Urinary tract infection – adults: Symptoms & Signs, Diagnosis & Tests

Symptoms & Signs

The symptoms of a bladder infection include:

  • Cloudy or bloody urine, which may have a foul or strong odor
  • Low fever (not everyone will have a fever)
  • Pain or burning with urination
  • Pressure or cramping in the lower abdomen (usually middle) or back
  • Strong need to urinate often, even right after the bladder has been emptied

If the infection spreads to your kidneys, symptoms may include:

  • Chills and shaking or night sweats
  • Fatigue and a general ill feeling
  • Fever above 101 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Flank (side), back, or groin pain
  • Flushed, warm, or reddened skin
  • Mental changes or confusion (in the elderly, these symptoms often are the only signs of a UTI)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe abdominal pain (sometimes)

Diagnosis & Tests

A urine sample is usually collected to perform the following tests:

  • Urinalysis is done to look for white blood cells, red blood cells, bacteria, and to test for certain chemicals, such as nitrites in the urine. Most of the time, your doctor or nurse can diagnose an infection using a urinalysis.
  • Urine culture – clean catch may be done to identify the bacteria in the urine to make sure the correct antibiotic is being used for treatment.

CBC and a blood culture may be done.

The following tests may be done to help rule out problems in your urinary system that might lead to infection or make a UTI harder to treat:

  • CT scan of the abdomen
  • Intravenous pyelogram (IVP)
  • Kidney scan
  • Kidney ultrasound
  • Voiding cystourethrogram

Pictures & Images

Bladder catheterization, female


Review Date : 10/6/2009
Reviewed By : David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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