When you have a urinary tract infection, you just know it’s time to seek treatment (UTI). “Pain and burning when you urinate are obvious indicators of a UTI, which are caused by persistent inflammatory processes in the lower urinary tract,” says Steven Lamm, MD, a researcher, physician, and renowned specialist on sexual health. UTIs happen when bacteria gets into your bladder: According to the Urology Care Foundation, roughly 12% of men and 60% of women will get a UTI at some point in their lives.
“Women are at more risk for UTIs than males because they have shorter urethras,” notes Lamm, “which reduces the distance bacteria must travel to reach the bladder.” “While many UTI symptoms will be visible, some symptoms may be more subtle.” Continue reading to learn more about them.
1- A frequent urge to urinate
It’s not always only the constant need to go to the bathroom. Lamm describes it as “feeling like you can’t completely empty your bladder” at times. There are two reasons for this. For starters, an inflamed bladder might make you feel compelled to urinate even when you aren’t. Second, you may be holding urine, which is another sign of a UTI caused by bladder weakness or urethral enlargement, according to The Cleveland Clinic.
In any case, it’s unsettling—and an indication that you should seek medical help. “If not addressed appropriately, UTIs can cause major health concerns,” says Lamm. “If you suspect you have a urinary tract infection, see your doctor straight soon.”
The way your urine smells is another subtle indicator of a UTI. “A strong or unusual odor in your urine could be a symptom of illness,” explains Lamm. “This odor is usually caused by bacteria in the urinary tract.”
So, what sort of odor should you be looking for? Urine that smells sweet, ammonia-like, or fishy could suggest an illness, but it’s also worth noting that these odor changes could signify something more serious.
You might not equate a urinary tract infection with a fever, chills, or pains, but those are some of the less-well-known symptoms of a UTI. A fever can be caused by any form of illness, and bladder inflammation can produce pain in the area, as well as in the mid-to-lower back, around the kidneys. According to the AARP website, if the infection causes your abdominal muscles to spasm, this might cause stomach pain.
Although these symptoms do not always indicate a UTI, they are worth discussing with your doctor. According to Lamm, an untreated UTI can spread to one or more kidneys: “This can harm kidney function permanently and raise the chance of renal failure.”
4-Bloody or cloudy urine
It’s helpful to know how your urine looks on a regular basis so you can spot any changes.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, “when you’re healthy and hydrated, your urine should be colorless to the color of pale straw and honey.” “Your urine becomes more concentrated and turns a darker yellow or amber hue when you don’t drink enough fluids.” However, according to Healthline, if your urine is hazy or milky, it could suggest an illness. Blood, which is formed by bacteria in the lining of the urinary tract, can cause irritation and inflammation in the bladder, resulting in urine that looks “red, pink, or brown like cola.”
5-No symptoms at all
The most modest indicator of a urinary tract infection is… nothing. This is known as asymptomatic bacteriuria, and it’s only diagnosed when bacteria is found in a urine test, according to the Mount Sinai Health System. Only in some circumstances, such as when the patient is pregnant or about to undergo surgery in a related location, do these forms of UTIs require therapy. Otherwise, the infection may be self-resolving.
Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if you require treatment for a UTI. “Antibiotics are usually the first line of defense against an existing UTI,” explains Lamm. “It’s critical to consider both a treatment strategy for the current infection and a preventive strategy to lower the risk of recurrence.”