Urinary Tract Infection Diagnosis and Treatment

A raleigh urinary tract infection (UTI), can affect different parts of the urinary tract, including:

  • Bladder: An infection of the bladder known as cystitis.
  • Kidneys: Infections affecting one or both kidneys is called pyelonephritis.
  • Ureters: Ureters are the tubes that transport urine from the kidneys to the bladder; they are rarely the only site of a UTI.
  • Urethra: The urethra is another tube that transports urine from the bladder to the outside; when infected it is known as urethritis.

UTIs are predominately caused by bacteria entering the urethra and then bladder.  While developing a UTI in the bladder is most common, the infection can also spread to the kidneys.

Patients that suspect they may have a UTI are likely curious about how to treat their infection.  In this article we will investigate how to diagnose and ultimately treat a UTI.

Diagnosing a UTI

The following are typical procedures and tests used to diagnose urinary tract infections:

Urine sample analysis (urinalysis):  Often the first step in diagnosing a UTI, the doctor will likely ask the patient to provide a urine sample.  The urine sample is then analyzed to detect the presence of bacteria, red blood cells, or white blood cells which could be causing the infection.  To avoid contaminating the urine specimen, patients may be instructed to wipe their genital area with antiseptic prior urinating and to ensure urine is collected midstream.

Bacterial cultures:  After the urine sample is analyzed, it is sometimes necessary to grow the urinary tract bacteria in a urine culture.  The urine culture identifies the type of bacteria present so that the doctor can prescribe the most appropriate medications and treatment.

Urinary tract imaging:  Some patients have frequent, recurring urinary tract infections.  If the doctor suspects that this is due to an underlying abnormality in the urinary tract, an ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or computerized tomography (CT) scan could be ordered to rule out any abnormalities.  The doctor may use contrast dye to help highlight urinary tract structures.

Visually scoping the bladder (cystoscopy):  Also sometimes used for patients with recurring UTIs, a doctor could perform a cystoscopy.  Using a cystoscope, a thin, long tube with a lens, the doctor inserts the scope into the urethra.  The scope is then passed through to the bladder allowing the doctor to see inside the urethra and bladder.

UTI Treatment

The first line treatment for most urinary tract infections are antibiotics.  What drug is prescribed and how long it will be taken are dependent on the patient’s health condition and type of bacteria found in the diagnostic tests.  Most antibiotic treatments are taken at home but should a UTI become severe, IV antibiotics may need to be administered in a hospital.

Simple UTIs are commonly treated with the following drugs:

-Fosfomycin (Monurol)

-Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra)

-Nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin, Macrobid)

-Cephalexin (Keflex)


Fluoroquinolones (a group of antibiotic medicines) are not typically prescribed for simple UTIs as the risks of the drugs outweigh the benefits of treatment.  More complicated UTIs or those infecting the kidneys, may call for fluoroquinolone medications if no other treatment options are available.

Most symptoms of a mild UTI clear up after a few days of starting antibiotic treatments.  Some patients may need to continue the antibiotics for a week or more but in any case, patients should always take the entire course of antibiotics as prescribed by their doctor.

Patients that have frequent UTIs, may be required to stay on low-dose antibiotics for a period of months (initially six but could be longer).  If recurring UTIs are related to sexual intercourse, a single dose of antibiotic may be prescribed to take following sexual activity.

More on Urinary Tract Infections : What Causes Urinary Tract Infections?