Urinary tract infections usually occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract (e.g., urethra, bladder, ureters, kidneys) and multiply. UTIs are very common, especially in women and young children. Certain medical conditions and urinary system abnormalities can increase the risk for urinary tract infections.

If left untreated, an infection of the lower urinary tract (e.g., bladder infection, also called cystitis) may progress to the upper urinary tract, including the kidneys. Kidney infections (pyelonephritis) and recurrent urinary tract infections are serious conditions that can cause a number of complications.

If you suspect you may have a urinary tract infection, contact a urologist or another qualified health care provider. Here are some questions to ask your doctor about urinary tract infections. Print this page, check off the questions you would like answered, and take it with you to your appointment. By asking the right questions, you can help make sure that your UTI is diagnosed and treated properly, reduce your risk for UTI complications, and learn about ways to help prevent recurrent UTIs.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Urinary Tract Infections

  • What type of urinary tract infection do I have? Are there any complications associated with this type of infection?
  • Might my UTI be associated with lifestyle, medications, or an underlying medical condition or urinary tract abnormality?
  • What kinds of tests will be performed to determine the cause for my urinary tract infection? Why do you recommend these tests?
  • How should I prepare for these diagnostic tests?
  • When should I expect the results of my tests? Should I call for the results, or will someone contact me? Telephone number to call:
  • If an underlying condition is suspected, how might this condition be diagnosed and treated? Might I require surgery?
  • Does this medical condition increase my risk for recurrent UTIs?
  • Do you recommend I see a medical specialist, such as a urologist or urogynecologist, for my condition? Why or why not?
  • What type of medication(s) will be used to treat my UTI? Why do you recommend this treatment?
  • What are the possible side effects of this medication? Might this drug interact with other over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications or supplements?
  • After beginning treatment, how soon should my UTI symptoms improve?
  • What should I do if my symptoms do not improve or continue to worsen in spite of treatment, or if I experience severe side effects or complications associated with UTI or UTI treatment? Telephone number to call:
  • If I am at increased risk for recurrent UTIs, how can I help reduce this risk?
  • What types of additional tests may be necessary if I develop recurrent UTIs?
  • Might tests to monitor my kidney function or check for kidney damage be necessary? If so, what do these tests involve?
  • Do you recommend preventative antibiotic therapy? Why or why not?
  • Next appointment: Doctor: Date: Time:

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 27 Jan 2009

Last Modified: 13 Oct 2015