A urinary tract infection can affect any component of the urinary system, which encompasses the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. These infections tend to be more common in women than in men; nearly half of all women will experience at least one urinary tract infection during their lifetime.
Female urethrae are shorter than male, so harmful bacteria have a shorter distance to travel if it enters the body from the bowels. In uncomplicated cases, it is simple to treat a urinary tract infection with prescribed medication. Symptoms can help a doctor determine the severity of the infection.
The most common symptom of a urinary tract infection is a burning sensation during urination. Urine passes through the ureters on its road to expulsion. E. coli reside in the bowels but can be transferred from the anal area to the outer ureter during sex or wiping after a bowel movement. This is why women should always wipe front to back. After the bacteria reaches the ureters, they become infected and inflamed. When urine passes through, irritation can cause pain.
People with urinary tract infections tend to need to go to the bathroom more frequently, usually because the infection renders the bladder incapable of emptying entirely. Frequent urination may be due to a blockage or inflammation infection or another medical condition. The strong urge to urinate more is a hallmark of urinary tract disease. In many cases, small amounts of urine pass through the body. The frequent urination is made more uncomfortable due to the burning sensation.
A distinctive symptom associated with urinary tract infections is a pain in the lower back that can feel like muscular aches. As such, the individual may try over-the-counter pain relievers, but in the case of a UTI, these are unlikely to provide relief. Pain in the flanks may be a sign that infection has spread to the kidney, and prescription medications for the infection should ease this symptom. Rest, drinking plenty of fluids, and restricting movement may help reduce discomfort in the interim.
A urinary tract infection can change the properties of an infected person's urine. Firstly, with frequent urination, the quantity of urine may be reduced. Also, the urine may be cloudy for the duration of the infection. In rare cases, the fluid may contain visible pus or be darker in color due to the presence of blood. Blood in the urine could be a sign of a serious infection or other diseases affecting the urinary tract. Severe infection can cause complications including kidney damage.
In some cases, people complain of pain in the pelvis, including the genital area, even when not urinating. Such pain is typically a dull, persistent ache that is hard to ignore. Once treatment begins, this pain should ebb. If there's no respite within two days of treatment, further investigation by a medical professional is advisable. Discomfort is a typical response to many issues. But an ongoing pain that doesn't have an identifiable source is an indicator something is wrong.
When the upper urinary tract is infected, individuals tend to develop fever and chills. These signs and symptoms, being somewhat generic, often stand in the way of an accurate diagnosis. If a person is experiencing fever and chills as well as any other symptoms of a UTI, it is important they provide their doctor with a full list. Clear communication aids in proper diagnosis and the development of an effective treatment plan.
When a urinary tract infection begins to impact the function of the kidneys, the individual can experience nausea, often regardless of food consumption. In some cases, nausea may lead to vomiting. Slowly eating bland foods may prevent nausea from getting worse but is unlikely to stop the nauseous feeling.
Though some people with UTIs develop nausea that leads to vomiting, if this symptom persists despite treatment, it may be a cause for concern. An infection that is more severe than initially assumed could require different medication for full recovery.
In many cases, urinary tract infections cause discharge that differs from normal urethral secretions in appearance, texture, and odor. Both men and women may have this abnormal discharge. The discharge is unlikely to persist post-recovery, but if it does, a further investigation is necessary. People who experience abnormal discharge should get tested to rule out other conditions such as yeast infections or sexually transmitted diseases.
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