Escherichia Coli (E. coli) in Urine Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

E. coli (Escherichia coli) in urine is a common organism present in many patients suffering from urinary tract infection (UTI). Sometimes the bacteria may be accidentally detected during microscopic examination of urine. In other cases it is discovered when pathological test is done to confirm UTI due to presence of symptoms.

E. coli is a bacterium that is naturally found in intestine of human beings. However, when the colonies of E coli grow out of proportion, it can infect the urinary tract through blood route or move upwards from the urethra into the urinary tract. The later route of transmission is more prevalent in women because of the anatomical proximity between urethra and anus. According to an estimate nearly 80 percent of women may have suffered from UTI sometime in their life. Most of which is caused due to E.coli germs. Urine infection caused due to E.coli is treated with antibiotics, either oral or through intravenous route depending on the severity of the symptoms.

Symptoms of E.coli in urine:

As mentioned earlier E.coli bacteria are the common cause for urinary tract infection.

Almost 80 percent of UTI cases are caused due to E.coli. They are rapidly growing bacteria. Usually E.coli when present in urine suggests that there is an infection and in majority of cases it is symptomatic. In rare cases E.coli in urine remains asymptomatic. Following are some of the symptoms present due to E.coli infection in urine.

  • Burning urination
  • Increased frequency to pass urine even if there is very less urine stored in the bladder.
  • Red or orange colored urine due to presence of blood in urine.
  • Foul smelling and cloudy urine.
  • Fever with rigors
  • Pain in lower abdomen and in pelvis.
  • Pain may be present in lower back and in the loin.

Causes of E.coli in urine:

E.coli is a bacterium that commonly resides in the large intestine. The bacteria are passed in stool. They can reach in the urinary tract through contamination. In women because the urethra is short and closely located near the anus, contamination while cleaning the anus after defecation is common source of transmission. E.coli first gains entry into the lower urinary tract. It can ascend upwards if not treated. If your immune system is strong, E.coli may not cause any harm and they may be flushed out through urine before they damage the lining of urethra or bladder. However, if there are large colonies of E.coli present in urine or if the urine is blocked because of stone or if there is delay in voidance due to nerve damage from spinal cord injury it can lead to urine infection. Another reason is presence of catheter in the urinary tract. Enlarged prostate in men significantly increases risk of E.coli infection. A sexually active woman is also at risk of E.coli infection in urine. E.coli in urinary infection can be life threatening if it passes into the bloodstream. It can lead to a serious condition called gram negative sepsis. Patients at risk are those having weak immunity as in case of HIV infection, cancer etc.


E.coli infection in urine needs treatment. Treatment depends on various factors such as the severity of the symptoms, age of patient, his immune status etc. The most effective treatment is use of broad spectrum antibiotics. Usually antibiotics target and kill the germs. If the symptoms are minor, patient may need oral antibiotics. However, in severe cases patient may need to be hospitalized for intravenous antibiotics therapy.

Natural remedies act as a complement therapy for antibiotics. Certain remedies such as cranberry juice, barley water, thyme oil, and birch tea are useful to flush off E.coli in urine.