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What is a urinary tract infection (UTI)?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

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.

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.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.