Most of the time, your urine is sterile. This means there is no bacteria growing. On the other hand, if you have symptoms of a bladder or kidney infection, bacteria will be present and growing in your urine.
Sometimes, your health care provider may check your urine for bacteria, even when you do not have any symptoms. If enough bacteria are found in your urine, you have asymptomatic bacteriuria.
Screening - asymptomatic bacteria
Asymptomatic bacteriuria occurs in a small number of healthy people. It affects women more often than men. The reasons for the lack of symptoms are not well understood.
You are more likely to have this problem if you:
There are no symptoms of this problem.
If you have these symptoms, you may have a urinary tract infection, but you do not have asymptomatic bacteriuria.
Most people who have bacteria growing in their urine, but no symptoms, do not need treatment. This is because the bacteria are not causing any harm. In fact, treating most people with this problem may make it harder to treat infections in the future.
However, for some people getting a urinary tract infection is more likely or may cause more severe problems. As a result, treatment with antibiotics may be needed if:
Without symptoms being present, even people who are older adults, have diabetes, or have a catheter in place do not need treatment.
If it is not treated, you may have a kidney infection if you are at high risk.
Call your provider if you have:
You will need to be checked for a bladder or kidney infection.
Cooper KL, Badalato GM, Rutman MP. Infections of the urinary tract. In: Partin AW, Dmochowski RR, Kavoussi LR, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh-Wein Urology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 55.
Smaill FM, Vazquez JC. Antibiotics for asymptomatic bacteriuria in pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019;11:CD000490. PMID: 31765489 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31765489/.
Zalmanovici Trestioreanu A, Lador A, Sauerbrun-Cutler M-T, Leibovici L. Antibiotics for asymptomatic bacteriuria. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;4:CD009534. PMID: 25851268 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25851268/.