Assessment

HISTORY. The patient with a UTI has a variety of symptoms that range from mild to severe. The typical complaint is of one or more of the following: frequency, burning, urgency, nocturia, blood or pus in the urine, and suprapubic fullness. If the infection has progressed to the kidney, there may be flank pain (referred to as costovertebral tenderness) and low-grade fever.

916 Urinary Tract Infection

Question the patient about risk factors, including recent catheterization of the urinary tract, pregnancy or recent childbirth, neurological problems, volume depletion, frequent sexual activity, and presence of a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Ask the patient to describe current sexual and birth control practices because poorly fitting diaphragms, the use of spermicides, and certain sexual practices such as anal intercourse place the patient at risk for a UTI.

PHYSICAL EXAMINATION. Physical examination is often unremarkable in the patient with a UTI, although some patients have costovertebral angle tenderness in cases of pyelonephritis. On occasion, the patient has fever, chills, and signs of a systemic infection. Inspect the urine to determine its color, clarity, odor, and character. Surveillance for STIs is recommended as part of the examination.

PSYCHOSOCIAL. UTIs rarely result in disruption of the patient's normal activities. The infection is generally acute and responds rapidly to antibiotic therapy. The general guidelines to increase fluid intake and concomitant frequent urination may be problematic for some patients in restrictive work environments. The accompanying discomfort may result in temporary restriction of sexual activity, especially if an STI is diagnosed.

Diagnostic Highlights

General Comments: UTIs are very easy to diagnose; follow-up testing demonstrates

the effectiveness of treatment.

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