace amounts. 

The best test so far to detect UTIs is using urine cultures. 

Since urine cultures and urine analysis are slow, UTI test strips are used for rapid analysis. 

These test strips check for specific chemicals secreted by the pathogens in the urine samples collected. 

However, a recent study showed that the sensibility and reliability of test strips on elderly patients are low as they gave a few false-positive test results.

Recent scientific developments have pioneered new types of test strips, which have a higher sensitivity.

These new test strips are equipped with biological markers (special chemicals to detect genetic material) that can trace even the tiniest amounts of bacterial infections in the samples.

As there are many options to evaluate the type and extent of infection in UTIs, the choice of the methods depends on the following: 

  • The urgency of the situation
  • The age and gender of the patient
  • The specific treatment required

Let us now take a look at the treatment options available.

UTI treatment

Managing Urinary Tract Infections requires a comprehensive guide on the treatment options available.

The treatments can range from the use of antibiotics to preventive measures.

Exploring these options can show the doctor and the patient a spectrum of possibilities.

Most therapies are directed based on the type of causal agents, the area of infection, and the severity of cases.

Read on to find out specific treatments available for Urinary Tract Infections.

Treatment for urethral infections

Illustration of Chlamydial infectionSource: Science_Photo_Library
Illustration of Chlamydial infection

The following antibiotics treat the conditions of the urethra:

  • For gonorrheal treatment, using a dose of Ceftriaxone/Azithromycin is recommended
  • For Mycoplasma genitalium infection in men, the use of Tetracycline, Macrolide, and Fluoroquinolones
  • For Chlamydial infection of the urethra, Doxycycline 100 mg oral administration for seven days is effective

Treatment for urinary bladder infections

Infection of the urinary bladder involves the use of the following antibiotics:

  • The use of Nitrofurantoin and Trimethoprim has been found effective
  • Drinking plenty of water, taking a urinary alkaliser (chemicals that increase the pH of urine), and avoiding acidic foods
  • Using painkillers like Paracetamol can help ease the discomfort

Treatment of kidney infections

The following are the ways kidney infections are treated:

  • Symptomatic treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen (400 mg) 
  • Intravenous and oral treatment using Ciprofloxacin antibiotic
  • Oral administration of Fluoroquinolone
  • E. coli infection in kidneys can be effectively dealt with drugs like Trimethoprim-Sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX)
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Integrative therapy using natural remedies

Drink plenty of waterSource: amenic181_from_Getty_Images
Drink plenty of water

It is often not enough to depend on antibiotics for UTI prevention and treatment.

Clinicians often recommend using natural remedies in the form of foods and nutrition to help supplement the healing process.

Some of such recommendations to treat and prevent UTIs are as follows:

  • Raw consumption of onions and garlic because of their antimicrobial action
  • An increased fluid intake daily
  • Consumption of probiotics like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium
  • Fruits rich in Vitamin C have been shown to reduce the risks of UTI
  • Cranberry juice acts as a natural treatment against serious kidney infections by E.coli
  • Drinking bearberry juice to reduce UTI incidence in menopausal women


All infections of the urinary tracts are termed as Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs).

Several pathogens, like bacteria, viruses, and fungi, cause UTIs.

Recognizing the symptoms of the infection is essential to identify the type of UTI and its probable pathogen.

The most common symptoms of UTI include a general sense of discomfort, painful and frequent urination, and pain in the lower abdomen. 

Several natural remedies like cranberry juice and raw garlic are effective against UTIs.

Regular checkups are essential, as most Urinary Tract Infections often go unnoticed in the early stages to maintain a healthy urinary tract.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main cause of UTI?

The main cause of UTIs in humans is a bacterial infection of the urinary tract. Fungi and viruses are also responsible for certain conditions. Non-pathogen issues like irritation and stress can also cause UTIs. 

What are the three main symptoms of UTI?

The main three symptoms of UTI include frequent and painful urination, blood and pus in urine, and groin and abdominal pain. Mild fever, chills, pain during coitus, and nausea can also be experienced. 

Is it harmful to take too many antibiotics?

Yes, taking too many antibiotics is harmful. Overuse of antibiotics leads to antibiotic resistance, where the bacteria becomes resistant to certain antibiotic dosages. The resistance reduces the effectiveness of the treatment and makes it harder for the patient to recover.

Can UTI be cured?

Yes, UTI is a completely curable disease. Timely administration of drugs and antibiotics and maintaining the recommended diet are sufficient to cure most UTIs. However, certain UTIs, like kidney infections, can become serious if not treated early.

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