Asymptomatic bacteriuria and urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Asymptomatic bacteriuria is a common condition in which bacteria are present in the urine but there are no symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI). It usually goes away without treatment, but it can be permanent in some people.

Doctors disagree about whether treatment is needed for this condition, and many experts believe treatment should be reserved for UTIs with symptoms.1 But three groups should benefit from treatment. They are:

  • Pregnant women. All pregnant women should receive screening for asymptomatic bacteriuria. If not treated, 20% to 40% of pregnant women with this condition will develop kidney infections later in their pregnancies.1 A kidney infection can cause preterm labor and other problems in pregnant women.
  • People who have had kidney transplants.
  • People who are about to have surgery involving the urinary tract.

Citations

  1. Gupta K, Stamm WE (2008). Urinary tract infections. In DC Dale, DD Federman, eds., ACP Medicine, section 7, chap. 23. Hamilton, ON: BC Decker.

Last Updated: June 8, 2009

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