What it is

A UTI is an infection anywhere in the urinary tract: the kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra. A UTI is caused by bacteria that originates in the digestive tract, in the vagina, or around the urethra. The bacteria enter the urethra and travel to the bladder and kidneys. Usually, your body removes the bacteria, and you have no symptoms. However, some people are prone to infection, especially women and older people.

What to look for

See your doctor if you have symptoms of burning when you urinate, frequent or intense urges to urinate, pain in your back or lower abdomen, cloudy, dark, bloody, or unusual-smelling urine, or fever or chills.

Repeat infections

UTIs can come back. About one in five women who get a UTI will get another one. Men frequently get repeat infections. If you get repeat UTIs, talk with your doctor about special treatment plans. You may need to take antibiotics over a longer period or start a suppressive antibiotic. Men may need a longer regimen of antibiotics because bacteria can hide in prostate tissue.

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Your urine will be checked under a microscope for bacteria and infection-fighting cells. The doctor may order a urine culture to determine the exact type of bacteria causing the infection, so the appropriate antibiotic can be prescribed.

MicroGenDX is a novel molecular-based test that extracts DNA from patient samples and runs that DNA against a database of over 25,000 microbial species. Using this technology, MicroGenDX is able to accurately identify all of the microbes contributing to an infection. 

MicroGenDX testing consists of two parts. Part 1 involves an initial PCR-based test that uses a targeted panel to identify the most common bacteria that may contribute to infection quickly. 

Part 2 uses a diagnostic tool called Next-Generation DNA Sequencing (NGS) to provide a broader detection capability to identify bacteria and/or fungi not able to be found in the initial panel. 

The doctor may use either x-rays, ultrasound, or a CT scan to view your bladder or kidneys. These pictures can show stones, blockage, or swelling which may contribute to UTI risk.

The urethra and bladder can be seen from the inside with a cystoscope, which is a thin tube with lenses like a microscope. The tube is inserted into the urinary tract through the urethra.

Once it is confirmed that your symptoms are caused by an infection, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to kill the bacteria causing the infection. The antibiotic prescribed will depend on the type of bacteria found. For simple infections, you’ll be given 3 days of therapy. For more serious infections, you’ll be given a prescription for 7 days or longer.