What Are The Signs and Symptoms of UTIs?
Many people may tell you “If you have a UTI, you’re going to know you have a UTI.” In many cases, this is true. That intense urge to use the bathroom combined with the painful burn is pretty hard to miss.
But the truth is a urinary tract infection can look and feel differently from person to person. And UTIs can even be confused with similar conditions like a yeast infection. It is important to know exactly what to look for.
I’m here to list all of the signs and symptoms of a urinary tract infection – as well as give you a heads up on some sneaky ways a UTI can present itself. We will finish up with some clues to let you differentiate a UTI from other infections.
Main Signs and Symptoms of A UTI
Here are the symptoms you may be experiencing when you have a UTI. Know that not your infection may present every single one of these symptoms, but you will mostly likely experience a few of them:
- An intense and frequent urge to urinate, though very little urine may actually come out each time
- A painful burning feeling when you urinate
- Dark or cloudy urine
- Pink or red urine (sign of blood)
- Strange or foul-smelling urine
- Pain or pressure in your back
- Pain or pressure in your lower abdomen
- Pressure in your pelvic region
- Some discharge
Is Your UTI In Your Kidneys?
Most of the time, your bladder is the part of the urinary tract that gets infected (and therefore causes the symptoms we’ve already talked about). But sometimes the urinary tract infection can continue up into your kidneys (AKA Acute Pyelonephritis).
When this happens, your signs and symptoms will typically become much worse and also include:
- High fever (often over 101 F)
- Upper back pain
- Pain in your side (flank)
- Extreme fatigue
On the other hand, some patients may not exhibit many symptoms other than side pain (near your kidneys).
While some may choose to try to treat their bladder infection at home, your doctor should always check out a kidney infection. Here is a video explaining not only the basics, but also the seriousness of kidney infections:
UTI Symptoms In Children & The Elderly
The signs and symptoms of a UTI are pretty commonplace with two exceptions: they young and the old.
Newborns, infants, children, and the elderly may not exhibit all the common symptoms that a teen or adult will normally experience. Here are some of the signs for each age group that mean you may want to head to the doctor for UTI testing:
Signs in a newborn:
- Fever (high temperature) or hypothermia (low temperature)
- Poor feeding
Signs in an infant:
- Poor feeding
- Not thriving
Signs in children:
- Eating poorly
- Unexplained fever
- Loss of bowel control
- Loose bowels
- Change in urination habits or patterns
Signs in elderly people:
- Fever or hypothermia
- Poor appetite
- Change in mental status
Also keep in mind that anybody with a catheter may experience a UTI differently. For these individuals, a fever may be the only symptom – making a clear UTI diagnosis by a physician so important.
A UTI, A Yeast Infection, Or Bacterial Vaginosis?
Once a woman starts feeling pain or discomfort in her vaginal area or seeing discharge, there are typically three main causes: a urinary tract infection, a yeast infection, or bacterial vaginosis. But how do you know which one you have?
First of all, it is important to understand that yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis are each a problem with the vagina and a UTI is a problem for the urinary tract.
The reason women can confuse them is simple: close proximity. Your urethra is just barely above your vagina.
A UTI will have more urination symptoms (always feeling like you need to use the bathroom, but not being able to go very much once you get there, a “deeper” burn when you urinate, etc.)
A yeast infection will have more vaginal-related symptoms such as:
- Itching around the vagina (can often feel severe)
- Vaginal discharge
- Irritated and inflamed skin (often red or bright pink) around the vagina’s opening
- A burning feeling during urination that has more to do with acidic urine coming into contact with inflamed vaginal skin (not deep burning from the bladder)
Bacterial vaginosis will normally cause a large amount of vaginal discharge which can be a “grayish white” or yellow color, as well as a bad or “fishy” odor. You typically won’t have much pain.
Considering these conditions can feel and look similar – and considering that some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can have similar symptoms too – it is a good idea to confirm your diagnosis with a doctor if you are not positive about your symptoms.
Do You Have A UTI?
If you have gone through all these symptoms and feel confident that you are suffering from a UTI, you have a wide range of treatment options available to you:
- The typical treatment is a round of antibiotics from your doctor
- You can also try supplements like D-mannose and Hibiscus extract
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever and use a heating pad on your lower abdomen to help you get past the worst couple of days
- Make sure to drink plenty of water to flush out the bacteria in the urinary tract
However, if you have gone through these symptoms and still are not positive what you are suffering from, your doctor can help you.
Not only will the doctor assess your symptoms, he or she will also most likely give you a urine analysis to check for blood and bacteria in your urine. It is possible that they may use some sort of digital imaging like an ultrasound or CT to confirm the diagnosis.