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Urinary tract infection (UTI) in men: main symptoms and treatment options

Even though it is more common in women, urinary tract infections can also affect men and cause symptoms such as a sudden urge to urinate, pain, and stinging during or right after urinating. 

This type of infection is more common in men over 50 years old, as they have a higher risk of suffering from prostatic hyperplasia, those who practice anal sex, those who are not circumcised, those that have a problem that blocks the urine or those that use a urinary catheter to urinate with.

Urinary tract infection (UTI) in men: main symptoms and treatment options

In order to act as fast as possible to avoid complications, be attentive to the following symptoms that are characteristic of urinary tract infections:

  • Frequent need to urinate;
  • Pain and stinging when urinating;
  • Difficulty holding urine in;
  • Cloudy urine with a potent smell;
  • Waking up at night to go to the restroom;
  • Low fever;
  • Presence of blood in the urine;
  • Pain in the groin area and bottom of the back.

However, it is also common for the infection not to cause any symptoms in men, being only identified in routine tests.

How is the diagnosis made?

The diagnosis of the infection in men is based on the history of symptoms and through a urine test. The test will analyze a urine culture in order to identify the presence of microorganisms that may be causing the problem. The microorganisms that are found more frequently in those with a urinary tract infection are Escherichia coli, Klebsiella, and Proteus.

Additionally, the doctor may ask questions about the man’s sexual life, in order to identify risk factors for infections or STIs, as well as doing a rectal examination to check if the prostate has increased in size.  

In young men that have symptoms of an enlarged prostate, the urologist may also recommend tests such as computerized tomography, ultrasonography, and/or cystoscopy to assess if there are other problems in the urinary tract. 

What does the treatment consist of? 

The treatment for urinary tract infections in men is done according to the cause of the problem, with antibiotics usually being necessary.

In general, symptoms start to improve after 2 days of medicinal treatment, but in more serious cases a prolonged treatment (two or more weeks) or hospital admittance may be necessary.

What are the risk factors?

Some factors that can increase the risk of a man developing a urinary tract infection are:

  • Practicing unprotected anal sex;
  • Using a catheter to urinate;
  • Having an increased prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, as well as a family history of the illness;
  • Not ingesting enough liquids;
  • Holding urine for a long time on a frequent basis;
  • Urine reflux from the bladder to the kidneys;
  • Kidney stones;
  • Diabetes;
  • Multiple sclerosis or another neurologic disease;
  • Chronic kidney disease;
  • Urinary tract cancer;
  • Taking certain medications;
  • Chronic prostatitis.

Additionally, men who are not circumcised have bigger chances of suffering from urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted diseases, as the excess skin on the penis makes cleaning more difficult and increases the risk of microorganisms proliferating in that region.

Bibliography >

  • THE CONSUMER’S HANDBOOK OF UROLOGICAL HEALTH. Dealing with urinary tract infections: Tips for adult men and women. Available on: <https://www.cua.org/themes/web/assets/files/pdf/consumers_handbook/9-dealing_with_urinary_tract_infections_tips_for_adult_men_and_women.pdf>. Access in 21 Nov 2019
  • EUROPEAN ASSOCIATION OF UROLOGY. Guidelines on The Management of Urinary and Male Genital Tract Infections. 2008. Available on: <https://uroweb.org/wp-content/uploads/EAU-Guidelines-Male-UTI-2008.pdf>. Access in 21 Nov 2019
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