Urine infection is a common cause of aching lower abdominal pain in women. It is much less common in men. Along with pain, you may feel sick and sweaty. There may be a sharp stinging when you pass urine and there may be blood in the urine.
A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) develops when part of the urinary tract becomes infected, usually by bacteria. Bacteria can enter the urinary system through the urethra (tube leading from the bladder to the outside) or, more rarely, through the bloodstream.
There are two types of UTI:
- Lower UTI is an infection of the lower part of the urinary tract, which includes the bladder and the urethra. An infection of the bladder is called cystitis, and an infection of the urethra is known as urethritis.
- Upper UTI is an infection of the upper part of the urinary tract, which includes the kidneys and the ureters. Upper UTIs are potentially more serious than lower UTIs because there is a risk of kidney damage.
The symptoms of a lower urinary tract infection (UTI) include:
- cloudy urine
- a need to urinate more frequently, either during the day, or night, or both
- pain or discomfort when passing urine
- an urgent need to urinate (holding in your urine becomes more difficult)
- unusually unpleasant smelling urine
- blood in your urine (haematuria)
- abdominal pain
- a feeling of tenderness around your pelvis
- back pain
- a general sense of feeling unwell
The symptoms of an upper UTI include:
- a high temperature (fever) of 38ºC or above
- uncontrollable shivering
You may also experience pain in your side, back or groin. The pain can range from moderate to severe, and it is often worse when you are urinating. In addition, you may experience the symptoms of a lower UTI because the infection can spread from your kidneys to your lower urinary tract.
When to seek medical advice
- If you suspect that you have an upper UTI.
- If you think that you have a lower UTI and your symptoms do not improve or suddenly get worse.
- If you have a condition that increases the chances of the infection causing more serious complications. Such as Diabetes, HIV or have any condition / on any medication that reduces your immune system.
Antibiotics is the usual treatment. Symptoms usually improve within a day or so after starting treatment. Without antibiotics, cystitis (lower UTI) - (particularly mild cases) may go away on its own in a few days.
Paracetamol or ibuprofen ease pain or discomfort.
It is important to drink plenty of liquids when you have a urinary infection.