Asymptomatic bacteriuria is a significant number of bacteria in the urine that occurs without usual symptoms such as burning during urination or frequent urination.
Asympomatic bacteruria may not need treatment, which makes it different from a bacterial urinary tract infection.
Asymptomatic bacteriuria occurs in a small number of healthy individuals. It more often affects women than men. The reasons for the lack of symptoms are not well understood.
Most patients with asymptomatic bacteriuria do not need treatment because the bacteria isn't causing any harm. Persons who have urinary catheters often will have bacteriuria, but most will not have symptoms.
Certain people are at a higher risk for kidney infections if they develop asymptomatic bacteriuria. The following increases your risk:
- Infected kidney stones
- Kidney transplant
- Older age
- Pregnancy -- up to 40% of pregnant women with untreated asymptomatic bacteriuria will develop a kidney infection
- Vesicoureteral reflux in young children
By definition, asymptomatic bacteriuria causes no symptoms. The symptoms of a urinary tract infection include burning during urination, an increased urgency to urinate, and increased frequency of urination.
Not all patients with asymptomatic bacteriuria respond to treatment or even need treatment. Pregnant women, kidney transplant recipients, children with vesicoureteral reflux, and those with infected kidney stones appear to be more likely to benefit from treatment with antibiotics.
Giving antibiotics to persons who have long-term urinary catheters in place may cause harm. The bacteria may be more difficult to treat and the patients may develop a yeast infection.
If asymptomatic bacteriuria is found before a urological procedure, it should be treated to prevent complications. The course of treatment in these cases depends on the person's risk factors.
Most individuals with asymptomatic bacteriuria who do not have risk factors for complications do extremely well.
The outlook for those at high-risk is good if the infection is detected early, but it depends on the person's overall health.