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Urinary Tract Infection In Older Adults


A urinary tract infection

(UTI) is caused by bacteria that get inside your urinary tract. Your urinary tract includes your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Urine is made in your kidneys, and it flows from the ureters to the bladder. Urine leaves the bladder through the urethra. A UTI is more common in your lower urinary tract, which includes your bladder and urethra.

Common signs and symptoms include the following:

  • Fever and chills
  • Pain or burning when you urinate
  • Urine that smells bad or looks cloudy, or blood in your urine
  • Urinating more often or waking from sleep to urinate
  • Sudden, strong need to urinate
  • Pain or pressure in your lower abdomen
  • Leaking urine
  • Confusion or agitation
  • Fatigue, shakiness, and weakness

Seek care immediately if:

  • You are urinating very little or not at all.
  • You are vomiting.
  • You have a high fever with shaking chills.
  • You have side or back pain that gets worse.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You are a woman and you have increased white or yellow discharge from your vagina.
  • You do not feel better after 2 days of taking antibiotics.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


Medicines treat the bacterial infection or decrease pain and burning when you urinate. You may also need medicines to decrease the urge to urinate often. Your healthcare provider may recommend cranberry juice or cranberry supplements to help decrease your symptoms.


  • Urinate when you feel the urge. Do not hold your urine because bacteria can grow in the bladder if urine stays in the bladder too long. It may be helpful to urinate at least every 3 to 4 hours.
  • Drink liquids as directed. Liquids can help flush bacteria from your urinary tract. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. You may need to drink more liquids than usual to help flush out the bacteria. Do not drink alcohol, caffeine, and citrus juices. These can irritate your bladder and increase your symptoms.
  • Apply heat on your abdomen for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed. Heat helps decrease discomfort and pressure in your bladder.

Prevent a UTI:

  • Women should wipe front to back after urinating or having a bowel movement. This may prevent germs from getting into the urinary tract.
  • Urinate after you have sex to flush away bacteria that can enter your urinary tract during sex.
  • Wear cotton underwear and clothes that fit loose. Tight pants and nylon underwear can trap moisture and cause bacteria to grow.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.