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Selected samples of healthy people (804 males, 796 non-pregnant females and 400 pregnant women) were questioned about present and previous urinary symptoms. Mid-stream specimens of urine were cultured quantitatively. Symptoms in the males occurred more frequently in the presence of `significant bacteriuria', but the numbers were too small to allow statistical analysis. Among the non-pregnant females frequency or burning micturition was found more frequently in those who had significant bacteriuria than in those whose urinary bacterial counts were low; for nocturia this difference was statistically significant (p <0·001).
Of the pregnant women, comparison of those who had significant bacteriuria with those whose urine was normal showed that diurnal and nocturnal frequency, and loin pain, occurred more frequently in those with significant bacteriuria (for each of these symptoms p <0·0.1).
These results suggest that the recent onset of nocturia is the most reliable symptom of urinary tract infection. There remain, however, many people with urinary symptoms and with low urinary bacterial counts in whom other causes for the symptoms should be sought.