Asymptomatic Bacteriuria

Asymptomatic bacteriuria is the presence of a large number of bacteria in the urine without the usual symptoms of burning or frequent urination. This is usually not harmful, and treatment may not be needed. A person with this condition will not be more likely to develop an infection in the future.

What are the causes?

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This condition is caused by an increase in bacteria in the urine. This increase can be caused by:

  • Bacteria entering the urinary tract, such as during sex.

  • A blockage in the urinary tract, such as from kidney stones or a tumor.

  • Bladder problems that prevent the bladder from emptying.

What increases the risk?

You are more likely to develop this condition if:

  • You have diabetes.

  • You are an older adult. This especially affects older adults in long-term care facilities.

  • You are pregnant and in the first trimester.

  • You have kidney stones.

  • You are female.

  • You have had a kidney transplant.

  • You have a leaky kidney tube valve (reflux).

  • You had a urinary catheter for a long period of time. This is a long, thin tube that collects urine.

What are the signs or symptoms?

There are no symptoms of this condition.

How is this diagnosed?

This condition is diagnosed with a urine test. Because this condition does not cause symptoms, it is usually diagnosed when a urine sample is taken to treat or diagnose another condition, such as pregnancy or kidney problems. Most women who are in their first trimester of pregnancy are screened for asymptomatic bacteriuria.

How is this treated?

Usually, treatment is not needed for this condition. Treating the condition can lead to other problems, such as a yeast infection or the growth of bacteria that do not respond to treatment (antibiotic-resistant bacteria).

Some people do need treatment with antibiotic medicines to prevent kidney infection, known as pyelonephritisTreatment is needed if:

  • You are pregnant. In pregnant women, kidney infection can lead to:

    • Early labor (premature labor).

    • Very low birth weight (fetal growth restriction).

    • Newborn death.

  • You are having a procedure that affects the urinary tract.

  • You have had a kidney transplant.

If you are diagnosed with this condition, talk with your health care provider about any concerns that you have.

Follow these instructions at home:

Medicines

  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.

  • If you were prescribed an antibiotic medicine, take it as told by your health care provider. Do not stop using the antibiotic even if you start to feel better.

General instructions

  • Monitor your condition for any changes.

  • Drink enough fluid to keep your urine pale yellow.

  • Urinate more often to keep your bladder empty.

  • If you are female, keep the area around your vagina and rectum clean. Wipe from front to back after urinating or having a bowel movement. Use each piece of toilet paper only once.

  • Keep all follow-up visits. This is important.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • You have symptoms of a urine infection, such as:

    • A burning sensation, or pain when you urinate.

    • A strong need to urinate, or urinating more often.

    • Urine turning discolored or cloudy.

    • Blood in your urine.

    • Urine that smells bad.

Get help right away if:

  • You develop signs of a kidney infection, such as:

    • Back pain or pelvic pain.

    • A fever or chills.

    • Nausea or vomiting.

    • Severe pain that cannot be controlled with medicine.

Summary

  • Asymptomatic bacteriuria is the presence of a large number of bacteria in the urine without the usual symptoms of burning or frequent urination.

  • Usually, treatment is not needed for this condition. Treating the condition can lead to other problems, such as a yeast infection or the growth of bacteria that do not respond to treatment.

  • Some people do need treatmentTreatment is needed if you are pregnant, if you are having a procedure that affects the urinary tract, or if you have had a kidney transplant.

  • If you were prescribed an antibiotic medicine, take it as told by your health care provider. Do not stop using the antibiotic even if you start to feel better.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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