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Urinary Tract Infection – Risk Factors, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Updated on April 5, 2012

Urinary tract infection or commonly termed as UTI is a common and painful disease that could lead to morbidity and eventually sepsis (spread of infection) if left untreated. In the early twentieth century, treatment for UTI are not that effective causing a prolong infection among patients. Fortunately for us, our modern antibiotics could cure the disease in a couple of days.

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Risk Factors for Urinary Tract Infection

Females are at more risk for having a urinary tract infection compared to males. However males have an increased risk when they are above 50 years old when obstruction from an enlarged prostate could produce urinary tract infection. Other risk factors for females include frequent sexual intercourse, a new sexual partner, a previous UTI in the last 12 months, a maternal history of UTI, people with diabetes, and people who have urinary incontinence. Pregnancy could also increase the risk of having a urinary tract infection. In men, aside from obstruction from prostatic hyperthropy, a functional or an anatomic abnormality of the urinary tract and a lack of circumcision could increase the risk for urinary tract infections.

Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary symptoms of UTI include dysuria or pain when urinating, urinary frequency and urinary urgency. Patients presenting with these urinary symptoms should be evaluated for urinary tract infection. Non-urinary symptoms associated with UTI include back pain, nausea, vomiting, fever and hypogastric pain. Although these symptoms could present in other disease entities, urinary tract infection should be ruled out. Laboratory findings usually include leukocytosis (increased white blood cell count) in the CBC, elevated pus cells in the urine analysis, and a positive urine culture.

Causes of Urinary Tract Infection

There are different pathogens responsible for urinary tract infection, the most common of which is Escherichia Coli. Other pathogens causing urinary tract infections are Staphylococcus saprophyticus, Proteus species, Enterococcus species, Citrobacter species, Klebsiella species, Acinetobacter species, Morganella species, and Pseudomonas aeruginos. Knowledge of the different pathogens causing urinary tract infections is important for empiric antibiotic therapy prior to availability of culture studies.

Treatment of Urinary Tract Infection

Antimicrobial therapy is the treatment of choice in dealing with urinary tract infections. The choice, dose and duration of antimicrobial therapy depend on the site of infection and the presence or absence of complicating conditions. Empiric antibiotic therapy should target common pathogens causing UTI and a urine culture be done for proper identification of pathogens and for targeted antimicrobial therapy.

Urinary tract infections should be diagnose and should be treated appropriately as it could cause kidney damage and eventually sepsis if left untreated.


Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine 18th ed


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    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 

      5 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Thank you jhunpaler,

      For this well written and interesting article on a subject that can affect all of us but is rarely discussed.

      Voted up, useful and interesting.

      Kind regards Peter


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