The Chronic UTI Loop: Symptoms, Risk Factors, and Tips to Break The Cycle


Urgent or painful urination coupled with cloudy or foul-smelling urine: Distinctive signs you may have UTI.

You take a round of antibiotics, feel better, and gradually the discomfort subsides. But then after a few weeks or months, the symptoms return.


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Why do you keep getting this infection? What does that say about your overall health? How to get rid of UTIs forever?

This article will explore everything about urinary tract infections, why do they become chronic, and steps that you can take to reduce the recurrence of UTIs.


1. Urinary Tract Infections In Men And Women: All You Need To Know


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Let us start with the basics.

Urinary tract infection is a generalized term for an infection that occurs in your urinary system. This includes your:

  • Bladder
  • Urethra (the tube that’s responsible for draining your bladder)
  • Ureters (the tubes that carry urine from your kidneys to the bladder)

This Frontiers In Cellular And Infection Microbiology Journal confirms that this is amongst the most common infections in the world affecting almost 150 million people per year. (1)

According to this National Library of Medicine Journal, women are at a greater risk of developing UTIs than men, at a ratio of 8:1. (2)  


2. What Leads To This Infection And Do Your Symptoms Qualify As a UTI?


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There is a difference between how men and women get UTIs and how likely they are to get infected.

The Nature Reviews Microbiology Journal, UTIs says that UTIs in both men and women are caused by Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria along with certain fungi. The most common of these is the Escherichia coli (E.coli) bacteria. (3)

Normally, the urinary tract is sterile because of the chemical properties of the urine and your immune system. At times, bacteria infiltrate the body’s defenses and reach the renal organs, leading to UTIs.

This is where the similarities in the causative factors of UTIs for men and women end.

Let’s take a look at its gender-specific causes:


UTIs in Women

UTIs in Men

Gender-Specific Causes

A shorter urethra that offers easier access to a women's urinary tract

Blockage of the urethra (Urethral strictures) due to kidney stones or colovesical fistula


Sensitive skin that fosters bacteria

Prostate enlargement


Specific vaginal irritation-causing contraceptives like spermicides and diaphragms

Congenital malformations of the urinary system


Menopause-related changes in the vaginal pH levels

Prostate infections


Pregnancy-related changes in estrogen levels

Not having undergone circumcision

                    Common Causes 



  • Poor hygiene
  • Diabetes
  • SITs
  • Having undergone a renal transplant
  •  Prolonged use of catheters, nephrostomy tubes, or ureteric stents
  • Immune system disorders
  •  Dehydration
  • Active sexual life
  •  Weak or dry bladder muscles



According to an official website of the United States Government, a person may have asymptomatic bacteriuria, which means a UTI without signs or symptoms. (4)


Alternatively, there could be some clear signs and symptoms of prolonged UTI. These differ depending on which part of the urinary tract is involved:


UTI of the bladder or urethra

UTI of the ureters and kidneys

Foul-smelling urine


Fatigue or general malaise

Confusion, agitation, or restlessness

Pain or burning sensation while urination

Pain in the sides and back

Sudden and frequent need to urinate

Nauseaand vomiting

3. Why Do UTIs Recur Despite Treatment- Chronic UTIs Explained?


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As the name suggests, a chronic UTI is the one that is persistent or recurs. The Tzu Chi Medical Journal defines a chronic UTI as the one that relapses and re-infects a person within six months again or if you get three or more infections in a single year. (5)

This may happen due to several reasons. Sometimes a person’s symptoms start getting better and they stop taking the antibiotics.

Alternatively, the doctor may have switched you between antibiotics. The infection may reset during the time you take to adjust to the new medicine.

Besides these reasons, another major reason is a biofilm, which is a community of bacterial cells sticking together inside the bladder walls. 

This biofilm produces a slime-like consistency that protects it from antibiotics and the body’s natural defense.

Bacteria get released from this biofilm and trigger a reaction in the body leading to chronic UTI.



4. How Can You Identify Chronic UTI Infection Symptoms?


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If you are wondering whether you have the chronic UTI infection symptoms, here are some signs that you should know:

  1.     Frequent urination.
  2.     Pain in the legs.
  3.     Cloudy, dark, or bloody urine.
  4.     Pain in the bladder or kidney area.
  5.     Passing tiny amounts of urine frequently.


5. What Can Be Done To Prevent Chronic UTIs?


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We have collated some evidence-backed ways in which you can prevent chronic UTIs. According to a University Medical Journal, here’s what you can do (6):

  • Stay hydrated to encourage the natural flushing of bacteria.
  • Women must take care to wipe from front to back after a bowel movement.
  • Clean your anal and genital areas immediately after sexual intercourse.
  • Find alternative birth control measures for diaphragms and spermicides.
  • Don’t use chemical-based feminine hygiene products or body washes.
  • Wear light cotton undergarments.
  • Get your urinary retention problems treated.
  • Include more probiotics in your diet.
  • Load up on cranberry juice to include UTI-preventing tannins in your routine.



6. When Should You Worry About Chronic UTIs?


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As the Nature Reviews Urology Journal verifies, chronic UTI, when left untreated may lead to serious consequences (7) . Some of the most common long term UTI side effects include:

  • Sepsis
  • Morbidity
  • Papillary necrosis
  • Multiple organ dysfunction
  • Acute renal failure


7. How Can You Get Rid of UTIs For Life?


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UTIs not just cause painful and sometimes debilitating symptoms, but may also leave you in embarrassing situations and interfere with your daily routine.

So, if you are looking for relief from chronic UTI symptoms, here are some things that may help:

  • Avoid foods that can irritate your bladder. These include: caffeine, sodas, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, spicy and acidic foods.
  • Don’t attempt to treat yourself. Call your GP at the first sign of a UTI.
  • Don’t cut the antibiotic treatment short. Do the full course.
  • Avoid delays in urination. This reduces the risk of bacteria getting accumulated in your urinary tract and causing infections.


8. Takeaway

 Chronic UTIs do occur. But that doesn’t mean that they should interfere with your quality of life.

Nor do you have to live with their discomforting symptoms We have helped you understand the common chronic UTI symptoms and ways to prevent them.

These, coupled with finding effective treatment plans at your doctor’s office, will help you break the chronic UTI loop forever.

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