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Causes and Symptoms

A urinary tract infection (UTI) refers to an infection in the urinary system caused by microbes.

Typically, this condition is caused by bacteria, but there are some cases wherein the infection is caused by fungi or viruses. It can happen in any part of the urinary system, which consists of the urethra, ureters, bladder and kidneys.

UTI can affect the lower tract consisting of the urethra and bladder or the upper tract consisting of the kidneys and ureters. While this infection rarely affects the upper tract, it is also more severe compared to lower tract UTIs.

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What Are the Common Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?

The symptoms of urinary tract infection (UTI) depend on which part of the urinary system is affected.

For a lower tract UTI, the following are the most common symptoms:

  • Burning sensation when urinating
  • More frequent urination without actually passing much urine
  • Heightened urgency to urinate
  • Blood in the urine
  • Cloudy or dark urine
  • Strong odor in the urine
  • Rectal pain (in men) and pelvic pain (in women)

Meanwhile, upper tract UTI has the following signs and symptoms:

  • Painful and tender upper back and sides
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea

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What Causes Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?

UTIs usually occur when bacteria enter the urinary system through the urethra and they start to multiply in the bladder and become a full-blown infection.

One type of bacteria that causes UTI is Escherichia coli (E. coli), which can be found in the gastrointestinal tract. A common way by which this can spread to the urethra and bladder is through sexual intercourse.

Other risk factors include:

  • Shorter urethra – Women are more likely to have UTI because of the location and length of their urethra. Since the urethra is close to the vagina and anus, naturally-occurring bacteria in these parts can infect the urethra or the rest of the urinary system.
  • Spermicides – Because spermicides can sometimes cause skin irritation, this can increase the risk of bacteria entering.
  • Non-lubricated condoms – Using non-lubricated condoms during sex can lead to greater friction and irritation, thereby increasing the risk of getting UTI.
  • Lower estrogen levels – Women will have lower estrogen levels after menopause, which then alters the bacteria in the vagina. Hence, there is a greater risk of acquiring UTI.

How to Know When to See a Doctor in Atlanta for UTI

If you’ve recently experienced some of the different symptoms of UTI, especially the upper tract UTI symptoms, it is recommended to consult with your doctor immediately. These symptoms may have prompted you to research solutions online for urinary tract infection using queries like “where to get UTI treatment near me” or “urologist near me.”

For those who are pregnant, it is recommended to call your Atlanta urologist immediately if you:

  • Have experienced UTI symptoms before and are experiencing them again
  • Are experiencing blood or pus in the urine
  • Minor UTI symptoms which do not subside in one to two days
  • Have UTI symptoms and have diabetes at the same time