Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. 

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Am Fam Physician. 2005;72(3):458

See related article on urinary tract infections.

What is a urinary tract infection?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a bladder infection caused by germs. If you have a UTI, it may hurt to go to the bathroom and you may have to go more than usual. Bladder infections are found most often in young women. Sex can make it easier for germs to get into the bladder. Also, women have a shorter urethra (the tube that drains the bladder) than men, making it easier to get a bladder infection.

How do I know if I have a UTI?

Your doctor can tell if you have a UTI by examining you. You might need special tests to make sure.

What do I do if I have a UTI?

Your doctor can give you medicine to make your infection go away. You should take the medicine until it is gone, even if you start to feel better. You also can get medicines (brand: Prodium), from a store to help make you feel better.

How do I prevent another infection?

There is no way to make sure you do not get another infection, but you should always follow your doctor’s directions. Other things that might help are:

  • Wiping from front to back when you go to the bathroom

  • Drinking a lot of water

  • Going to the bathroom right after you have sex

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