What is a urinary tract infection (UTI)?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria (germs) get into the urinary tract and multiply. The urinary tract is made up of the bladder, urethra (the tube carries urine out of the body), two kidneys and two ureters (tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder). These germs usually enter the urinary tract through the urethra and travel up to the bladder. The result is redness, swelling and pain in the urinary tract. If a UTI is not treated promptly, the bacteria can move up to the kidneys and cause a more serious type of infection, called pyelonephritis.

A urinary tract infection is an infection anywhere in the urinary tract. The urinary tract makes and stores urine and removes it from the body. Parts of the urinary tract include:

Kidneys—collect waste from blood to make urine Ureters (YOOR-uh-turz)—carry the urine from the kidneys to the bladder Bladder—stores urine until it is full Urethra (yoo-REE-thruh)—a short tube that carries urine from the bladder out of your body when you pass urine

This answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.

Kevin W. Windom, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
Another name for urinary tract infections is bladder infections or cystitis. UTIs happen when bacteria gets in the bladder and causes a significant amount of problems with urinary urgency, urinary frequency, and burning with urination. The most common bacteria that causes urinary tract infections are bacteria that are seen in feces, and this is the reason why proper hygiene is so important for women. UTIs are treated with antibiotics.

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