Feels Like a UTI But Isn't
Urinary tract infections are extremely common. However, UTI-like symptoms can also arise for other reasons. Understanding what types of medical issues can feel like a UTI helps you get the right treatment.
What Are Some UTI Causes and Symptoms?
Most often, a UTI develops due to bacteria traveling through the urethra to the urinary tract or bladder, then multiplying and causing an infection. In up to 90% of UTIs, E. coli is the bacterial organism in question. Because a UTI is a bacterial infection, the most common treatment is a course of antibiotics.
What does a UTI feel like? Some common symptoms include:
• Pelvic or abdominal pain when trying to urinate
• Burning sensation when urinating
• Increased frequency of needing to urinate
• Continuing to feel a strong need to urinate even immediately after using the bathroom'
• Unusual smell or dark color in urine
However, one can have UTI symptoms but not UTI. When the underlying condition is different, taking antibiotics may not be effective. If you are experiencing UTI symptoms but no bacteria in urine shows up on testing, you may have one of the other conditions that result in some of the same symptoms.
What Can Mimic a Urinary Tract Infection?
If it's not a UTI, what else could it be? Here are some common conditions people often mistake for UTIs due to similar symptoms:
• Bladder prolapse. This condition can occur due to a gradual weakening of the front bladder wall. This most often occurs with advancing age, in particular after menopause; however, some may experience it at a younger age as well. Prolapse can cause symptoms such as frequent urination, leakage and discomfort in the bluffer area. This is not a problem that will go away on its own or with over-the-counter treatments. Seeing a doctor can give you the right diagnosis and treatment plan.
• Yeast infection. This condition also stems from bacterial infection. However, in this case, the culprit is candida albicans which is a fungal yeast. The main symptoms of a yeast infection include itching and burning in the vaginal area, as opposed to the internal pain typically stemming from a UTI. However, a yeast infection can also cause pain and other difficulties when urinating.
• Ovarian cysts. Ovarian cysts are typically benign sacs containing fluid that can form on or inside the ovaries and can cause discomfort and pain in the pelvic area. Larger cysts can also press on the bladder, leading to a more frequent need to urinate. Most often, cysts go away on their own. However, you may want to address a particularly persistent issue with your doctor.
• Interstitial cystitis. This condition is also known as painful bluffer syndrome. Its symptoms are very close to those of a UTI, including pain in the pelvic and abdominal areas, and more frequent urination. However, it has a variety of causes that do not include bacterial infection. These include issues with the ladder lining, habitually holding in urine or inflammation of the pelvic nerves.
• Sexually transmitted infections. STIs can produce pain and discomfort similar to that experienced by UTI sufferers. An STI will also typically include some additional symptoms such as blisters, painful intercourse, fever, nausea or rashes.
Once you have a UTI, you will need to see a doctor and take antibiotics. Taking preventative steps can help you avoid getting this infection in the first place. Staying hydrated and going to the bathroom is a good step. So is taking probiotics and vitamins. High-quality supplements on a regular basis can help prevent UTIs. Learn more about useful UTI prevention products by contacting us.