What is a UTI (urinary tract infection)?

What is a UTI (urinary tract infection)?

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) affect the urinary tract, including the bladder, urethra, or kidneys. Sometimes a urinary tract infection can develop into a severe infection that can cause a person to become very ill and they may then need to go to hospital.

What are the symptoms of a UTI?

A person with a UTI may have signs and symptoms including:

  • Needing to pee more frequently, suddenly, or more urgently than usual.
  • Pain or a burning sensation when peeing.
  • Needing to pee at night more often than usual.
  • New pain in the lower tummy.
  • New incontinence or wetting themselves that is worse than usual.
  • Kidney pain or pain in the lower back.
  • Blood in the pee.
  • Changes in behaviour, such as acting agitated or confused (delirium). This could be a symptom of a UTI but could also be due to other causes, which need to be ruled out.
  • General signs of infection, like a fever, a high temperature or feeling hot and shivery, with shaking (rigors) or chills.
  • A very low temperature, below 36°C.
  • A person may experience fewer of these symptoms if they have a urinary catheter.

What should you do if you think you have a UTI?

If you think you might have a UTI, ensure you are drinking enough fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated. Take paracetamol up to four times a day to reduce any pain.

Who to contact

Contact a healthcare professional if you think you might have a UTI, this could be your GP, a nurse, the community pharmacist, a walk-in centre or the NHS 111 service.


There are different treatment options to discuss with your healthcare professional. Antibiotics should only be taken if prescribed by a healthcare professional. Always ensure antibiotics are taken as directed on the medicine label.