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IPAC News: Ask the Expert

What are the signs and symptoms of a urinary tract infection?

The following response has been provided by:  Liz Van Horne, Infection Prevention and Control Specialist, IPAC, Public Health Ontario

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the most commonly reported bacterial infection in long-term care homes. A urinary tract infection is present when bacteria enter the urinary tract and the person shows signs of an infection. Signs and symptoms of a UTI include the following:

Burning or pain when passing urine AND fever AND one or more of:

  • An increased need to pass urine more frequently
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Blood in the urine
  • Pain in the side or lower back
  • New or uncontrolled leaking of urine

Anyone with the signs and symptoms above should consult with their health care provider who can arrange for laboratory tests to confirm the presence of a UTI.

Other symptoms, such as smelly or cloudy urine, do not necessarily indicate a UTI. In the elderly, there may be bacteria in the urine but no signs or symptoms of an infection; this is known as asymptomatic bacteriuria and may not need to be treated. The presence of bacteria in the urine should be correlated with symptoms to determine whether the patient has a true UTI and ensure correct use of antibiotics.

Check out Public Health Ontario's new tools to help health care providers, long-term care residents, and families better understand UTIs and how to manage them.

Page last reviewed:  
Page last updated: 2014-06-02 1:59 PM
Uncontrolled print copy. Valid only on day of Print: [date]
Page updated on [date/time] 2014-06-02 1:59 PM
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