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Urinary Tract Infections

A urine sample is used to test for an infection

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What is the urinary tract?

Your body cleans itself by making urine to get rid of things it doesn’t need.

The path that urine takes through your body is called your urinary tract.

Urinary tract infections are a common type of infection in the body.

Your urinary tract can become infected if germs from outside or inside of your body get into your urinary tract.

Urinary tract infections can be painful and annoying.

A urinary tract infection (also called a UTI) can:

Make you very sick by spreading to other parts of your body

Over a long time, affect your blood pressure and lead to heart disease

You may have a UTI if you:

  • Feel like you always need to urinate (even when you can only urinate a small amount)
  • Feel pain or burning when you urinate
  • Have cloudy, bloody, or strong smelling urine

If you have a UTI, you may also:

  • Feel tired, shaky, and worn-out
  • Feel pain in your back or stomach

Tell someone immediately if:

  • You feel very hot (have a fever)
  • You are throwing up or feel like you are going to throw up

Anyone can get a UTI, but you are at extra risk if you:

  • Are a woman
  • Are a man with an enlarged prostate or kidney stones
  • Have diabetes
  • Use a catheter (a tube that helps urine leave your body)
  • Cannot control when you urinate

Having sex can also increase your risk of getting a UTI.

Having sex can especially increase your risk if:

  • You are a woman
  • You have a sexually transmitted disease (STD)
  • You have sex with someone who has an STD

If you are feeling sick, call the doctor!

Tell your doctor about what you feel in your body (your symptoms).

  • Try your best to explain exactly how you feel – this will help you get the best treatment!

Follow the doctor’s advice about what to do.

You may need to see the doctor for an exam.

Your doctor will take a urine sample and test it for any infection.

Your doctor may also take an x-ray or ultrasound to look inside your body.

Your doctor will tell you what to do to get better.

Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics (a kind of medicine).

Tell your doctor about other medications you are taking.

Make sure you understand all of the doctor’s instructions before you leave his or her office.

There are other things you can do to help yourself feel better!

Drink lots of water.

Urinate when you need to – try not to hold it too long.

Use a heating pad over your stomach to ease any pain.


  • Drinking coffee and alcohol
  • Eating spicy food
  • Smoking

There are many things women can do to prevent UTIs.

  • Drink lots of water every day.
  • When you need to urinate, do so as soon as possible.
  • Urinate soon after having sex.

Here are more ways to prevent UTIs.

  • Take showers instead of baths.
  • After using the bathroom, wipe from front to back.
  • Avoid using feminine hygiene products, like deodorant sprays, douches, or powders.

You can learn more about urinary tract infections here:

  • National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse
  • Mayo Clinic
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ENGLISH-HP_Urinary Tract Infections.pdf 548.61 KB
Last updated on Thu, 06/17/2010 - 15:00