Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Symptoms

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For someone who is experiencing a urinary tract infection (UTI) for the first time (or if it has been a while since they have had one), the symptoms can be frightening. On the other hand, some people with a urinary tract infection may not experience any symptoms at all. In certain cases, your doctor may be sure of the diagnosis simply by listening to your description of the symptoms and onset of the condition, while other cases pose diagnostic challenges.

In general, the most common symptoms of a urinary tract infection involve the process of urination:

  • Pain or a burning feeling during urination
  • A feeling of urgency, or feeling the need to urinate frequently
  • An altered appearance of the urine, either bloody (red) or cloudy (containing pus)
  • Pain or pressure in the rectum (men) or in the area of the pubic bone (women)
  • Passing only a tiny amount of urine even when the urge to urinate is strong

Other, more generalized, symptoms can also accompany a urinary tract infection:

Infants with a urinary tract infection are less likely than adults or older children to have the characteristic symptoms. Urinary tract infections can develop in both male and female infants. Affected babies may have a fever and no other symptoms. Infants who have a urinary tract infection may:

  • be irritable, have a fever, and
  • have loose stools and/or feeding problems.

Because of the nonspecific nature of many of these symptoms, urinary tract infections can be more difficult to diagnose in infants.

The symptoms can also appear nonspecific and the diagnosis may be more difficult in the elderly or those in healthcare settings who require long-term catheter use.

Urine testing (urinalysis) will establish the diagnosis of a urinary tract infection. The urine is examined for the presence of red blood cells that signify bleeding into the urine and for white blood cells that signify infection. A culture of the urine is also taken to identify the organism responsible for the infection and to determine the effectiveness of different antibiotics against the offending organism. If recurrent infections develop, further types of testing including imaging studies and/or visual examination of the bladder (cystoscopy) may be recommended.


Last Editorial Review: 8/22/2012