15 Silent Signs You Have a UTI
The symptoms of a urinary tract infection can range from subtle to very obvious.
Symptoms of a urinary tract infection
There’s nothing pleasant about suffering from a urinary tract infection — just ask anyone who’s experienced one. Unfortunately they’re extremely common among women, mainly due to a woman’s anatomy. “In women, it’s common to have bladder infections because their urethra tends to be very short,” explains Dr. Erika Feuerstein, a family physician and educational director at the Bay Centre for Birth Control at the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. “And it’s close to the anal opening.” Meaning it’s easy for bacteria like E. coli to transfer back up into the bladder. Think you might have one? Some of the signs can be subtle. Read on to find out what they are.
You constantly feel like you have to urinate
Running to the bathroom more than usual? Assuming it’s not that you’re just drinking more liquids, the constant need to urinate could be a symptom of a urinary tract infection. Everyone’s body is different, including how much urine you pass daily, explains Dr. Feuerstein, so it’s important to consider what’s more frequent than normal for you.
There’s a burning sensation when you urinate
“Burning urination is never OK,” advises Dr. Feuerstein. When you have a UTI and acidic urine passes through an inflamed urethra it can cause a burning sensation. However, burning urination doesn’t always indicate a UTI. It could also be due to a sexually transmitted infection (such as gonorrhea and chlamydia) or another vaginal irritation, so have it checked out to fully determine the cause.
Your urine looks cloudy
Normal urine should be clear and have a light yellow colour. If that’s not the case you may want to keep a close eye. “Cloudy urine can be caused by a variety of conditions including vaginal discharge, dehydration and sexually transmitted diseases,” explains Dr. Feuerstein. It’s also a common symptom of a urinary tract infection.
Your urine has a strong-smelling odour
Urine doesn’t exactly have a pleasant smell to begin with and can change when eating certain foods (think asparagus) or taking some medications. When you have a UTI that smell becomes very strong and unpleasant, due to bacteria in the urine. A definite sign something’s not right.
There’s blood in your urine
Pink, red or cola-coloured urine can seem scary, but it’s usually not a sign of anything life-threatening. It’s often present when you are suffering from a UTI, but there are other reasons it can happen too, ranging from something as simple as having just eaten beets (called beeturia) to kidney stones and certain cancers. Bottom line, it should be checked out.
You have sudden urges to urinate
One of the hallmark signs of a UTI, the sudden urge to pee is caused from involuntary contractions of the bladder muscle (also known as urge incontinence). You might feel fine one minute and the next you can’t hold your bladder.
You have nausea or vomiting
“You can have nausea or vomiting from severe pain,” says Dr. Feuerstein, although it’s not a common symptom of a urinary tract infection. It can be a sign you have an upper urinary tract infection that’s moved up into your kidneys and should be checked out.
You have upper back and side pain
A classic sign of an upper urinary tract infection, if you experience upper back or side pain it’s quite possible your UTI has moved to your kidneys. “If you end up with a kidney infection you’ll have high back pain,” explains Dr. Feuerstein. “It’s called the costovertebral angle, which is at the base of the ribs.”