By Cami Tesch, Student Nurse

College of Nursing, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh


How do I know if I have a UTI?

A urinary tract infection, also known as a UTI, is just as it sounds: an infection anywhere throughout the urinary tract. These infections are a result of bacteria entering the urethra, most commonly E. coli.

Who is at risk?

Anyone is at a potential risk for getting a UTI. However, women are more commonly diagnosed. Women have a shorter urethra, which allows bacteria to travel much quicker to the bladder. Men have a longer urethra making it  more difficult for bacteria to reach the bladder. The older adult population is also at a slightly higher risk for developing a UTI due to causes stated below.

What are symptoms?

The typical symptoms you may see in an individual with a UTI are:

  • Burning or pain during urination
  • Flank pain/pain in your mid back near your kidneys
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Cloudy urine
  • Urine having a foul odor
  • Slight blood in the urine

Those with symptoms should see a physician.

The older adult population (65+), may be showing some symptoms that were stated above, but older adults may develop significant cognitive impairments. Why is this? There are many theories to why this is, but one factor includes a decreased immune system, which is a characteristic of aging. Another factor is that many older adults do not drink enough water throughout the day, causing dehydration. Some common symptoms you may see in older adults with a UTI include:

  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium
  • Increased irritability
  • Increased falls
  • Incontinence

Those with symptoms should see a physician.

What is the doctor going to do?

If the doctor suspects a UTI,  a urine specimen will be requested. This test will check  the amount of bacteria in the urine. If a UTI is diagnosed, the doctor will most likely prescribe an antibiotic and probiotic. The antibiotic will allow the bacteria causing the infection to be killed, while the probiotic will allow the good bacteria in your body to remain.

Preventing a UTI

There are many ways to help prevent a UTI, including drinking plenty of water. Another thing to remember is to wipe the correct way: front to back. This way, bacteria is less likely to reach the urethra. When cleansing, make sure to use the proper pH balanced soap. Soaps that have strong scents or are perfumed could change the natural environment of the genital area. Another way to help prevent a UTI is toileting frequently. This will help to clear the urethra.

For any other questions, visit the links provided below:


Cleveland Clinic Medical Professionals. (2020). Urinary tract infections. Cleveland Clinic.

Retrieved from:

Rotolo, C. (2021). UTIs cause unusual behavior symptoms in elders. Aging Care. Retrieved from:

Urinary tract infections in adults. (2019). Urology Care Foundation. Retrieved from: