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Urinary tract infection - Symptoms of urinary tract infections

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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The symptoms of an infection in your upper urinary tract (kidney and ureters) are different from symptoms of infection in your lower urinary tract (bladder and urethra).

However, in some cases you may notice the symptons of both as one can spread to the other.  

Symptoms of a lower UTI include:

  • cloudy urine
  • needing to urinate more often during the day or night, or both
  • pain or discomfort when urinating
  • an urgent need to go to the toilet (holding in your urine becomes more difficult)
  • urine that smells unusually unpleasant
  • blood in your urine (haematuria)
  • pain in your abdomen (tummy)
  • a feeling of tenderness around your pelvis
  • back pain
  • a general sense of feeling unwell

Symptoms of an upper UTI include: 

  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • uncontrollable shivering
  • nausea (feeling sick)
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea

With an upper UTI you may also notice pain in your side, back or groin. The pain can range from moderate to severe, and it is often worse when you're urinating.

When to seek medical advice

There is a higher risk of complications with an upper UTI, so see your GP if you notice any of the symptoms.

Although many lower UTIs are mild and get better within a few days, speak to your GP if your symptoms are causing you a lot of pain and discomfort or if they last more than five days.

Increased risk of complications

There are some risk factors that increase your risk of more serious complications from a UTI. These include:

  • kidney disease
  • type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes
  • a weakened immune system caused by treatment such as chemotherapy or a health condition such as HIV
  • a foreign body in your urinary tract, such as a kidney stone or catheter (a thin tube inserted by a health professional into the urethra to drain the bladder)
  • being pregnant
  • being over 65 years old

See your GP if any of these apply to you and you notice symptoms of a UTI.

Find out more about UTI risk factors.

Medical Review: April 07, 2012
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