What are the symptoms of a urine infection?
- Infection in the bladder (cystitis) usually causes pain when you pass urine. You pass urine more frequently. You may also have pain in your lower tummy (abdomen). Your urine may become cloudy, bloody or offensive-smelling. You may have a high temperature (fever).
- Infection in the kidneys may cause you to feel generally unwell. There may be a pain in your back. This is usually around the side of the back (the loin), where each kidney is located. You may have a high fever. You may feel sick, or be sick (vomit).
In some older people the only symptoms of the urine infection may be a recent onset of confusion or just feeling generally unwell. The confusion is caused by a combination of factors such as having a fever and having a lack of fluid in the body (dehydration). The confusion should pass when the infection has been treated.
How common are urine infections?
Urine infections are much more common in women. This is because in women the urethra - the tube from the bladder that passes out urine - is shorter. Also it opens nearer the back passage (anus) than in men. Half of all women will have a urine infection that needs treating in their lifetime.
Urine infections are less common in men. They are very uncommon in young and middle-aged men. They are more common in older men. They are more likely to occur in men who have to use a catheter. A catheter is a thin, flexible, hollow tube used to drain urine.
Urine infections tend to become more common as you get older.
Further reading and references
Management of suspected bacterial urinary tract infection in adults; Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network - SIGN (updated July 2012)
Guidelines on Urological Infections; European Association of Urology (2015)
Urinary tract infection (lower) - women; NICE CKS, July 2015 (UK access only)
Urinary tract infection (lower) - men; NICE CKS, October 2014 (UK access only)
Rowe TA, Juthani-Mehta M; Urinary tract infection in older adults. Aging health. 2013 Oct9(5). doi: 10.2217/ahe.13.38.
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