Are any tests needed?
In some cases the diagnosis may be obvious and no tests are needed. A test on a urine sample can confirm the diagnosis and identify what germ (bacterium) is causing the infection. Sometimes a dipstick test can provide enough information immediately. In other cases the urine sample is sent to a laboratory for further examination under a microscope. This result takes several days.
Further tests are not usually necessary if you are otherwise well and have a one-off infection. However, your doctor may advise tests of your kidney or bladder if an underlying problem is suspected. If you are a man, you may be advised to have some tests for your prostate gland.
An underlying problem is more likely if the infection does not clear with antibiotic medication, or if you have:
- Symptoms that suggest a kidney is infected (and not just the bladder).
- Recurring urine infections (for example, two or more episodes in a three-month period).
- Had problems with your kidney in the past, such as kidney stones or a damaged kidney.
- Symptoms that suggest a blockage (an obstruction) to the flow of urine.
Relevant tests may include:
- A blood test. This might be a general blood test, or a specific test for the prostate (called the prostate specific antigen, or PSA, test) if you are male.
- A scan of your kidneys or bladder, such as an ultrasound scan.
- Tests to see how well your bladder is functioning, called urodynamic tests.
- A look inside your bladder with a special telescope (cystoscopy).
Further reading and references
Management of suspected bacterial urinary tract infection in adults; Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network - SIGN (updated July 2012)
Guidelines on Urological Infections; European Association of Urology (2015)
Urinary tract infection (lower) - women; NICE CKS, July 2015 (UK access only)
Urinary tract infection (lower) - men; NICE CKS, October 2014 (UK access only)
Rowe TA, Juthani-Mehta M; Urinary tract infection in older adults. Aging health. 2013 Oct9(5). doi: 10.2217/ahe.13.38.
Just been prescribed ciprofloxacin for kidney infection wondering how long it take to work, was told 48 hours by GP but still feel really ill after 4 days. Never had this before so not sure how long...Guest
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