Urinary Symptoms

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What are the signs of urinary problems?

Urinary symptoms are any changes in your urine from the normal, including changes in how often you urinate, how urination feels, how well you are able to control your urination, the color of your urine, and whether you experience pain when you urinate.

Urinary symptoms can vary widely in both severity and underlying cause. Mild symptoms, such as the need to urinate often, can be normal, especially after drinking a lot of water, for example. More severe symptoms, such as blood in your urine or severe pain when you urinate, can also occur, and the underlying cause must be determined to treat the problem successfully and minimize complications.

The most common causes of urinary symptoms are drinking too much or too little, urinary tract infections, passing of kidney stones, changes in urine color, and problems controlling urination. Urinary symptoms can happen to anyone. Rarely, urinary symptoms can be due to serious causes, such as cancers of the urinary tract.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for urinary symptoms accompanied by high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), decreased urine output, inability to urinate, severe abdominal pain, or persistent vomiting. Seek prompt medical care if you have serious urinary symptoms, such as blood in your urine, or if you think you may be passing a kidney stone.

If your urinary symptoms are persistent or cause you concern, seek prompt medical care.

What other symptoms might occur with urinary symptoms?

Urinary symptoms may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Changes in urination frequently occur with diseases or conditions of the kidneys or reproductive systems, for example.

Urinary symptoms that may occur along with urinary symptoms

Urinary symptoms may accompany other symptoms that affect the kidneys including:

  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Bloody or pink-colored urine (hematuria)
  • Bloody ejaculate
  • Changes in urine color
  • Cloudy urine
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Pain in the lower left flanks or back
  • Pain or burning with urination
  • Pus in the urine

Reproductive system symptoms that may occur along with urinary symptoms

Urinary symptoms may accompany other symptoms that affect the reproductive system including:

  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Vaginal infection
  • Vaginal itchiness

Other symptoms that may occur along with urinary symptoms

Urinary symptoms may accompany symptoms that are related to other body systems including:

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

In some cases, urinary symptoms may be a symptom of a life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medic al care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these life-threatening symptoms including:

  • Decreased urine output or inability to urinate
  • High fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Severe pain

What causes urinary symptoms?

Urinary symptoms have a wide variety of causes. They can vary from mild changes in the frequency or color of urine to serious infections that can spread to the kidneys and be life threatening.

Pelvic causes of urinary symptoms

Urinary symptoms may be caused by a wide variety of conditions located in the pelvis including:

Systemic causes of urinary symptoms

Urinary symptoms can also be caused by systemic diseases or conditions including:

  • Dehydration or overhydration
  • Diabetes insipidus (lack of antidiuretic hormone)
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Genetic conditions
  • Influenza (flu) or other whole body infections
  • Medication side effects or interactions
  • Pregnancy
  • Sepsis (life-threatening bacterial blood infection)
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Various types of cancer

Questions for diagnosing the cause of urinary symptoms

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your urinary symptoms including:

  • When did you first start to experience urinary symptoms?
  • What other symptoms have you noticed?
  • What medications are you currently taking?
  • When do you notice your urinary symptoms the most?
  • How are your urinary symptoms affecting your daily life?
  • Do you have a family history of cancer, diabetes, heart attack, or stroke?

What are the potential complications of urinary symptoms?

Urinary symptoms vary widely in severity and cause. The treatment and complications depend entirely on the underlying cause of your symptoms. Mild symptoms, such as urinating frequently after drinking lots of fluid, or even minor urinary tract infections in women or children, are often free of any complications. Serious infections of the urinary tract or symptoms due to conditions such as prostate cancer, however, can have life-threatening complications.

Because urinary symptoms can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Adverse effects of treatment
  • Impotence
  • Infertility
  • Kidney failure
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Perinatal transmission of infection to newborn
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Proctitis
  • Reiter syndrome
  • Spread of cancer
  • Spread of infection
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Jan 8
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.
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