Signs and Symptoms of a Bladder Infection

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  • Bladder infections are the most common form of urinary tract infections, or UTIs. Approximately 40 to 60% of women will experience at least one UTI (most likely, a bladder infection) during their lifetime, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Men and children can develop these infections as well. Knowing the signs and symptoms of a bladder infection will help you act if you or a loved one develop an uncomfortable UTI.

  • 1
    Pain or burning with urination
    constipated-woman-on-toilet

    Bladder infections are the most common form of urinary tract infections, or UTIs. Approximately 40 to 60% of women will experience at least one UTI (most likely, a bladder infection) during their lifetime, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Men and children can develop these infections as well. Knowing the signs and symptoms of a bladder infection will help you act if you or a loved one develop an uncomfortable UTI. 

  • 2
    Cloudy or bloody urine
    cloudy-looking urine in collection cup

    Healthy urine is clear and almost colorless. It’s also sterile, which means it is free of infectious germs. The bacteria that cause a bladder infection also change the appearance of the urine. If your urine is cloudier than usual, you might have a bladder infection. You may also see a few drops of blood or streaks of red in your urine. That’s because the infection irritates the interior wall of the bladder. (It’s also possible to have microscopic traces of blood in the urine.)

  • 3
    Urge to urinate
    man with hands holding his crotch (urogenital area) who needs to pee or who has pain with urination

    A cardinal symptom of bladder infections is a nearly constant urge to urinate. When you’re healthy, you can probably go hours between bathroom visits. When you have a UTI, it’s possible to feel like you have to go again almost immediately after urinating. Unfortunately, more frequent bathroom visits do not alleviate this sensation. With a UTI, you don’t feel the urge because the bladder is full; you feel the urge because you have an infection.

  • 4
    Foul-smelling urine
    Portrait of man with closed nose because of stinky smell

    Healthy urine has a distinctive smell. If your urine smells different than usual, you might have a bladder infection, especially if you have other signs and symptoms of an infection, including cloudy urine or painful and frequent urination. If your symptoms persist for longer than a day, it’s a good idea to seek medical care. A doctor, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner can confirm (or rule out) a bladder infection and point you toward appropriate treatment.

  • 5
    Fever
    Close up of woman's hand holding thermometer

    Not everyone who has a bladder infection develops a fever, but some people do. In fact, in some people, a fever may be one of the first signs of infection. Healthy adults typically notice the other symptoms of a UTI first, but elderly adults and young children may not be able to express the fact that they’re experiencing pain with urination, for instance. If an elderly person or child has a fever with no other obvious symptoms, seek medical attention.

  • 6
    Low back pain
    woman-in-bedroom-with-back-pain

    The kidneys—the organs that make urine—are located in the lower back, just above your waist on both the left and right. Pain in the lower back can be a symptom of a bladder infection that has spread to the kidneys. Anyone who develops low back pain and pain with urination should see a healthcare provider promptly. In the meantime, you can take over-the-counter pain medication to alleviate your discomfort. (Some people also find it helpful to apply a heating pad to the lower back.)

  • 7
    Abdominal pain or cramping
    young Caucasian man holding stomach with restroom sign in background

    The bladder is located in the pelvis, just below your stomach and intestines. Occasionally, people who have a bladder infection complain of pain and cramping in the lower abdominal region. In some people, this discomfort is subtle. In others, it’s sharp. Because other medical conditions can also cause abdominal pain and cramping, it’s a good idea to seek medical care if you experience pain or cramping that lasts more than a few hours.

  • 8
    Treatment of a bladder infection
    Taking-medicine

    Because bacteria cause most bladder infections, healthcare providers often prescribe antibiotics to treat them. The type of antibiotic will be determined by the type of bacteria causing the infection. Your provider will also consider your overall health and medical history when prescribing treatment.

    Most people feel better with 24 to 48 hours of beginning treatment. Do not stop taking your antibiotic. It’s important to finish your entire prescription. (Otherwise, you might contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant germs.) If the antibiotic is making you sick or you experience a negative reaction to it, call the pharmacist or the provider who prescribed it. There is most likely a different type of antibiotic that will work just as well.

    If you don’t feel better after two days of treatment, call your provider.

  • 9
    Home remedies for bladder infection
    Woman drinking water

    Drinking lots of fluids can ease the pain of urination and help flush bacteria out of the bladder. However, stay away from caffeinated beverages and alcohol, as both of these substances can irritate the bladder. Good choices include water, herbal tea, and juice.

    You may have heard that cranberry juice is good for UTIs. Some evidence suggests that regular intake of cranberry may prevent bladder infections, but cranberry cannot treat or cure a UTI. However, there’s no harm in drinking cranberry juice, so drink up if you enjoy it.

    Most bladder infections resolve in a week or less with antibiotics. Prompt treatment also helps prevent spread to one or both kidneys.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2019 Jun 28
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Bladder Diseases. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/bladderdiseases.html
  2. Definition and Fact of Bladder Infection (Urinary Tract Infection – UTI) in Adults. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/bladder-infection-uti-in-adults/definition-facts
  3. Urinary Tract Infection – Adults. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000521.htm
  4. Urinary Tract Infection in Children. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000505.htm
  5. Eating, Diet, & Nutrition for Bladder Infection (Urinary Tract Infection – UTI) in Adults. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/bladder-infection-uti-in-adults/eating-diet-nutrition
  6. Urinary Tract Infection in Women – Self-Care. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000391.htm