Urinary tract infections (UTIs), also known as cystitis, are very common. Women are especially prone to UTIs because they have shorter urethras. This reduces the distance bacteria must travel to reach the bladder.

Symptoms and signs of infection vary depending on which part of your urinary tract is infected:

  • Urethra (urethritis): Signs and symptoms can include burning with urination and discharge.
  • Bladder (cystitis): Signs and symptoms can include frequent urination, pain with urination, discolored (bloody) urine, pelvic pressure, and lower abdominal discomfort.
  • Kidneys (acute pyelonephritis): Signs and symptoms can include flank pain, high fever, shaking and chills, nausea, and vomiting; see a doctor in person if you’re experiencing these symptoms.
  • Burning feeling during urination
  • Frequent urination or intense urge to urinate
  • Pain or discomfort in the lower stomach or abdomen or lower back
  • Cloudy, dark, bloody, or strange-smelling urine
  • Other symptoms may include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, fatigue or malaise

UTI disease causes vary depending on the type. Bladder and urethra infections are the most common types, and they’re more common in women.

  • Bladder UTIs are usually caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), but other bacteria can also cause them. Sexual intercourse can cause a bladder UTI by pushing bacteria into the urethra. But you can get a bladder UTI even if you’re not sexually active. The short distance between the urethral opening to the bladder puts women at higher risk of bladder infections.
  • Urethral UTIs can happen when bacteria from the anus travel to the urethra. They can also be caused by sexually transmitted infections, such as herpes, gonorrhea, and chlamydia.
  • Simple infections are treated with trimethoprim, cephalexin, and other antibiotics.
  • Complicated UTIs and kidney infections may be treated with a group of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones, which include ciprofloxacin (Cipro), levofloxacin (Levaquin), and others.

Most UTI infections are treated with antibiotics. Which drug the doctor will prescribe depends on the type of UTI you have.

The doctor may also prescribe a pain medication to numb your bladder and urethra. This can help relieve burning with urination.

Antibiotics are very effective, usually providing relief within a few days. It’s very important to take the full course of antibiotics your doctor prescribes, even if your symptoms improve.