UTI Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis

Your doctor will test a sample of your urine for bacteria and blood cells. This is called a urinalysis. It is important that you get instruction on how to collect the urine specimen properly to avoid bacterial contamination. A culture of the urine will tell the doctor which bacteria are present. Different antibiotics may also be tested to see which works best against the bacteria. If an infection does not clear up with treatment, or if you have repeated infections, your doctor may refer you to a urologist, a physician who specializes in diseases of the urinary tract. Often, the urologist will order special tests such as:

  • An ultrasound exam, which gives a picture of your kidneys and bladder using sound waves
  • A cystoscopic exam, which uses a hollow tube with special lenses to look inside the bladder
  • Urodynamics, a test that determines if the bladder is functioning properly
  • An intravenous pyelogram, which involves injecting a dye into a vein and taking images of your kidneys and bladder.

Treatment

UTIs are treated with antibiotics. Your doctor may ask you to take the antibiotics for a week or two to make sure the infection has been cured. If your infection has spread to your kidneys, you may need several weeks of antibiotic treatment. In addition to antibiotics, your doctor may also tell you to drink plenty of fluids.
When people have other health problems in addition to their UTI, such as an enlarged prostate gland (in a man) or kidney stones, they will need to have these problems treated along with the UTI.
Women are more prone to UTIs than men. A woman who gets UTIs often (three or more a year) should speak to her doctor. The doctor may recommend one of the following options:

  • Taking low doses of an antibiotic daily for six months or longer.
  • Taking a single dose of an antibiotic after having sex. (For many women, having sex seems to trigger a UTI.)
  • Taking an antibiotic for one or two days when symptoms of a UTI occur.