UTIs: Key Q&A

Where does a UTI occur?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) can occur anywhere in your urinary tract. Most UTIs occur in the lower tract, which includes your urethra and bladder. If a UTI is not treated promptly, the bacteria can spread to the kidneys. The resulting kidney infection, called pyelonephritis, is the most serious type of UTI. It can lead to life-threatening complications, including kidney damage and the spread of the infection to your bloodstream, called urosepsis.

Will a UTI occur every time bacteria enter the bladder?
No. Normally, the body removes any bacteria in the bladder through urination, and most individuals do not exhibit any symptoms of infection. Also, some individuals, especially older adults, have bacteria in the bladder that does not cause any signs or symptoms. This condition, known as asymptomatic bacteriuria, does not typically pose any health risks.

Do burning and frequent urination always indicate a UTI?
No. Although these are common symptoms of UTIs, they may also indicate the presence of another condition called urethral syndrome. Urethral syndrome is the name given to a group of symptoms that affect the bladder, but cannot be attributed to a specific cause, such as bacterial infection. Only a doctor can determine whether a UTI or urethral syndrome is present. A condition known as interstitial cystitis can also mimic a UTI, but it is not related to infection. Interstitial cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder wall.

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