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Understanding UTI Complications

Suffering from a urinary tract infection is a common occurrence, especially for women.

Consider this:

  • Urinary tract infections or UTIs are among the most common bacterial infections in humans, affecting millions of people every year, including 11 million people in the United States annually.1
  • Nearly one in every two women will experience at least one UTI in her lifetime.1
  • Nearly one in three women will have received antibiotic treatment for a UTI before age 24.1
  • In the age group of 16–35, women are 35 times more likely to be affected by a UTI than men.2

So if you’re suffering from a UTI, you’re not alone. Usually you’ll have some annoying symptoms, but there are times that a UTI gets worse. UTI complications can be a sign that the infection has moved, or that the condition has worsened.

So here’s a look at UTIs and understanding UTI complications.

What Is a UTI?

A UTI is when any part of the urinary tract becomes infected, including the kidney, ureter, bladder and urethra. Most infections commonly involve the lower urinary tract, which is the bladder and the urethra.3

The typical symptoms of a UTI include:4

  • A strong, persistent urge to urinate
  • A burning sensation when peeing
  • Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
  • Urine that appears cloudy, red, bright pink or cola-colored
  • Strong-smelling pee

There are times that a UTI can cause pelvic pain, too, but if it spreads upward, it could be a sign of a complication (stay tuned as we will discuss that later).

A UTI is usually treated easily with antibiotics, but there are times that it can lead to a more serious infection, like a kidney infection.5 That’s why it’s important to finish the complete dose of antibiotics provided to you. A UTI will typically last about a week.

Can A UTI Cause Bleeding?

Yes. One of the symptoms of a bladder infection is blood in the urine. You may have red or pink urine.4

Any symptom of a UTI is a reason to see a doctor to have it treated. 

Can A UTI Cause Back Pain?

Yes, there are times that a UTI can cause back pain, and this can be a dangerous complication that requires immediate medical attention.

If the infection spreads to the kidneys, this form of UTI known as pyelonephritis is the most dangerous type of UTI. This kidney infection can cause back or side (flank) pain, as well as fever with chills, and  nausea with or without vomiting.3

Can a UTI cause fever?

In short, yes. Once again, the most dangerous form of UTI is an infection involving the kidneys. If you have a fever, it’s worth seeing a doctor immediately. The UTI known as pyelonephritis can also cause back or side (flank) pain, and nausea with or without vomiting.3

What Are Other UTI Complications?

Another complication of UTIs is when they recur. A recurrent urinary tract infection is defined when a woman has two or more in a six-month period, or three or more within the preceding year.6

Doctors will also define a complicated UTI as one in which the patient’s condition may result in a more complex treatment: if you’re pregnant, for instance, or you are immunocompromised.3  Another definition for a complicated UTI is when they recur despite adequate treatment.7

Get Treatment

If you have symptoms of a UTI, it’s important to see a doctor to receive treatment before there are complications. It’s not worth waiting and risking an acute or complicated UTI that can lead to potentially fatal conditions such as sepsis.3 Complicated UTI infections also carry a higher risk that treatment will fail.7

Don’t be alarmed. UTIs are a common condition that can easily be treated when caught early. Use our Physician Finder to find a doctor near you and have your UTI treated and cleared up quickly.

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