For many, urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are just as uncomfortable to talk about as they feel. A 2022 study by BMC Women's Health showed women, in particular, face an uphill battle when dealing with the conditions. However, UTIs can be easily treated and patients can even get treatment prescribed online. Exhibited in that study and the patients we treat often comes a pronounced feeling of dread at UTIs. However, most of those same patients gain a sense of power when learning about the condition and how easy urinary tract infection treatments can be.
Urinary tract infections are a common condition that can cause frequent and/or painful bathroom trips. While this can be worrisome, with treatment, both symptoms and relief can be provided.
UTI symptoms: Urinary tract infection symptoms in men vs. women
More often than not, urinary tract infections are more commonly associated with women. According to MedicalNewsToday, UTI cases in men contribute to 3% worldwide. That contrasts heavily when compared to women, who run a 50% to 60% chance of getting a UTI in their lifetime according to Therapeutic Advances in Urology Vol 11.
In both cases, a person that has already contracted a urinary tract infection runs a varied risk of getting a second or recurring case. Whereas the probability for men is just slightly higher, a study by the Sultan Qaboos University medical journal puts women at a significant chance.
The difference in cases is primarily due to the difference in urethra length, with men’s being longer and women’s being much shorter. It's at this part of the body where most infections gain entry by starting out as microbes and developing when the body fails to flush them out. That’s not to say that’s the only part of the body a urinary tract infection can develop, with any part of the urinary tract (kidneys, ureters, bladder, urethra) being susceptible.
As outlined by Healthline, there’s not much difference when it comes to comparing symptoms based on sex aside from women more commonly feeling pelvic pain and men getting rectal pain. However, there is a difference between the symptoms associated with upper urinary tract (kidneys and ureters) and lower urinary (bladder and urethra) tract infections.
Lower UTI Symptoms
Upper UTI Symptoms
It should be noted that there is a difference in urinary tract infection symptoms for certain vulnerable groups. More specifically, seniors and children are more likely to wet themselves and be more irritable than usual when infected with a UTI. Parents and caretakers will typically spot the first signs of infection, especially when describing the situation to a doctor.
What are the first signs of a urinary tract infection?
The first signs of a urinary tract infection can vary from person to person, and some people may not experience any symptoms at all. However, the most common symptoms of a UTI include:
Additionally, some people, such as young children, elderly individuals, and individuals with weakened immune systems, may experience atypical or more severe symptoms of a UTI. It's always best to seek medical attention if you suspect you have a UTI or are experiencing any unusual symptoms.
Can you have a UTI and not feel it?
Yes, it is possible to have a urinary tract infection and not feel any symptoms. This condition is known as an asymptomatic UTI. Asymptomatic UTIs are more common in certain groups of people, such as pregnant women, older adults, and individuals with weakened immune systems.
Although an asymptomatic UTI may not cause any discomfort or noticeable symptoms, it can still lead to complications if left untreated. For instance, an untreated UTI may cause kidney disease, particularly in those with preexisting kidney problems. As a result, it's important to undergo routine urine testing to detect and treat asymptomatic UTIs before they cause complications.
How do you know if your UTI is getting worse?
It's important to monitor your urinary tract infection symptoms to ensure that the infection is not getting worse. Here are some signs to pay attention to:
If you experience any of these symptoms or notice that your symptoms are getting worse, it's essential to seek medical attention promptly. Your healthcare provider may recommend further testing, such as a urine culture, to identify the type of bacteria causing the infection and determine the most appropriate treatment.
UTI types: What is the most common UTI type?
Cystitis: A condition defined by bladder inflammation and the most common of the three. Cystitis occurs when bacteria or other pathogens enter the bladder through the urethra, causing inflammation and infection in the bladder lining.
Pyelonephritis: Used interchangeably with kidney infection, pyelonephritis is a type of urinary tract infection that affects the kidneys. It occurs when bacteria or other pathogens enter the kidneys through the bloodstream or from the lower urinary tract, causing inflammation and infection in the renal tissue.
Urethritis: Urethritis is a condition in which the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body, becomes inflamed or infected. Urethritis can be caused by a variety of factors, including bacterial or viral infections, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and irritants such as soaps or perfumes.
According to Nature Reviews Microbiology, urinary tract infections are also defined by whether they’re uncomplicated or complicated. An uncomplicated UTI affects the lower or upper urinary tract system while a complicated UTI can spread to other parts of the body. By contrast, a complicated UTI can be defined as it spreading to other parts of the body and running the risk of compromising the patient. Many instances of complicated UTIs are due to catheters, which either allow foreign germs to enter the body or allow germs from other parts of the body to spread into the urinary tract system.
How do I know what type of UTI I have?
Without testing you won't know the exact type of UTI you have, but based on symptoms and medical history a doctor will know how to address treatment. For quick relief for bothersome or painful symptoms, CallonDoc can provide same-day prescriptions so you can start treatment right away to clear the infection.
What is considered a bad UTI?
A "bad" UTI typically refers to a urinary tract infection that has progressed to a more severe or complicated stage. This can occur when the infection spreads beyond the bladder and into other parts of the urinary tract, such as the ureters and kidneys. Whereas the ureters carry urine down to the bladder from the kidneys. Bacteria can travel up those same tubes from an infected bladder to compromise the kidneys.
Symptoms of a bad UTI may include high fever, chills, nausea and vomiting, severe back pain, and pain or discomfort in the lower abdomen or pelvic area. In some cases, a bad UTI can lead to kidney damage, sepsis, or other serious complications.
What can be mistaken for a urinary tract infection?
Several conditions can mimic the symptoms of a urinary tract infection and may be mistaken for it. Here are some examples:
Vaginal infections: In women, vaginal infections such as yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis can cause symptoms similar to UTIs, including itching, burning, and abnormal discharge. These symptoms can sometimes be mistaken for a UTI.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): Certain STIs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, can cause symptoms similar to those of a UTI, including pain or burning during urination and abnormal discharge. These symptoms can sometimes be mistaken for a UTI.
Interstitial cystitis: Interstitial cystitis is a chronic condition that causes pain and discomfort in the bladder and pelvic area, as well as frequent urination. These symptoms can be similar to those of a UTI, but the condition is not caused by a bacterial infection.
Kidney stones: Kidney stones can cause pain and discomfort in the lower abdomen and back, as well as frequent urination and pain during urination. These symptoms can be similar to those of a UTI, but the condition is caused by the presence of small, hard mineral deposits in the kidneys.
Prostatitis: Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate gland in men that can cause pain or discomfort during urination, as well as pain in the lower back or pelvic area. These symptoms can be similar to those of a UTI, but the condition is not caused by a bacterial infection.
UTI causes: What is the main cause of UTI?
The main cause of a UTI is a bacterial infection, with the most common type of bacteria being Escherichia coli (E. coli). While it is normally found in the intestinal tract, E. coli can just as easily end up at the urethra for women through sexual contact, improper wiping, and lack of hygiene.
More common in people with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or diabetes, UTIs originating from fungi are less common in normal patients due to their immune systems. With the most common being Candida albicans, the fungal variants can be more difficult to deal with because their genetic structure is closer to humans than bacteria.
Externally, people that do not practice proper hygiene run a greater risk of catching a UTI. Reasons behind recurring urinary tract infections often include:
Additionally, men with an enlarged prostate and pregnant women run a heightened risk of getting a urinary tract infection.
Why do pregnant women get UTIs?
Can you get a UTI from your fingers?
Yes, it is possible to get a UTI from your or someone else’s fingers. Fingers that have come into contact with bacteria from the anus or genitals can transfer the bacteria to the urethra, especially if proper hygiene is not followed. This can occur during sexual activity or during activities such as wiping after using the bathroom.
UTI treatment: How does a doctor diagnose a UTI?
Often, doctors don’t need much information to diagnose a urinary tract infection. However, when tests are needed, they often include:
What is the process of getting rid of UTI?
What makes a UTI worse?
UTI prevention: How can UTIs be prevented?
What should I take daily to prevent UTIs?
While these may provide benefits and help prevent UTIs, they should not be used as a replacement for medical treatment if you have an active infection.
Why use CallonDoc when you get a UTI?
If you're experiencing UTI symptoms and need same-day relief, CallonDoc can review and provide a treatment plan online from the comfort of your home. Learn more about UTIs and our treatment here.