Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms

The urinary tract is comprised of the kidneys, bladder, urethra and ureters. A urinary tract infection is an infection that occurs in any of the organs that are situated in the urinary tract. Although this is a very broad definition, unfortunately it is the only definition we have. However, some doctors will name specific areas in your body if you have a UTI – for example, they will say ‘bladder infection’ or ‘kidney infection’ rather that urinary tract infection.

UTIs are very common, especially in women, and more women have them than men. UTIs can cause a range of symptoms and they can be caused by a number of things, some of which are listed below:

Urinary Tract Infection Causes

Around 80% of UTIs are caused by the E-coli strain of bacteria. A number of other parasites and bacteria may cause UTIs, such as Candida and Trichomonas, but these are uncommon.

There are a number of risk factors for urinary tract infections, some of which you can minimize yourself. The main risk factor for developing a UTI is having kidney stones. This is because the kidney stones, in effect, block the bacteria from being able to pass through the urethra with ease. This means that the bacteria build up which can result in an infection.

Many doctors suggest that women are far more likely than men to develop UTIs because their urethra is short and its exit (or entry for bacteria) is close to the anus and vagina, which can be sources of bacteria.

People who have a need for catheters have an increased risk of UTIs – in fact, it’s thought that up to 30% of catheter patients have urinary tract infections. People with chronic diseases, such as diabetes or those who are immunosuppressed with diseases such as HIV and cancer are also far more susceptible to UTIs.

Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms

Symptoms of a UTI are very varied and really depend on age, sex, location of infection and how severe the infection is. Some individuals will have no symptoms whatsoever whereas others will have many – knowing whether you will have symptoms or not is impossible.

Those who have no symptoms will typically pass the infection within five days. However, many patients will not pass the infection that easily and these individuals are likely to experience a number of symptoms, including:

  • The urge to urinate frequently, accompanied by pain or a burning sensation during urination
  • Cloudy urine
  • Reddish urine (blood)
  • Women may experience vaginal discharge accompanied by stomach pain, feelings of being bloated and feeling as though their bladder is full
  • Symptoms worsen in both men and women if accompanied by an STD
  • Men may experience rectal, testicular, penile and abdominal pain, particularly if they have an STD
  • Toddlers with UTIs may experience blood in their urine, fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, urgency and frequent need to urinate
  • Young infants and babies can develop UTIs but the symptoms are usually relatively unhelpful in diagnosing the problem as they are quite general and can include: hypothermia, poor feeding, jaundice, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Elderly individuals may experience little to no symptoms and it may only become apparent that there is an infection after the individual becomes confused or lethargic

Symptoms of urinary tract infections will change depending on the location of the infection. For example, infections of the urethra can cause pain and discomfort whilst urinating, whilst STD urinary tract infections can cause there to be pus draining from the urethra. Bladder infections can cause abdominal pain but not a lot of other symptoms, and ureter and kidney infections often cause flank pain and fever. Although these symptoms can happen with any infection, these specific areas of pain and symptoms can help the doctor diagnose exactly where your infection is located.