What's the difference between a UTI and a bladder infection?

June 09, 2017 Kaitlyn Matousek

We know they're both a P.I.T.A.—but are there actual differences between urinary tract infections and bladder infections? 

what's the difference between a UTI and bladder infection?

“Oh nooooooo.” Every time you pee, there’s an intense burning and the feeling that you haven't gotten everything out, even though you've been sitting on the toilet long after you have finished peeing. Not to mention your bladder feels like it has been reduced to the size of a pea, and you have to run off the bathroom what seems like every five minutes.

Is it a UTI? Bladder Infection? Honestly, what’s the difference?    

It’s very common for people to use the term UTI and bladder infection interchangeably. However they can be different, and it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of both to best care for yourself.

UTI stands for urinary tract infection. Your urinary tract is composed of your bladder, ureters, urethra, and kidneys. You have a UTI when any of these body parts become infected by bacteria. On the other hand, a bladder infection is when specifically your bladder becomes infected. A bladder infection is a lower UTI infection. This means that all bladder infections are UTI’s but not all UTI’s are all bladder infections.

Why is knowing the difference important?

Well, where most bladder infections are much more of an annoyance than a life threatening illness, it’s important to know if you are dealing with a bladder infection or a kidney infection, (an upper UTI) which have much more serious health consequences.

Kidneys filter toxins from your blood which is essential for you to live. Kidney infections are no joke because they can cause permanent damage to your kidneys. People who already have problems with their kidneys are also at risk of kidney failure.Key symptoms of a kidney infection are the same as a bladder infection PLUS lower back pain, fever, and nausea. Bladder infections left untreated can turn into kidney infections.

When should you see your doctor?

It is important to see your doctor right away if you think you have a UTI. A bladder infection usually isn't an emergency,  but pregnant women, the elderly, people with diabetes, kidney problems, or a weakened immune system are at a greater risk of negative complications. Burning during urination is the first sign of a UTI, it can also be a symptom of a vaginal yeast infection or certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). That is why it’s important to see a doctor and identify exactly what you are dealing with.

Any tips on getting through a UTI? 

UTI’s are the absolute worst. Just remember when you are sitting on the toilet thinking ‘Why me?’ that you are not alone. Here are some helpful tips to remember to help you get through your UTI.

  • LET IT OUT, Empty your bladder as soon as you feel the need to go, even if that was literally 5 minutes ago. Every time you pee, you release the bad bacteria that’s infecting you.
  • Stay especially hydrated by drinking plenty of water
  • Showers over baths.
  • Stay away from scented feminine hygiene products because they might increase irritation.
  • Keep your genital area comfy and dry by wearing cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes.
  • Use heat to sooth the pain away. Try a hot water bottle or heating pad on your bladder to help with that spastic feeling.  
  • Don't have sex when you have a UTI.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Keep your doctor informed if symptoms get worse.

Want more info? Check out WebMD's explanation of the difference between a UTI and a bladder infection for more information. 

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