Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Symptoms, Diagnosis, Medication

Reviewed on 7/27/2016

Urinary tract infection (UTI) symptoms

A woman lying in bed in pain.

Urinary tract infection (UTI) symptoms can be frightening and a cause for concern. Some people who have a UTI don't have any symptoms. Sometimes a doctor may diagnose a UTI based on the description of the patient's symptoms and ruling out other potential causes. The following slides describe common symptoms of a UTI.

Painful urination

A female feeling burning pain in her bladder.

Bacteria that grow in the bladder (cystitis) or urethra can cause pain and make it difficult to urinate. People who have UTIs commonly report feeling a burning sensation upon urination.

Frequent urination

A woman needing to go to the restroom.

Urinating more frequently than usual or feeling the need to urinate more frequently are common symptoms of a UTI. Sometimes the urge to urinate is so strong it awakens people at night. An inability to hold urine in the bladder can also be a UTI symptom.

Urine color and clarity

Cloudy urine in specimen container

A UTI may be associated with a change in the appearance and odor of urine. Urine may be cloudy due to pus or tinged red due to blood. It's not uncommon for urine to be foul-smelling with a UTI.

Pain and pressure

Woman and man feeling discomfort.

Men and women with UTIs may experience pain in certain areas. In men affected by UTIs, pain or a feeling of pressure may occur in the rectum. In women with UTIs, the pubic bone area is potentially painful.

Hesitancy to urinate

A woman impatiently needing to use the restroom.

An inability to completely empty the bladder can be a symptom of a UTI. Difficulty urinating or a strong urge to urinate accompanied by just a small release of urine are also potential symptoms of a UTI.

Generalized urinary tract infection (UTI) symptoms

Mother comforting ill daughter and checking to see if she has a fever.

A UTI may produce symptoms outside of the urinary tract. Weakness and tiredness may be UTI symptoms. If a UTI is located in the bladder or urethra, fever may not be present. If the infection has reached the blood or kidneys, it's more likely fever will occur.

Urinary tract infection (UTI) in infants

An infant crying.

Infant boys and girls can suffer from UTIs, but they often experience symptoms different than those in older children and adults. Fever, irritability, poor feeding, and loose stools may occur in babies who have UTIs. Since these symptoms may occur with many other conditions, it can be difficult to diagnose UTIs in infants.

Urinary tract infection (UTI) in the elderly

Elderly woman lying in a nursing home bed.

Elderly individuals may have UTI symptoms that are more difficult to recognize and which complicate diagnosis. Those who live in a health care setting and rely on urinary catheters may be more prone to UTIs.

How is a urinary tract infection diagnosed?

Person holding pH strip in front of a urine specimen along with a comparison chart.

Urinalysis is a urine test that can be used to detect infection (white blood cells) or bleeding (red blood cells). The sample is cultured to determine the type of bacteria or other pathogen that is causing the infection. A culture can also help identify the best antibiotic to treat the infection. In the case of recurrent UTIs, additional testing may be ordered by the doctor. Imaging tests and/or a cystoscopy may be necessary. A cystoscope is an instrument that can be advanced into the urethra and bladder to visualize the areas.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Symptoms, Diagnosis, Medication

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