The laboratory test for a urinary tract infection (UTI) is called the urinalysis (UA), and, although it is known for being reliable, no test is perfect. In medicine there is a saying: treat the patient rather than the lab. What are some of the signs and symptoms of a urinary tract infection?

  • Kidney Infection (UTI that went up all the way to the kidneys)
    • Lower back and side (flank) pain
    • Fever
    • Shaking chills
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Weakness
  • Bladder Infection (Cystitis)
    • Pelvic pressure
    • Lower abdominal pain
    • Frequent, painful urination
    • Red or brown urine
    • Cloudy urine
  • Urethra
    • Burning pain with urination
    • Discharge

When a UTI is suspected, physicians get a history from the patient to try to rule out other causes of patients’ complaints. If the urinalysis is negative, but a UTI is still highly suspected, a trial of an antibiotic might be prescribed, along with further tests to find other possible diagnoses. Alternatively, a urine culture can be sent, and if it grows bacteria after a few days, then antibiotics should be started.

On the other hand, a positive urinalysis without any symptoms should not routinely be treated with antibiotics in an otherwise healthy individual: A positive urinalysis does not always equal a urinary tract infection. Therefore, a screening urinalysis should not be performed on healthy adults without UTI symptoms as this will lead to many false positive results, and unnecessary antibiotic administration. This may result in antibiotic resistance and side effects, like diarrhea and more.

Did you know? QuickMD can treat your UTI symptoms by telemedicine: our doctors can order a urinalysis for you and get you treated if positive.