Urinary Tract Infection

A urinary tract infection, or UTI, is an infection anywhere in the urinary tract. It carries more specific names depending on where it occurs in the urinary tract, such as the bladder (cystitis), one or both kidneys (pyelonephritis), ureters (rarely the site of infection), or the urethra (urethritis). Most UTIs are caused by bacteria that enter the urethra and then the bladder, where it sometimes spreads to the kidneys. Normally, the body is able to remove the bacteria by clearing it out during urination. However, sometimes the bacteria attach to the walls of the bladder and multiply quickly, overwhelming the body’s ability to destroy them, resulting in an infection. Symptoms include cloudy or bloody urine, which may have a foul or strong odor; low-grade fever in some people; pain or burning upon urination; pressure or cramping in the lower abdomen or back; and a strong need to urinate often, even right after the bladder has been emptied.

Anyone can get a UTI, but females are more prone to them than men because the female urethra is shorter and closer to the rectum, making it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder. Factors that can increase the risk of UTIs for both men and women include age, immobility, urinary tract surgery, pregnancy, bowel incontinence, diabetes, a urinary catheter, enlarged prostate, kidney stones, and a narrowed urethra. UTIs are treated with antibiotic medications to kill the bacteria and relieve pain and burning, with symptoms typically disappearing within 24-48 hours. Home treatments such as fluids, cranberry juice, and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) also may help relieve symptoms and cure the infection.

The UAB Department of Urology specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the genitourinary tract, which includes both the urinary and reproductive systems. This multidisciplinary team of urologists, radiation and medical oncologists, nurse practitioners, and urology nurses and technicians work together to provide the most accurate diagnoses and effective treatment options available for male and female adult and pediatric patients. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UAB’s urology program among the top 50 of its kind in the nation.

The physicians and surgeons who staff the UAB Department of Urology are subspecialists in their areas of expertise. Most faculty members have completed fellowships in addition to the conventional urology training, including training in cancer treatment, kidney stone disease, male infertility, pediatric urology, and female urology. UAB Urology specialists are members of the American Board of Urology, the American Urological Association, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the Society for the Study of Male Reproduction, the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology, the Society of Urologic Oncology, the Society of Female Urology and Urodynamics, and the American Medical Association, among others.

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