A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common bacteria (E. coli) infection of the urinary system, which includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. The lower urinary tract refers to just the bladder and the urethra, and an infection can develop in either of these areas.
These infections occur much more frequently in women than in men, and can cause intense pain. In men, bacteria gets into the urinary tract through the urethra, a tube that drains urine from the bladder through the penis. UTIs are more common in women than in men because their urethra is shorter and the bacteria need to travel a shorter distance to reach their bladder.
Symptoms of a urinary tract infection include:
- Burning with urination
- Strong, constant urge to urinate
- Blood in the urine
- Back pain
If you are experiencing symptoms of a urinary tract infection, see your doctor right away. If left untreated, this condition can lead to kidney infections and cause permanent damage to the kidneys. A urinary tract infection can usually be treated with antibiotics.