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13 Silent Signs You Have a UTI

The symptoms of a urinary tract infection can range from subtle to very obvious.

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There’s nothing pleasant about suffering from a urinary tract infection (UTI)

Unfortunately UTIs are extremely common among women, mainly due to a woman’s anatomy. “In women, it’s common to have bladder infections because the urethra tends to be very short and close to the anal opening,” explains Erika Feuerstein, a family physician and educational director at the Bay Centre for Birth Control at the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. Meaning it’s easy for bacteria like E. coli to transfer back up into the bladder.

Think you might have one? Read on to find out the symptoms of a UTI.

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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 UTI. Everyone’s body is different, including how much urine you pass daily, explains Dr. Feuerstein. 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 or another vaginal irritation, so have it checked out to fully determine the cause. (Note: These are the myths gynecologists want you to know.)

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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 very common symptom of a UTI.

Your urine has a strong odour

Urine doesn’t exactly have a pleasant smell to begin with, but it can change when eating certain foods or medications. When you have a UTI that smell becomes very strong and unpleasant, due to bacteria in the urine. It’s a definite sign something is not right.

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You feel like you aren’t able to fully empty your bladder

You shouldn’t feel like you need to urinate after you’ve emptied your bladder. If you’re feeling that after you pee or there’s a dribble of urine after you think you’ve finished, it’s an indication you might be suffering from a UTI.

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, ranging from something as simple as having just eaten beets to kidney stones and certain cancers. Bottom line: It should be checked out.

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You have lower back pain

Lower back pain can accompany bladder infections. It can also be a sign of a kidney infection, which is when a UTI spreads to the kidneys. This symptom isn’t usually experienced in isolation, so pay attention if you’re also feeling unwell or have other signs of a UTI. (Also, check out these other medical reasons for lower back pain.)

You have sudden urges to urinate

The sudden urge to pee is one of the hallmark signs of a UTI. It’s caused from involuntary contractions of the bladder muscle, also known as urge incontinence. Basically, you might feel fine one minute and the next you can’t hold your bladder.

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You feel tired or unwell

When your body is trying to fight off an infection it’s quite normal to not feel like your usual self. You may be more tired than usual, achy or weak. If you are experiencing other UTI symptoms as well, chances are you might have one.

You feel pain or pressure in your lower abdomen

Another area that can be sensitive when you are suffering with a UTI is your pelvic area or lower abdomen. You may also feel cramping, dull or sharp pains, or pressure around the bladder.

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Your temperature is high

It’s not normal to have a high temperature when you’re suffering from a bladder infection. But if you notice your temperature is over 38 degress Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) it can indicate the infection has moved to the kidneys or prostate.

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 UTI. It can be a sign you have an upper UTI that’s moved up into your kidneys and should be checked out.

“If you end up with a kidney infection you’ll have high back pain, too,” explains Dr. Feuerstein. “It’s called the costovertebral angle, which is at the base of the ribs.”

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You’re experiencing shaking and chills

Another symptom that can accompany an upper UTI is shaking and chills. This occurs as a response to your body fighting off a bacterial or viral infection, and could be an indication you have a UTI that has spread.

Next, learn about the pain symptoms that require immediate attention.