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What are the symptoms of UTIs & UI?

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UTIs in Women

Not every woman with a UTI has symptoms, but most people notice at least one or more of the following signs:1

  • Pain or stinging while urinating
  • A frequent or strong urge to urinate, while often producing only a small amount of urine
  • Milky, cloudy, dark, bloody, or foul-smelling urine
  • Lower stomach or back pain

Pregnant women are more likely to get UTIs because of changes in the position of the uterus during pregnancy. In addition, pregnant women are more likely to have a UTI become a kidney infection, so they should see a health care provider as soon as possible after they notice symptoms. A woman's obstetrician may or may not regularly test for urinary tract infections during prenatal visits.2

Certain groups may have slightly different UTI symptoms:

  • Women with catheters (pronounced KATH-i-ters), tubes inserted into the urethra to drain urine, may experience a fever with a UTI, which could indicate that infection has reached the kidney. These women are at higher risk for kidney infections, so they should see their health care provider as soon as possible is they have a fever1
  • Older women with UTIs are more likely to feel tired, shaky, and weak and have muscle aches and abdominal pain.3 In some older women, a UTI can quickly lead to a serious whole-body infection called sepsis. Sometimes the progression to sepsis can occur without a fever, so it is important that older women with UTI receive timely initial and followup care.

Some women may have UTI-like symptoms when they don't have a UTI. These types of symptoms may occur because of an irritant, such as a soap or a food or drink. In these cases, once the irritant is removed or goes away, the symptoms will go away too.

For information about UTIs in children, visit http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/KUDiseases/pubs/utichildren/index.aspx.

UI in Women

The following are some signs of UI4:

  • Leaking urine because of sudden pressure on the lower stomach from physical activity such as laughing, coughing, running, or lifting
  • Sudden, strong, and frequent urges to urinate
  • Unexpected and uncontrollable leaking of urine

For information about UI in men, visit http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/KUDiseases/pubs/uimen/index.aspx.

For information about UI in children, visit http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/KUDiseases/pubs/uichildren/index.aspx.


  1. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Clearinghouse. (2011). Urinary tract infections in adults. Retrieved August 15, 2012, from http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/KUDiseases/pubs/utiadult/index.aspxi [top]
  2. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2011). Routine Tests in Pregnancy. Retrieved August 15, 2012, from http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq133.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20120815T1115408658 External Web Site Policy (PDF - 218 KB) [top]
  3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Clearinghouse. (2011). Urinary tract infections in adults. Retrieved May 15, 2012, from http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/KUDiseases/pubs/utiadult/index.aspxi [top]
  4. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2010). Urinary incontinence in women. Retrieved August 15, 2012, from http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/uiwomen/ [top]

Last Updated Date: 11/30/2012
Last Reviewed Date: 04/12/2013
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