UTI’s: 5 Symptoms You Shouldn't Ignore

May 05, 2024
Woman in maroon sweater with lower back pain

For over a decade I’ve specialized in working with patients who suffer from chronic urinary tract infections (also just called UTIs). Often, by the time patients get to me, they’ve already been suffering for a long time, some even for years.

I wish I had a time machine that I could jump into to warn them about some of the common symptoms that they probably experienced early on but may not have realized can be serious markers of UTIs.

This is important because recognizing the symptoms of a UTI is crucial so you can receive prompt treatment and prevent complications. These are five key symptoms that indicate you might have a urinary tract infection:

You feel a strong, frequent need to urinate

One hallmark symptom of a UTI is the sudden and intense urge to urinate – even when your bladder isn't full. You may find yourself running to the bathroom more frequently than usual, only to barely pee.

This persistent urge can disrupt your daily routine and lead to discomfort, and it’s one that should not be ignored. In addition to being inconvenient, ignoring this system can lead to complications such as kidney infections or bloodstream infections.

You experience pain or discomfort when peeing

Pain, burning, or discomfort while you pee is another key sign of a UTI. This sensation, also known as “dysuria,” happens when the infection irritates the lining of the urinary tract.

This is not an easy symptom to ignore as the pain, which can be mild, can also range to severe, making urination a painful experience. Don’t assume that this will stop on its own.

You have cloudy or bloody urine

When you’re healthy and hydrated, your urine will typically be clear to pale yellow in color.

However, if you notice that your urine appears cloudy or contains traces of blood (haematuria), that can be an indicator of a urinary tract infection.

The presence of blood can signal inflammation or irritation in the urinary tract, while cloudy urine suggests the presence of pus or bacteria.

There’s an unpleasant odour when you pee

Of course, urine is not ever going to smell great. But a change in odour can be a warning sign of a UTI. Bacteria in the urinary tract can generate substances that add to the odour.

While you may notice that your pee has a slightly stronger smell in the morning or after consuming certain foods – and that can be completely normal – an unusually foul or unpleasant smell could indicate infection.

Back Pain and General Malaise

In some cases, a UTI may cause additional symptoms such as back pain or you may just be feeling a general sense of unwellness. You may predominantly feel the pain in a localized way, such as in the lower back or abdomen, and the intensity can vary.

You might also experience fatigue, fever, or chills, especially if the infection has spread to the kidneys. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please make sure to seek appropriate medical attention.

When it comes to UTIs, don't ignore symptoms

Urinary tract infections can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms that shouldn't be ignored. If you experience any of the signs mentioned above, make sure to seek medical attention, and don’t wait.

Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent the infection from worsening and reduce the risk of complications. Remember to stay hydrated, practice good hygiene, and seek medical advice if you suspect you have a UTI. Your health and well-being are worth prioritizing.

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