What Causes Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)?

There are a number of tests to help diagnose urinary tract infections. The fastest and simplest test is a urinalysis , which analyzes a sample of your urine, looking for bacteria and blood cells (both white and red). If you have a urinalysis, your doctor may ask you to clean your genital area with a special cloth (to kill exterior bacteria) and to begin collecting your urine mid-stream.

Other UTI diagnostic tests may include:

  • Urine culture , which involves growing bacteria from your urine in a lab setting to find out what type of bacteria is causing your infection, which helps your doctor choose the most effective antibiotic
  • Imaging your urinary tract , which may be performed using three different tests; these tests are usually reserved for people with recurrent infections:
    • A CT scan of the urinary tract
    • An ultrasound of the kidneys and/or bladder
  • A cystoscopy , which involves using an instrument called a cytoscope to see inside your urethra and bladder; it is sometimes done when people have recurrent UTIs to look for abnormalities that may be causing the infection
  • Blood tests (if kidney infection is suspected)
  • Pelvic exam (to rule out pelvic infection in women)
  • Rectal exam (to rule out prostatitis in men)

If you have signs or symptoms of a UTI, see your doctor to get an official diagnosis and treatment.

Learn more about UTIs

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