Anyone who has experienced a UTI will never forget it. Symptoms can range from extremely uncomfortable to painful and annoying, if not unbearable at times — both when you urinate and even when you don’t! The symptoms of UTIs vary depending on the location of the infections.
Infections of the bladder (cystitis) or urethra (tube that carries urine out of the body) are known as Lower UTIs. These can cause the following:
- A burning or painful sensation when passing urine
- Sudden needs to urinate urgently
- Passing urine more frequently than usual
- Feeling the urge to urinate, but being unable to or only passing a few drops
- Unpleasant smelling urine
- Urine that is cloudy, bloody, pink or dark or foul-smelling
- Back pain
- General feelings of malaise (feeling unwell, achy and tired)
- Pelvic pain, in women — especially in the centre of the pelvis and around the area of the pubic bone
- Rectal pain, in men
Infections of the kidneys or ureters (tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder) are known as Upper UTIs. These can cause the above symptoms and the following:
- Fever and rigors (shivering)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pain in your sides or back
- Confusion (especially so in the elderly)
- Agitation or restlessness
Although upper tract UTIs are rarer than lower tract UTIs, they’re usually more severe and require immediate medical attention. An upper UTI is nothing to ignore. If you think you have one, see your healthcare provider immediately.
When to get medical advice:
It’s a good idea to see your healthcare practitioner if you think you might have a UTI, particularly if:
- You have symptoms of an upper UTI (see above)
- Symptoms are severe or getting worse
- Symptoms haven’t started to improve after a few days
- You get UTIs frequently
Your healthcare practitioner can rule out other possible causes of your symptoms by testing a sample of your urine and can prescribe antibiotics if you do have an infection. Antibiotics are usually recommended because untreated UTIs can potentially cause serious problems if they’re allowed to spread.
UTIs during pregnancy
Women who are pregnant and have symptoms of a UTI should see their doctor right away. UTIs during pregnancy can cause high blood pressure and premature delivery. UTIs during pregnancy are also more likely to spread to the kidneys.
Medical Complications: While milder UTIs will often go away on their own without treatment, you shouldn’t avoid seeing a doctor if the symptoms persist for more than a couple of days. Learn more here about why and when you should see your doctor.
UTI Prevention: Anyone who has ever had a urinary tract infection (UTI) knows full well how frustrating and uncomfortable they can be. Getting ahead of UTIs, with these UTI prevention tips, can help you prevent UTIs. Learn more here.
Antibiotic Resistance: The growing concern over the risk of antibiotic resistance is the primary reasons most healthcare practitioners are now turning towards non-antibiotic approaches to prevent recurrent UTIs. Click here to more about using antibiotics wisely!
UTIs vs Vaginal Infections: Although UTIs and vaginal infections are quite different, it’s possible to have both at the same time. The good news is that both conditions are treatable and preventable! Click here here to more about differences.