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A Doctor's View on Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Symptoms

Read the Comment by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

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 general, the most common symptoms of a urinary tract infection involve the process of urination. Read the entire Doctor's View

What are urinary tract infection symptoms and signs?

Lower urinary tract infection (infections of the bladder or urethra)

  • Bladder (cystitis, or bladder infection): The lining of the urethra and bladder becomes inflamed and irritated.
  • Dysuria: pain or burning during urination
  • Frequency: more frequent urination (or waking up at night to urinate, sometimes referred to as nocturia); often with only a small amount of urine
  • Urinary urgency: the sensation of having to urinate urgently
  • Cloudy, bad-smelling, or bloody urine
  • Lower abdominal pain or pelvic pressure or pain
  • Mild fever (less than 101 F), chills, and "just not feeling well" (malaise)
  • Urethra (urethritis): Burning with urination

Upper urinary tract infection (pyelonephritis, or kidney infection)

Symptoms develop rapidly and may or may not include the symptoms for a lower urinary tract infection.

  • Fairly high fever (higher than 101 F)
  • Shaking chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Flank pain: pain in the back or side, usually on only one side at about waist level

In newborns, infants, children, and elderly people, the classic symptoms of a urinary tract infection may not be present. Other symptoms may indicate a urinary tract infection.

  • Newborns: fever or hypothermia (low temperature), poor feeding, jaundice
  • Infants: vomiting, diarrhea, fever, poor feeding, not thriving
  • Children: irritability, eating poorly, unexplained fever that doesn't go away, loss of bowel control, loose bowels, change in urination pattern
  • Elderly people: fever or hypothermia, poor appetite, lethargy, change in mental status

Pregnant women are at increased risk for an UTI. Typically, pregnant women do not have unusual or unique symptoms. If a woman is pregnant, her urine should be checked during prenatal visits because an unrecognized infection can cause pregnancy health complications.

Although most people have symptoms with a urinary tract infection, some do not.

The symptoms of urinary tract infection can resemble those of sexually transmitted diseases.

Return to Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Phillips, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: March 23

I have lower back pain, mild pain in urination, and salty taste in my throat. I have been in pain for more than ten years. I have taken a lot of antibiotics for my urinary tract infection.

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Comment from: IpeeWithoutPain, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: January 24

I have been dealing with urinary tract infection (UTI) ever since I was in my early 20s. It didn't matter how clean or how much I made sure I urinated after sex, I always got some type of UTI symptoms that required me to get some type of UTI treatment. I can't remember the number of times that I have had to take antibiotics because it feels like it's a monthly procedure and most of the time, it was the only way I got UTI relief. I had to figure out a way to not have to go the emergency room so much. It was getting very expensive. So I looked into taking something that would at make sure that my body wasn't getting worse while I waited for an appointment that usually took about two weeks. I tried a product called Cystex that had cranberry pills that really helped me to get to those doctor appointments. It got rid of the burning and pain and made sure that wasn't in a worse condition when I finally got there. Please, in my experience, make sure you take something if you aren't going to the doctor right away.

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Comment from: NormaJ, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: September 14

I started feeling bad on Tuesday with pain under my breast and in the middle. I thought it might be gallbladder. I was not able to get to my doctor until Thursday as he is off on Wednesday and I did not want to go to the hospital. So I went on Thursday to see my doctor and I was told he was running three hours behind. I said no, I can't wait that long so I went to the hospital. They got me right in! They did a urine test and said I had a urinary tract infection and my urine was very dark. They put me on Cipro, and I finally slept last night but I still have no energy.

Was this comment helpful?Yes

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