Urinary Tract Infections: What You Need To Know

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are more common in women than men. The infection can occur in any part of the urinary system such as the kidney, bladder and urethra (1). In most cases, the infection occurs in the bladder or the urethra.

When the infection occurs in the bladder, it is usually painful and annoying. When the UTI spreads to the kidneys, the consequences can be very serious. Learn how to recognize if you have a UTI, what causes UTIs, the risk factors involved, and how you can treat and even prevent them.

What Are The Symptoms?

If you are trying to determine if you have UTI, you should look out for the symptoms below. If you are unsure, it is always prudent to get examined by your physician.

Woman with UTI Pressing Lower Abdomen
  • Feeling fatigued or shaky
  • When you urinate, you feel a burning sensation
  • You will feel pain or pressure in your lower o or back
  • Your urine is dark or bloody, and it smells strange
  • A frequent urge to urinate, although little comes out (2)
  • Women will experience pelvic pain

Because a urinary tract infection can occur in various body parts, symptoms will be different depending which body part is affected. Here is an overview of specific signs that may manifest themselves and which part of the urinary tract they will occur:

  • Urethra - burning during urination and discharge.
  • Bladder - blood in urine, lower abdomen discomfort and pelvic pressure.
  • Kidneys - nausea, vomiting, high fever and upper back pain.
Recognize the symptoms to know if you should get checked out for a UTI. Some signs include: feeling shaky, burning sensations upon urination, pain in lower abdomen or back, dark or bloody urine, frequent urges to urinate and pelvic pain. Pain will be experienced differently depending on where the infection is along the urinary tract.

What Causes Urinary Tract Infections?

The infections happen when bacteria have entered the urinary tract through the urethra and have begun to multiply in the bladder. The urinary system is made in such a way that it is supposed to prevent these types of bacteria from entering, but the bacteria can still sometimes penetrate. When the bacteria enters the urinary system, it develops into an infection at the following locations in the urinary tract:

Infection Of The Urethra

This type of infection is called urethritis. It occurs when the gastrointestinal bacteria spread from the anus to the urethra. Since the female urethra is close to the vagina, urethritis can occur as a result of sexually transmitted infections and gonorrhea.

Infection Of The Bladder

Woman with Bladder Infection Consulting Doctor

This type of infection is called cystitis. The cause of this type of infection is commonly Escherichia coli. The bacteria is, usually, located in the gastrointestinal tract. Women are especially at risk of cystitis because the distance of their urethra to the anus is short.

Other factors that can cause cystitis is sexual intercourse.

Infection Of The Kidney

Called Pyelonephritis, this can happen when a UTI is untreated and travels up the urinary tract. This can also happen by bacteria via the bloodstream, however that is much less common.

A Urinary Tract Infection is more common in women than in men and is an infection in any part of the urinary system. The symptoms of UTI include feeling pelvic pain, feeling fatigued, feeling a burning sensation while urinating and having a frequent urge to urinate. The infections occur when the bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra begin to multiply.

What Are The Risk Factors?

Understanding exactly which risk factors are involved can help alert people to the possibility of developing UTIs.

  • Urinary tract blockages - The presence of kidney stones can trap urine in the bladder and therefore increase the risk of UTIs.
  • Catheter use - Individuals who cannot urinate on their own and use a catheter increase their risk of UTIs.
  • Sexual activity - Women who are sexually active are more prone to UTIs than women who are not as active. New sexual partners also increase the risk of UTIs.
  • Suppressed immune system - Diabetes can impair the immune system, thereby increasing the risk of UTI.
Some of the risk factors that cause UTI include catheter use, sexual activity and a suppressed immune system.

What Are The Treatments For UTIs?

You may be able to avoid a visit to the doctor if you make use of these home remedies.

Cranberry Juice

Fresh Cranberries and Juice

A study has proven that cranberry juice can prevent UTI. The reason for its prevention is because of the compounds found in cranberries. The compounds can prevent Escherichia coli from entering the walls of the urethra. If the Escherichia coli cannot enter the urethra, then the bacteria will not be able to build up and form a UTI (3).


This shrub contains several chemicals with antiseptic properties. It becomes hydroquinone while passing through the bladder system. During the movement, it fights the infection. Although hydroquinone can fight the bacteria, it can cause liver damage when used in excess (4).


Goldenseal is a herb that contains a compound called berberine. The compound can hinder bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urethra.

Some of the other options include vitamin C, which can acidify the urine and prevent the growth of bacteria. You can combine baking soda with water, which can neutralize acidic urine. Speak to your physician about natural supplements which contain both uva ursi and berberine in order to get relief from your pain.


Antibiotics are the most common form of treatment for urinary tract infections. The drugs to choose will depend on the type of bacteria found in your system, as well as your health condition. The drugs that are most commonly recommended are cephalexin, fosfomycin, ceftriaxone and trimethoprim (5).

Some of the remedies for UTI are cranberry juice, as it contains a compound that can prevent Escherichia coli from entering the walls of the urethra; goldenseal has a compound called berberine, which hinders bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urethra; and antibiotics such cephalexin trimethoprim and fosfomycin.

How Can You Prevent Urinary Tract Infections?

One of the most effective ways to prevent UTI is to drink six to eight glasses of water on a daily basis. You should, also, not withhold urine for protracted periods. Make sure that you go to the bathroom as soon as the urge develops. The doctor can assist you if you are experiencing any urine incontinence or challenges to empty your bladder.

Women who are in postmenopause can use topical estrogen to prevent UTIs. If your UTI has stemmed from sexual intercourse, you may have to preventive antibiotics after intercourse. Women can also use vaginal probiotics such as lactobacillus to prevent UTIs (6).

Another prevention measure that you can take is to wipe from front to back. By doing so, you prevent the bacteria in the anal region from spreading to the vagina. Women should, also, empty out their bladder immediately after intercourse.

To prevent a UTI, you need to drink up to eight glasses of water daily and not withhold your urine for protracted periods. You can wipe from the front to the back to prevent the bacteria in the anal region from spreading into the vagina.
Brought to you by our expert team at Authority Health.

Juno received an MSc in Dietetics from Robert Gordon University in Scotland and is registered with the British Dietetic Association (BDA) and the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). As someone who has learned the value of healthy eating later in life, her passion is teaching younger children about the value of eating well. She offers hands-on, instructional classes to both children and adults to prepare healthy meals. In addition, she consults with local institutions and schools to promote healthy eating and advice on healthy meal preparation.

She has traveled the globe and been privileged to experience a wealth of cuisines, the Mediterranean diet being her favored (and healthiest) option. Juno loves creating in the kitchen and that is where she comes alive. According to Juno, “Food is medicine” and thinks that the adage of “we are what eat” should be the mantra we all should live by. Her big dream one day is to pen a cookbook with recipes from her travels but, for now, she is happy writing on her health and wellness blog.

She is married with 3 beautiful children, 2 Airedale Terriers, 4 cats and a guinea pig. She lives in the countryside of Southern England and loves nothing more than walking on the coast on a blustery day to blow away the cobwebs!