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Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) in Adults FAQs

Reviewed by Charles P. Davis, MD, PhD

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Q:How much urine does the average adult pass each day?

A:Every day, the average adult produces about a quart and a half of urine.

Twice as much urine is produced during the day as is produced at night. In addition, the amount of urine you produce day to day varies depending on what you eat and drink.

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Q:What is the most common cause of a urinary tract infection (UTI)?

A:Escherichia coli (E. coli) is the most common cause of urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Although many other organisms (Chlamydia, Mycoplasma, Proteus, Pseudomonas) may cause UTI infections, E. coli predominates in both men and women. Women have far more UTIs than men.

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Q:What is a common UTI risk factor in adults?

A:Enlarged prostate, catheter usage, and diabetes are common causes of UTIs in adults.

Individuals with an enlarged prostate gland that slows the flow of urine experience an increased risk of infection. Foreign bodies like catheters or tubes placed in the bladder increase the risk of infection. People who have diabetes or other problems that decrease immune function are also at increased risk for developing UTIs.

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Q:What are signs and symptoms of a UTI in adults?

A:Common signs and symptoms of UTIs are pain during urination, increased frequency of urination, milky or cloudy urine, and occasionally, foul-smelling urine.

Although some individuals with UTIs have no symptoms, most people develop at least one or two symptoms.

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Q:How many people in the U.S. visit the doctor each year to be treated for a UTI?

A:8.3 million people in the U.S. visit the doctor each year to be treated for a UTI.

UTIs are common infections and are the second most common type of infection encountered by health care professionals.

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Q:To prevent urinary tract infections, some doctors recommend that people drink which liquid?

A:Some physicians suggest drinking cranberry juice to both prevent and help treat UTIs.

In general, cranberry juice may augment antibiotics for treating acute UTIs but, in most cases, antibiotics are the most effective treatment for these infections.

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Q:On average, what percentage of pregnant women develops UTIs?

A:Approximately 2% to 4% of pregnant women develop UTIs.

Researchers suggest that hormonal changes and structural changes caused by the enlarging uterus make it easier for bacteria to travel up (retrograde spread) the urethra to the bladder, ureters, and the kidneys.

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Q:Which antibiotics are used in the treatment of uncomplicated UTIs?

A:There are several drugs that are used to treat uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTIs). They are trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra, Cotrim), amoxicillin (Amoxil, Trimox, Wymox), and ampicillin (Omnipen, Polycillin, Principen, Totacillin).

However, many strains of E. coli and other bacteria that cause UTIs may be resistant to one or more antibiotics.

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Q:How can women prevent urinary tract infections?

A:There are steps that women can take to help prevent UTIs:
- Do not postpone urination. Urinate when you feel the need.
- Wipe from front to back to avoid introducing bacteria into the vagina or urethra.
- Avoid using feminine sprays and douches. They may irritate the urethra.

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Q:A pregnant woman who develops a UTI needs prompt treatment to avoid what?

A:A urinary tract infection in a pregnant woman needs prompt treatment to avoid the complications of high blood pressure and premature delivery.

In general, penicillin-based antibiotics have been used to treat pregnant women with UTIs as long as they are not allergic to the antibiotic.

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Q:Erectile dysfunction is a common cause of UTIs in men. True or False?

A:Erectile dysfunction is not a common cause of UTIs in men.

However, catheter usage, an enlarged prostate, and urinary stones are often associated with UTIs in men.

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Q:What may provide some relief from UTI pain?

A:Drinking plenty of water helps to flush bacteria out of the urinary tract.

For some, a heating pad may also help reduce the discomfort that can accompany a UTI.

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Q:What percentage of women who have a UTI will have another?

A:In general, about 20% of women that develop a UTI will develop a second UTI.

It is not unusual for many women to have more than one UTI. The incidence increases with each UTI. Those women with a history of two UTIs have about a 30% chance of developing a third UTI. And about 80% of those that develop three UTIs will have recurrences. Individuals who have two or three UTIs per year are usually advised to see a specialist (urologist).

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Q:What comprises the urinary system?

A:The kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra comprise the urinary system.

Excess liquid and waste in the blood pass through the kidneys and form urine. Salts and other substances in the blood are kept in balance by the kidneys. The kidneys also produce a hormone that aids in the formation of red blood cells. The ureters carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder where urine is stored and then emptied through the urethra.

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