Urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria that infect the urinary tract and bladder. The disease is also known as UTI or cystitis. UTI can develop into a more serious infection that spreads to the kidneys and the renal pelvis. This is called pyelonephritis.
Both cystitis and pyelonephritis show symptoms that are noticeable and easily recognised.
Symptoms of cystitis
UTI or bladder infection rarely cause any severe symptoms related to the infection. The symptoms are generally mild and do not affect your general state of health in any serious way in most cases. The disease usually heals by itself. However, there are always exceptions, and UTI can cause issues and pain.
The symptoms can appear in different ways depending on age.
Symptoms in adults:
- An increased urge to urinate
- Burning or pain when urinating
- You often experience a full bladder and the need to empty it
- Lower abdominal pain, often around the bladder or above the pubic bone
- Mild nausea
- The urine can be turbid and miscoloured. It can also smell bad
- Many get the feeling that they cannot empty the bladder completely
- Blood in the urine.
- Feeling cold and slightly unwell, however fevers are uncommon
The symptoms can occur either individually or several at a time. If you experience two or more symptoms simultaneously, and if you experience no other problems in the genital area, it is likely that you have attracted an infection in the urinary tract. When the signs of an infection are unclear or weak, a urine test can provide a more accurate diagnosis. If you are in doubt about your symptoms you can always consult your health centre regarding further examination.
When children get a urinary tract infection, symptoms are not as clear as they are in adults. Children often show diffuse symptoms such as tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea and irritability.
Elderly people can have symptoms that differ from those in adults. The symptoms can be very weak and diffuse and therefore difficult to diagnose. Examples of diffuse symptoms include general weakness, dizziness, increased incontinence or sudden incontinence.
Cystitis causing mild symptoms is especially common in elderly people, diabetics or people with a weakened immune system. Since urinary tract infections can be difficult to diagnose, they can go by unnoticed. If the disease is left untreated, it can develop into pyelonephritis, which is a much more serious infection. Pyelonephritis can cause acute symptoms and a strong feeling of illness.
Symptoms of pyelonephritis
Signs of pyelonephritis can be very similar to symptoms of bladder infections. The most significant difference is that symptoms of pyelonephritis are more acute than those of a bladder infection. Furthermore, pyelonephritis is associated with a strong general feeling of illness.
- You become very sick and tired
- Fever and nausea
- Low back pain and pain on the side of the abdomen
- Other symptoms are similar to those of a bladder infection but are generally more acute
A diagnosis of pyelonephritis can be made based on perceived or observed symptoms and on urinalysis if necessary.