A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that can occur anywhere along the urinary tract, which includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. UTIs are most common in the lower urinary tract, which includes the 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.

UTIs are usually treated with antibiotics, which are prescribed to kill the bacteria causing the infection. It’s important to take the full course of antibiotics, even if symptoms improve before the medication is finished. 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.

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. Some people may be at a higher risk of UTIs due to factors such as diabetes, pregnancy, or a weakened immune system. If you experience recurrent UTIs, you should talk to your doctor, as this may be an indication of an underlying problem.