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Urinary Tract Infection

When to Seek Medical Care

Any adult or child who develops any of the symptoms of a urinary tract infection needs to be evaluated by a medical professional, preferably within 24 hours. Most medical offices can test urine for infection by using a quick urine "dipstick" test.

  • If you have symptoms of a lower urinary tract infection, call your health care provider for an appointment, preferably on the very day that symptoms are recognized.
  • If you have symptoms of an upper urinary tract infection involving the kidneys, call your health care provider immediately. Depending on the situation, he or she will recommend either a visit to the office or to a hospital emergency department.

If you have symptoms of a lower urinary tract infection and any of the following applies to you, you may have a urinary tract infection that involves the kidneys  . Go to a hospital emergency department right away.


Infants, children, and elderly people with any of the signs and symptoms should go to an emergency department for evaluation.

  • Fever, lethargy, and poor appetite may indicate a simple lower urinary tract infection in these groups, but they may also be signs of something more serious.
  • Urinary tract infections have the potential to make these vulnerable people very ill.
Self-Care at Home

Because the symptoms of a urinary tract infection mimic those of other conditions, you should see your health care provider if you think you have a urinary tract infection. A urine test is needed to confirm that you have an infection. Self-care is not recommended.

You can help reduce the discomfort by taking the following steps:

  • Follow your health care provider's treatment recommendations.
  • Finish all antibiotic medication even if you are feeling better before the medication is gone.
  • Take a pain-relieving medication.
  • Use a hot-water bottle to ease pain
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid coffee, alcohol, and spicy foods, all of which irritate the bladder.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking irritates the bladder and is known to cause bladder cancer.

Women and girls should wipe from front to back (not back to front) after going to the bathroom. This helps prevent bacteria from the anus entering the urethra.


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