Symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection

What is a Urinary Tract? 

The role of the urinary tract is to make and stores urine. Your urinary tract is made up of your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Urine is one of the waste products of your body. 

What is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?

A UTI is when bacteria gets into your urine and travels up to your bladder. UTIs cause more than 8.1 million visits to health care providers each year. About 60% of women and 12% of men will have at least one UTI during their lifetime.

Most UTIs are caused by bacteria, but some are caused by fungi and in rare cases by viruses. UTIs are among the most common infections in humans.

People of any age or sex can get UTIs. But about four times as many women get UTIs as men. You’re also at higher risk if you have diabetes, need a tube to drain your bladder, or have a spinal cord injury.

If you think you have a UTI it is important to see your doctor.

causes of a UTI

Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms

Symptoms of a UTI depend on what part of the urinary tract is infected. These are the most common.

  • burning with urination
  • increased frequency of urination without passing much urine
  • increased urgency of urination
  • cloudy urine
  • bloody urine
  • urine that looks like cola or tea
  • urine that has a strong odor
  • pelvic pain in women
  • rectal pain in men
  • vomiting
  • pain and tenderness in the upper back and sides
  • chills
  • fever
  • nausea

Types of Urinary Tract Infections

An infection can happen in different parts of your urinary tract. Each type has a different name and symptoms, based on where it is.


Cystitis (Bladder): You might feel like you need to pee a lot, or it might hurt when you pee. You might also have lower belly pain and cloudy or bloody urine.


Pyelonephritis (Kidneys): This can cause fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, and pain in your upper back or side.


Urethritis (Urethra): This can cause a discharge and burning when you pee.

Causes of Urinary Tract Infections

UTIs are a key reason why doctors tell women to wipe from front to back after using the bathroom. Bacteria from the large intestine, such as E. coli, can sometimes get out of your anus and into your urethra. From there, they can travel up to your bladder and, if the infection isn’t treated, can continue on to infect your kidneys. Women have shorter urethras than men, which makes it easier for bacteria to get to their bladders. Having sex can introduce bacteria into your urinary tract, too.

Some women are more likely to get UTIs because of their genes. The shape of their urinary tracts makes others more likely to be infected. Women with diabetes may be at higher risk because their weakened immune systems make them less able to fight off infections. Other conditions that can boost your risk include hormone changes, multiple sclerosis, and anything that affects urine flow, such as kidney stones, a stroke, and a spinal cord injury.

what is a UTI