FAQ: Recurring Urinary Tract Infection
Written by Robert Smith   
Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Recurring urinary tract infection (UTI) involves repeated infections of the kidneys or bladder even after proper treatment.

What is going on in the body?


UTIs are usually caused by bacteria. In most cases, the bacteria enter the body through the skin around the genitals and anal area. The bacteria travel up toward the bladder or kidneys. If the bacteria are not killed by the person's immune system, an infection can occur.

What are the causes and risks of the infection?
Recurrent UTIs can occur for many reasons, including:
_ problems with the immune system
_ the use of a urinary catheter to empty the bladder
_ abnormalities in kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra can cause repeated infections. The ureters are tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder. The urethra is a tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.
_ damage to part of the urinary system
_ sexual intercourse, which seems to trigger UTI in some women
_ poor hygiene, such as wiping from back to front after a bowel movement or not changing the underwear often.What

are the treatments for the infection?
A person who has an abnormality in the urinary system may be able to have surgery to correct the problem. Otherwise, antibiotics, such as sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim or nitrofurantoin, are given to treat the UTI. A person may need to take these medications for a week or more in difficult cases of recurrent infection.

A person who has an artificial device, such as a urinary catheter, in the bladder should have the device changed or cleaned regularly.

What are the side effects of the treatments?
Antibiotics may cause allergic reactions and stomach upsets. Other side effects vary depending on the medication used.

What happens after treatment for the infection?
The person can usually go back to normal activities once the symptoms have gone away.

How is the infection monitored?
Often, a person with recurring UTIs is asked to give a urine sample after treatment is completed. A urinalysis and urine culture can be done to check that the bacteria are gone from the urinary tract.