What Causes a Recurrent Urine Infection?

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Approximately one-third of females deal with a straightforward urinary tract infection before they reach the age of 24.

Men can have them too.

Up to half of female patients will experience at least one symptomatic urinary tract infection throughout their lifetime. Over a quarter of them can expect a recurrence within 6 months after being treated for the first infection.

Conditions that reduce normal immune function, such as diabetes or HIV, can cause men to become more susceptible to recurrent urinary tract infections.

Men with no protection when engaging in intercourse or those who have not undergone circumcision have an increased chance of acquiring a long-lasting urinary tract infection.

What are the potential sources of repeated urinary tract infections for both genders?

What are the proper methods to treat and stop them?

The guide below can answer all your queries.

What Is a Recurrent UTI?

UTI is a type of bacterial infection. It can affect the bladder, kidneys, ureters, or/and urethra. If someone has two urinary tract infections in the course of six months or three UTIs within one year, they are said to suffer from repeated or ongoing urinary tract infections.

Regularly having issues relating to a urinary tract infection usually indicates that fresh infections with differing types of bacteria exist.

If the organism does not change, this is a reoccurring infection. The cause of the patient’s condition could be attributed to prostatitis, a urinary stone, or an abscess, none of which have been adequately addressed.

It is essential to distinguish between a UTI recurrence (with the same microorganisms) and fast re-infection (with a different microorganism).

A relapse of infection occurs when an infection reappears within two weeks of completing medical treatment for the same strain of organism. Reinfection occurs when an individual contracts the same organism again two or more weeks after completing the course of treatment for the original infection. The majority of UTIs that keep reoccurring do not require a thorough examination.

How Long Is Too Long for a Chronic UTI to Last?

Folks are concerned about their well-being, particularly concerning how much time a urinary tract infection will endure. You should consult a medical professional if your urinary tract infection persists for more than 48 – 72 hours.

A period of about seven days of taking antibiotics can help lower the severity of the symptoms. People who get UTIs frequently often take low doses of antibiotics for at least a week after their symptoms lessen.

Are Recurring UTIs Common?

Repeated urinary tract infections are among the most common issues seen in urological practices. It is more likely that women experience health issues than men, with a ratio of 8 women to 1 man.

Between half and six-tenths of females endure at least one UTI in their existence. Approximately one-third of them can experience a UTI with symptoms that warrant antibiotic treatment.

Older adults have an even more severe issue with recurrent urinary tract infections. The incidence of urinary tract infections lowers in individuals during their middle years. However, they tend to increase again in elderly people.

Studies reveal that greater than 10 percent of females aged 65 or above had a urinary tract infection in the past year. The proportion of women aged 85 and over increases dramatically to almost 30%.

Then there is recurrent UTI during pregnancy. UTIs recur in around 4-5% percent of pregnancies. It is significant to consult an expert to handle a recurring urinary tract infection while pregnant.

It is evident that the rate of Urinary Tract Infections is quite high.

Signs and Symptoms

Wondering how it feels to get a UTI often? The manifestations of prolonged urinary tract infection may differ depending on which portion of the urinary system is affected.

Some of these signs can include:

  • Needing to urinate more frequently than usual at night.
  • Cloudy urine.
  • Smelly or dark colored urine.
  • Burning or painful sensations when urinating.
  • Urgent need to urinate.
  • Pain in the back, just below the ribs.
  • Pain in the lower tummy.
  • Blood in the urine.
  • Increased body temperature.
  • Reduced body temperature.

Elderly people may exhibit altered behaviors if their Urinary Tract Infection persists for two weeks. It can make them feel confused or agitated. Some might be prone to incontinence (wetting themselves).

No matter if the recurrent urinary infection symptoms appear in either men or women, it is imperative to identify what is causing the issue and address its underlying cause.


A UTI that continues to recur is typically caused by the same infectious agent being reintroduced. Being frequently intimate predisposes you to a recurrent UTI.

Men and women may experience repeated UTIs, not due to their cleaning habits but because they are naturally disposed to it. Genes are a major factor in the prevalence of urinary tract infections.

Their physiology makes them more prone to allowing microorganisms to enter, leading to urinary tract infections.

Research has shown that around 42% of human genes may be connected to the potential to develop recurrent UTIs in some individuals.

Other chronic UTI causes include antibiotic resistance. If a certain antibiotic is not effective against a certain type of bacteria, it will keep spreading and increasing in numbers.

This further exacerbates the situation, complicating efforts to address the infection. It may be possible that something other than an underlying condition is causing consistent UTIs.

Experts evaluated what causes a recurrent UTI. The analysis suggests that for those struggling with type 2 diabetes, a range of causes may make one more prone to suffering from UTI.

This encompasses disorders of the immune system, diabetic kidney disease, sugar levels in urine showing up abnormally high (glucosuria), and injury to the nerves responsible for physical bodily operations (autonomic neuropathy).

How Are UTIs Treated?

UTIs are usually treated with antibiotics. It is essential to take all of the prescribed antibiotics in order to stave off another urinary tract infection.

Can UTI symptoms linger after antibiotic treatment?

If antibiotics were successful, the signs and symptoms of a urinary tract infection should be gone. Once the patient has taken the entire course of antibiotics, and the symptoms still remain, additional tests and treatment will need to be given. A urine sample can be tested to find the most effective antibiotics for fighting the bacteria responsible for the infection. Diagnostic imaging (for instance, an ultrasound scan) may also be used to evaluate the urinary tract.

How long can a UTI go untreated?

If you ever observe red blood in your urine or are troubled about other indications of Urinary Tract Infection, get in touch with your doctor. Getting medical help right away not only cuts down the possibility of developing serious issues related to UTI but also curbs the likelihood of facing a long period of misdiagnosis if the symptoms are being caused by something other than a UTI.

If there are signs of back pain, fever, and vomiting/nausea, you should immediately seek medical attention since there is a possibility of causing permanent kidney harm and/or life-threatening issues.

Why UTIs Keep Coming Back

It is believed that half of the women who get a urinary tract infection will suffer from a repeat infection within the span of 12 months. A few people are plagued by recurrent UTIs, and others may endure ongoing UTI issues. Factors that may increase the chance of UTI recurrence include:

  • Sexual intercourse.
  • Certain types of birth control, particularly diaphragms and spermicidal agents.
  • Inherent predisposition: some women have urinary tracts that are more prone to bacterial invasion.
  • Anatomical abnormalities or blockages (e.g., due to kidney stones) in the urinary tract.
  • Immune suppression is caused by diseases such as diabetes.
  • Post-menopausal changes in the vaginal lining and in the ability of the bladder to contract.

Why Won’t My UTI Go Away with Antibiotics?

A UTI keeps coming back after antibiotic therapy. Am I doing something wrong?

Antibiotics are the go-to choice for managing most UTIs. But, not all patients will respond well to them.

There are 3 reasons this could happen:

  1. Another health condition is causing UTI-like symptoms.
  2. A different type of virus, fungi, or bacteria is the source of the infection.
  3. The bacteria you are trying to treat has antibiotic resistance.

There are certain medical conditions that have comparable signs to a UTI, such as acute cystitis, an overactive bladder, kidney stones, genital herpes, and more.

If a urine culture is not conducted in addition to the urinalysis, there is a chance that the antibiotics prescribed for recurrent urinary tract infections may not be suitable.

In the event of a bacterial infection with resistance to antibiotics, your doctor will request that you have a urine culture to determine the underlying bacteria. They can then accurately identify the ideal strategy to eliminate it. When all other antibiotics do not work, physicians typically recommend Pivmecillinam and Fosfomycin.

What Can Mimic a UTI?

Is there something else that could be causing the symptoms instead of a urinary tract infection? There are a variety of both contagious and non-contagious illnesses that can lead to symptoms that look like a urinary tract infection. Examples of ailments that can be seen include vaginitis, excessive bladder activity, and kidney stones; a few sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs); and maladies such as bladder cancer. It is essential to ensure a comprehensive examination of recurrent UTI symptoms since there could be potentially grave consequences that accompany some alternate diagnoses.

Bladder Cancer Signs and Symptoms in Women

Blood in the urine (hematuria)

  • Blood in the urine is the most common sign of bladder cancer and is also often the first sign noticed. This is because early bladder cancer frequently causes bleeding without pain or other symptoms.
  • Depending on the amount of blood present, the urine may appear pink, red, or brownish in color. When blood is present at levels not visible to the naked eye it is referred to as ‘microhematuria’. Microhematuria is detected by laboratory urine tests.
  • It is important to note that hematuria also occurs commonly in people who do not have bladder cancer. In one study, only about 10% of people with visible hematuria were diagnosed with bladder cancer.

A change in urination habits and/or symptoms of irritation, such as:

  • Increased frequency (e.g., needing to urinate several times during the night).
  • Pain or a burning sensation during urination.
  • Increased urgency.
  • Difficulty passing urine.

Signs of bladder cancer that has enlarged or expanded to other components of the body could lead to many symptoms, such as not being able to urinate, torment on the lower back of one side of the body, ache in the pelvic area, weight/appetite loss, fatigue, puffy feet, or agonizing bones.

If you are worried because you have observed any of these indicative signs, go to your physician and investigate what testing alternatives are available.

Can UTIs Increase the Risk of Bladder Cancer?

Investigations have been conducted to determine if Urinary Tract Infections are connected to a heightened possibility of bladder cancer.

  • Epidemiological studies that have examined evidence of an association between UTIs and urothelial carcinoma (a cancer which begins in urothelial cells of the urinary tract and accounts for approximately 90% of bladder cancer cases) have to date produced varying results. Some data indicates there may be an increased risk in individuals who experience previous UTIs, whereas other findings suggest that previous UTIs could have a protective effect against bladder cancer, possibly due to an anti-cancer effect of the antibiotics used in their treatment.
  • Colibactin, a bacterial toxin that can damage DNA, is suspected to play a role in some types of cancer. Researchers have recently detected colibactin production in E. coli isolated from the urine of patients with UTIs. Furthermore, in the urinary tracts of mice infected with colibactin-producing E. coli, DNA damage in bladder cells was observed (which included damage to urothelial cells involved in regenerating the lining of the bladder).
  • Preliminary data appears to support a link between recurrent UTIs and increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the bladder. 16 However, as squamous cell carcinoma is a rare type of bladder cancer (<5% of cases), the overall impact of this potential association would be relatively minor.

The conclusion is that the connection between urinary tract infections and bladder cancer has not been fully established. It is plain to see that recurrent UTIs in women have a major hazard of bladder cancer, as the symptoms of both are very similar and therefore cause diagnostic delays.

The Problem of Misdiagnosis in Women With Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is more prevalent in men than women, yet women tend to have tumors that are further along in development, thus resulting in a decreased rate of survival.

One of the biggest contributing factors to women having more progressed forms of bladder cancer when being diagnosed is the lag period that can transpire prior to a diagnosis being made. Reasons for this delay may include:

  • Blood in the urine, the most common symptom of bladder cancer, may be discounted by women as being related to menstruation or post-menopausal bleeding.
  • When blood in the urine and urinary irritation are reported to a doctor they may be initially misdiagnosed as a UTI. Additionally, if a woman subsequently presents after treatment failure for a misdiagnosed UTI, further antibiotics may be prescribed rather than carrying out a complete urological evaluation.
  • UTIs and bladder cancer can occur at the same time, in which case the UTI will be the logical first diagnosis.

Due to the difficulty identifying symptoms, it may take some time to accurately diagnose bladder cancer in female patients. Particular attention must be paid to the possibility that the bladder cancer has progressed to a point that might make it harder to treat.


Recurrent UTIs can happen to anyone. It is essential that you communicate with your physician regarding any indications you might be experiencing.

The doctor may suggest that you get a test to see if you are vulnerable to any illnesses and provide a urine sample from the middle of your stream of urine. Your medical provider might offer you a small quantity of antibiotics to manage your infection if you are more likely to be infected.

Only relying on medical treatment will not be sufficient to accomplish the goal. It is essential that you are mindful of what you are consuming if you wish to give your body the rest it needs. Some people also like to include natural supplements.

Consult your medical practitioner to determine the best treatment plan for you. Hospitalization is generally not needed to address this type of medical issue. It is sensible to schedule periodic appointments with your primary care physician.


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