8 symptoms of urinary tract infections in women

An infection which is found in any part of the urinary system, say your kidneys, ureters, bladder and  urethra,  is  called  a  Urinary  Tract  Infection (UTI). It is very important to know what to look for and what you must do about it, in order to keep yourself comfortable and prevent a UTI from turning into a serious infection

Uterus (1)

The second most common type of infection, an UTI can cause considerable anxiety and morbidity amongst women. Just treating the infection is not enough; Prophylaxis or preventive action should be advocated. Incidence of infection in females increases directly with sexual activity and child-bearing. 25-30% of women between the age group of 20-40 years will get UTIs.

Following are the predisposing factors:

Delaying urination and unhygienic personal care practices

  • Sexual activity
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Urinary stones
  • Postmenopausal women with prolapsed uterus, atrophic vaginitis etc.

It is very important to know what to look for and what you must do about it, in order to keep yourself comfortable and prevent a UTI from turning into a serious infection.

Below are the eight symptoms which you need to watch out for:

Paining, burning, or stinging when urinating: If there is pain or burning when you urinate, which is experienced often, then that is the first sign of a UTI or bacteria in the Urethra or Bladder. But, it does not mean you have full-blown UTI, unless it is happening repeatedly over a period of time.

If you are getting pain or burning only once and not repetitively for the rest of the day and you don’t show any other signs or symptoms, then your body has already flushed out the bacteria and you don’t have to worry about it

You need to go right now: If you have to urinate badly, especially when you just went, then you probably have an UTI. These bacteria can irritate the Urethra and the lining of the Bladder, which can make you feel like you need to urinate constantly

Cloudy, bloody, or discoloured urine: If your urine is cloudy, red or brown in colour, that’s a sign of infection. But before you panic, you must take a note of what you ate in the past 24 hours. Foods like beetroots etc. can also make your pee look Pink, Orange or Red in colour but you won’t have any pain and the colour will pass quickly.

Peeing doesn’t bring relief: A UTI can make you feel like you have a full bladder, but there is hardly any urine when you go to the toilet. Little to no relief even after repeated urination, is a tell-tale sign one must look out for

Smelly urine: If there is a strong and pungent smell to your urine, it should be brought to your doctor’s notice, as this is a common symptom of UTI

Extreme fatigue: Presence of infection will lead  to  immunity  response  in  the  body  that  leads  to  fatigue  and exhaustion

Pressure, cramping, or pain around your bladder/pelvis: If you get pain in the region of your urinary bladder, associated with other urinary symptoms it is always worrisome and must be consulted in time

Fever: Fever is paired with the other symptoms of UTI; a fever is often a sign that the infection is more serious and can spread into the Kidneys.  If you’re having fever which is over 101°F or are experiencing chills and night sweats, seek medical help immediately.

Preventive methods are as follows:

Self-hygiene: Always wipe from the front to the back after using the bathroom. Do not try to reach from behind because germs from the rectum can be transferred to the hand and tissue.

After bowel movements, clean the area around the anus gently, wiping from front to back. Try to empty your bladder every 4 hours during the day, even if the need or urge to void is absent.

Take special precautions after sexual activity; such activity may also increase risk because it can introduce bacteria into the bladder area. The bladder should be emptied after intercourse

Drink more water: Start with 1 extra glass with each meal. If the urine appears any darker than a very pale yellow, this means not enough liquid is being ingested; increase the fluid intake.

The author is an associate consultant from the Department of Urology at S.L. Raheja Hospital in Mahim, Mumbai.