Urinary Tract Infections

Do you have a UTI? Common UTI symptoms to look out for

We dive deep into how UTIs happen, the worrisome symptoms to watch for and how to get a UTI prescription online.
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Key Points:

  1. The most common symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI) include pain or burning while peeing, pelvic pain, cloudy urine, bloody urine, strong smelling urine, frequent urination and a strong urge to urinate that doesn’t go away.
  2. Most UTIs involve the lower part of the urinary system. If the infection spreads to the kidneys, symptoms can be more severe.
  3. Most UTIs can be cleared up with antibiotics. If you have symptoms of a UTI, it’s important to talk to a healthcare provider right away.

The most common urinary tract infection (UTI) symptoms are hard to miss. There’s pain with urination (dysuria). It may burn while you pee. Or you may feel like you have to go all the time.

Keep reading to learn more about common and severe UTI symptoms. Plus, how Dr. B can help you access UTI treatments online and clear those symptoms fast.

What is a UTI?

Bacteria flushes out of the urinary system through urination. If there is too much bacteria or a person can’t pee the germs out quickly enough, an infection can grow and spread. A UTI happens when bacteria travels from genital area (usually the vagina or anus) and enters the urethra—the opening where urine comes out of the body. From there, it can spread up to the bladder, ureters or kidneys.

UTIs are more common in people assigned female at birth (AFAB) and those with female anatomy. That’s because their urethra is short and located close to the vagina and anus, making it easier for bacteria to get inside the body.

What are the main UTI symptoms?

UTI symptoms can vary depending on the type of UTI you have. Some infections don’t cause any symptoms. Others may present symptoms that feel like another condition (like a yeast infection).

But even mild infections can feel very uncomfortable. UTIs irritate the lining of the urethra and bladder. This triggers your body to urinate more often (to flush the bacteria out of your system).

Common UTI symptoms can include:

  • Pain with urination (dysuria)
  • A burning sensation while you pee
  • A strong urge to pee that doesn’t go away even after using the bathroom
  • Peeing only small amounts frequently
  • Cloudy urine
  • Smelly urine or a strong pee smell
  • Dark urine that may look pink, brown or red-tinged urine (a sign of blood in the urine)
  • Pelvic pain

UTI symptoms tend to be worse at night when the bladder fills up and creates more pressure against the irritated bladder lining. Symptoms can also feel worse at night because there is less to distract you from the pain.

When are UTI symptoms dangerous?

If the infection stays in the urethra, symptoms tend to be mild. UTIs can become more complicated as the infection moves up the urinary system.

Bladder infections (also called cystitis) may include lower abdominal pain, pelvic pain or pressure, frequent and painful urination or blood in the urine. When infections spread to the ureters and kidneys, symptoms can be severe.

Symptoms of a kidney infection include:

  • High fever
  • Side or back pain
  • Shaking or chills
  • Nausea or vomiting

When does a UTI get worse?

Most UTIs occur in the lower part of the urinary system, like the urethra or bladder. These infections are not usually not serious if treated with a course of antibiotics. So you should get antibiotics for a UTI when you first experience symptoms.

UTIs can be more concerning for older adults and those with dementia. For this group, symptoms can include confusion, restlessness, aggression and hallucinations. Any behavior changes (no matter your age) should be brought to a healthcare provider.

UTIs can also cause more serious problems if they spread to the upper part of the urinary system, like the kidneys.

Conditions that make kidney infections more likely include:

  • Pregnancy
  • An enlarged prostate
  • Kidney stones
  • Structural impediments
  • Diabetes or other conditions that affect the immune system
  • Using urinary catheters—especially for an extended period of time

When should I call my healthcare provider?

Most UTIs clear quickly with antibiotics. If left untreated, they can damage the kidneys. So even if you have mild symptoms, don’t wait to get UTI medicine.

People who are pregnant and those with conditions that affect their immune system should seek treatment quickly. UTIs can be dangerous for such people because of a decreased ability to fight off the bacteria.

If you are already being treated with UTI pills and develop symptoms like nausea, vomiting, fever or chills, call your provider right away. You should also talk to your provider if you notice any signs of blood in your urine, including pink, red or brown-colored urine.

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Balogun, S. A., et al. (2013). Delirium, a symptom of UTI in the elderly: fact or fable? A systematic review. Canadian Geriatrics Journal.

Cunningham C. (2011). Systemic inflammation and delirium: important co-factors in the progression of dementia. Biochemical Society transactions.

Imam, T. H. (2022). Bladder infection. Merck Manual Commercial Version.

Imam, T. H. (2022). Kidney infection. Merck Manual Commercial Version.

Imam, T. H. (2022). Overview of urinary tract infections. Merck Manual Commercial Version.

Imam, T. H. (2022). Urethritis. Merck Manual Commercial Version.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Urinary tract infections (UTIs).

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