Have a Urinary Tract Infection? Signs and Symptoms Overview
A urinary tract infection can occur in the bladder, kidneys, urethra or ureters. The symptoms of the infection depend on its location in the body, with each area causing different problems and health risks. Keep in mind that not all UTIs display symptoms; if you notice one or more signs, see a doctor for a diagnosis.
Changes in urine are often the first signs of a urinary tract infection. Cloudy urine or urine that has a sudden strong smell can indicate a problem. UTIs can also cause blood to be released in the urine, creating a pink, red or dark brown color. Urinary indicators can be difficult to spot, particularly if you are not familiar with your urine's standard color range.
Sudden burning during urination is a common UTI symptom. Unusual sensations and behaviors, such as frequent urination, strong urges to urinate or the passing of very small amounts, are also red flags. If you notice that you are waking from sleep to urinate or urinating immediately after drinking, consider seeing a doctor. Keep an eye out for unusual or unexpected urges, particularly in combination with other UTI symptoms.
UTIs can cause pain in different parts of the body. Intense pain during urination or sharp pains in the stomach are two common signs. Other potential symptoms include lower back pain, flank pain or side pain. Men should look out for an unexpected pain at the back of the scrotum or a sharp pain during ejaculation. On rare occasions, a UTI can cause blood to be released with semen. If you notice extreme pressure in your pelvis, it can indicate that the UTI is located in the bladder.
On its own, a UTI is not life-threatening, but an infection that spreads to the kidneys can cause more serious problems. If, in addition to UTI symptoms, you have a fever, chills, extreme fatigue or flushed skin, see a doctor immediately. Other potential signs that a UTI has moved into the kidneys include confusion, abdominal cramping, night sweats or pain in the groin.
Additional Risk Factors
Several risk factors can increase your propensity for UTIs; in some cases, they can cause greater health risk. See a doctor if you are elderly, if you have kidney stones or if you have had surgery on your urinary tract. Medical issues such as injuries to the spinal cord, diabetes or cancer can increase the complications of a UTI. Pregnant women with UTIs may need to be hospitalized to reduce the risk to the mother and the unborn child.
Many symptoms of a UTI are subtle, causing the infection to go unnoticed. If you fall into a high-risk category or you display more than one symptom, it is important to see a doctor.