Utah State University Logo

Student Health Services

Urinary Tract Infection

What is it?

This is an infection of the body system that deals with storage and elimination of urine. It may involve the urethra (urethritis) and/or the bladder (cystitis). The bladder stores urine and the urethra is the tube that connects your bladder with the outside of your body. Infections of the lower urinary tract may occur in men, although they are more common in women.

What Causes It?

Bacteria, which may be present in the vagina and genital areas, enter the urethra and travel to the bladder. Bacteria are not usually present in the urethra or bladder, but may enter during sexual relations or without any obvious cause. If left untreated, bacteria may travel up to the kidneys, causing severe infection and possible lasting damage.

What are the symptoms?

You may experience any of the following:

  • Frequent urination, usually in small amounts
  • Urgency, or feeling of need to urinate right now
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Pressure or cramps in the lower abdomen
  • Bad smelling or cloudy urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Feeling tired
  • Fever

How is it identified?

Your health care provider will ask you for your symptoms and do a physical exam. You may need a special exam of your genital region or a pelvic exam. You will need to provide a sample of your urine for analysis for bacteria and their effects on the bladder tissues. You may need testing for sexually transmitted infections, if you are at risk.

How is it treated?

Antibiotics are used to treat the infection, and medications may be recommended for the discomfort, as well. If you think you may be pregnant, be certain to mention this possibility to your health care provider.

What should you do?

  • Take all of your antibiotic medication on time, until they are gone, even though you feel better.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to keep your urinary system flushed and drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.
  • Urinate as soon as you need to. Do not hold it.
  • Take time to strain and make sure the bladder is completely emptied with each urination.
  • Urinate before and after sexual intercourse.
  • After using the toilet, always wipe from front to back.

Call the Student Health and Wellness Center if you:

  • Have blood in your urine after taking the medication for three days
  • Don't feel better after three days
  • Feel worse at any time
  • Think you may be allergic to the medicine

When Taking Your Medications:

  • Finish all your antibiotic medication or re-infection may occur
  • Take your medication with a full glass of liquid
  • Drink extra fluids during the course of your illness
  • Tell your health care provider if you are pregnant or if you are taking other medications, especially the birth control pill

Watch For:

  • Fever, chills or increasing pain
  • Pain in the low back, or other location
  • Blood in urine
  • Recurrent symptoms after finishing the medication