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What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

Symptoms of a urinary tract infection include:
  • Pain or stinging when you pass urine
  • Frequent or intense urges to urinate, even when you have little urine to pass
  • Pressure in your lower belly or back
  • Urine that smells bad or looks milky, cloudy, or reddish in color
  • Fever or chills.
Not everyone with a urinary tract infection will develop symptoms. Children who have urinary tract infections are more likely to have a fever and no other symptoms, which often results in a misdiagnosis.
(Click Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms for more information about symptoms of a urinary tract infection.)

Making a Diagnosis

In order to diagnose a patient with a urinary tract infection, doctors will perform a physical exam and ask the following questions:
  • How much fluid do you drink?
  • Do you feel pain or a burning sensation when you urinate?
  • Do you have difficulty urinating?
  • (For women) What type of birth control do you use?
Other procedures that will help your doctor make a diagnosis include:
  • A urine test
  • An x-ray or an ultrasound of the patient's kidneys
  • An exam that looks into the patient's bladder with an instrument called a cystoscope.
Urine Tests
A urine test is needed to check for bacteria and infection-fighting cells. Your doctor may also order a urine culture, which is a test that allows bacteria from the urine to grow in a lab dish. This culture allows doctors to prescribe the correct medicine that is needed for the specific type of bacteria.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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