7 Symptoms of a Urinary Infection Everyone Should Know

Your urine looks cloudy

If your urine isn’t its usual clear straw-yellow or a lighter color, something could be amiss. Urine is comprised of waste and byproducts that have been cleared away from the foods, drinks, and medications you’ve consumed along with water, bacteria, environmental toxins, and other elements. A cloudy color could be one of the symptoms of a urinary infection. “Many things change urine color, including things we eat, medicines we take, and the concentration of the urine,” Dr. Hawes says. “Oftentimes with a UTI, the urine is cloudy with possible small whitish debris.”

Your urine has a strong, foul odor

Urine isn’t exactly supposed to smell like potpourri—and some medicines or foods like asparagus can be the culprit behind some strong, nasty scents, but if you’ve noticed a distinct change in your pee’s odor when there’s been no change in your diet or medication, that may be one of the symptoms of a urinary infection. While sweet-smelling urine could indicate uncontrolled diabetes and a spike in blood glucose levels, foul-smelling pee could indicate the presence of bacteria in the urinary tract or an infection in your bladder, Dr. Kielb says.

You have soreness in your lower abdomen, back, or sides

The type of pain you’re feeling could also indicate where the infection has taken place. Pain in the back and side could signal a kidney infection or pyelonephritis. Pressure in the pelvic area or lower abdomen is a symptom of a bladder infection also known as cystitis, Dr. Kielb explains.

Urine is a red or pinkish color

If you notice that your urine is tinted with a pinkish color, it could indicate a presence of blood, which can be one of the symptoms of a urinary infection or kidney stone. Note that this could also indicate a more serious (though rarer) health issue like bladder or kidney cancer, so contact your physician if you notice blood in your urine. “Blood in the urine in the presence of a UTIs not uncommon,” Dr. Hawes says. “Blood in the urine without an infection needs to be evaluated by a specialist. The specialist will rule out stones, blockages, and cancers.”

If you suspect UTI symptoms, see a doctor

As painful as UTIs can be, at least treatment is quick and effective. A physician will generally prescribe antibiotics that will clear a simple bacterial infection in a matter of days, Dr. Kielb says. But if the infection is left untreated, it could develop into a life-threatening blood infection called sepsis or the bacteria could spread to your kidneys, which causes other symptoms such as back pain, chills, fever, nausea, and vomiting.

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