A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that can occur anywhere in the urinary tract, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. UTIs are caused by bacteria, most commonly Escherichia coli (E. coli), which enter the urinary tract and cause inflammation and infection. UTIs are more common in women than men, due to the shorter urethra, which allows bacteria to reach the bladder more easily.

Symptoms of a UTI may include frequent urination, a burning sensation when urinating, cloudy, dark, bloody, or strong-smelling urine, and lower abdominal pain. In some cases, there may be no symptoms at all. People who have diabetes, weakened immune system, neurological conditions or are pregnant are at a higher risk of developing UTIs.

UTIs are usually treated with antibiotics, which are prescribed to kill the bacteria causing the infection. Drinking plenty of water can also help flush out bacteria, and cranberry juice may help prevent UTIs by making it harder for bacteria to stick to the urinary tract.

It’s important to take the full course of antibiotics, even if symptoms improve before the medication is finished. And there are some simple steps that can be taken to prevent UTIs, including drinking plenty of water, wiping from front to back after using the toilet, and urinating after sex. Avoiding holding urine for long periods of time can also help prevent UTIs.

If you experience recurrent UTIs, you should talk to your doctor, as this may be an indication of an underlying problem. And make sure to seek medical attention if you experience severe symptoms such as fever, nausea, vomiting, or severe pain in the lower back or side.