In this post: Bladder Infections can be very irritating. This post will answer the question “How do I know if I have a bladder infection” as well as share the reasons why you might get one as well as the treatment.
There are special kinds of pain that make you want to crawl out of your body and find a new place to live. A raging bladder infection or UTI is one of those. It is just such an uncomfortable spot and nothing makes it better. Let’s talk UTI’s today.
UTI stands for Urinary Tract Infection — usually a bladder infection, but can also be a kidney infection (or both).
Hi, I’m Hilary — many people know me as The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind this website Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 I also worked for a pediatrician (where we saw a lot of little girls with UTI’s). Between that and OB, it’s a LOT of UTI’s — so it’s a specialty of mine. That’s why you know this is info you can trust. You can see all my family health posts here.
Go ahead and listen to my podcast on bladder leakage if you’re wondering what’s normal:
How do I know if I have a bladder infection?
UTI’s come for a variety of reasons and the majority have nothing to do with things you’re doing.
Things can make you get a UTI:
Bubble baths — they can increase your chance of getting a UTI, usually in younger children especially little girls (which is why mine has never experienced a bubble bath)
Being pregnant — pregnant women have increased chances of getting a UTI, and if you have one you do need to get it treated right away as it can cause your uterus to contract. It’s one of the things I talk about in my Free Beginning Prenatal Class.
If you’re sexually active. Virgin girls tend to frequently get UTI’s on their Honeymoon (because they have gone their whole life celibate and then have large amounts of sexual intercourse in a small time period). Peeing after sexual activity helps, as the flow of urine helps clear that area out of any bacteria introduced. Also, certain types of in-vagina birth control (condoms, diaphragms and some spermicides) are risk factors that make you more likely to get a UTI.
Not emptying your bladder frequently. I have a lot of pride in my ability to hold my pee for long periods of time, but it’s not smart. It can make your bladder less likely to fully empty (another cause of UTI’s) and that urine sitting in there for long time periods has a larger chance for bacterial growth.
Not drinking enough water. This is HUGE. Getting plenty of fluids just helps flush out your bladder and kidneys. Super important!
Being a woman — ladies have an increased risk of getting UTI’s much more frequently. Especially before the prostate ends up being an issue. The woman’s anatomy just has a shorter urethra, so it’s a shorter distance for bacteria to head on up to your bladder vs a man’s urethra (which is longer)
Being a man with prostate issues. Mainly because the bladder doesn’t empty fully with each urination. Sometimes you can empty your bladder more if you bear down (like you’re having a BM) at the end of your urination.
Diabetes: Since you’re likely to have some sugar in your urine it’s a festival for a bacterial infection to grow and thrive. #bacteriakegger
Catheters: Having urinary catheters with your epidural at delivery, or for any other reason — you’re more likely to get a UTI.
Urinary Anatomy — since the urinary system is just a bunch of holding areas, filtering areas and tubes, it’s easy for some part of the urinary tract to get out of wack — twist and be problematic.
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Signs of a UTI
- Burning when you pee — right as soon as the urine is done coming out you feel a burning sensation (this can be mild, especially at first, and then get worse). Usually felt in your bladder area. You may also frequently feel achy in that area.
- Frequency — that means you feel like you need to pee ALL the time (hard to detect in pregnancy, but all of the sudden needing to pee a whole lot more than you used to, with no change in your water intake can be a sign of a UTI)
- Blood in your urine — Unless it’s that time of the month, then it’s harder to tell.
- Back pain around your kidney area — your flank and lower back area
- Fever — usually only when a high fever starts to get really bad, or heads to your kidneys. This can be super miserable. Don’t miss my full post all about fever.
**All of these UTI symptoms can also be signs of a kidney stone. However, they are treated differently. Kidney stones are not an infection and are treated differently.
BTW, if “urgency” is the issue — like once you have to pee, you have to pee BAD — I did a podcast with a PT that talks a bit about that:
What to do about a UTI
**Never take anything you’ve read on Pulling Curls over the medical advice of your health care provider. Please seek medical attention if you have any of these common symptoms and think you have a urinary infection.**
Call your doctor – see if you can just bring in a urine sample for them for a urine test. A lot of doctors are going to probably want to see you for a physical exam, so you can also buy urine testing strips on Amazon if you get recurrent UTIS (they are the same strips we use in the office, and it’s easy to tell the results). Unfortunately most actual CURES of a UTI do need to be prescribed by your provider.
Drink more water. It doesn’t make sense. Sometimes it burns so bad when you pee — but the more you DON’T drink plenty of water the WORSE it is. You want to keep flushing out the kidneys and bladder to keep everything healthy.
Prescription pain relief, you can ask your doctor to also prescribe a medication called Pyridium that really helps. It’s like Tylenol for your bladder. Note: It turns your urine BRIGHT orange. So, be sure to clean your toilet when it’s done. 🙂
Over the counter relief is available. I haven’t tried it, so I am not sure if it works as well as Pyridium, but I have heard good things about this one. That’s what my doctor recommends. Either way, you shouldn’t let a festering UTI go. You really do need to see a doctor and get on something. If it goes to your kidneys it can be really bad and make you really sick (possibly with long-term consequences and health conditions, your kidneys are very important).
Either way, if you have any symptoms of a bladder infection and think you have a UTI I am sorry. They are miserable. A few final thoughts:
Don’t take some leftover antibiotics for a UTI. It gets different antibiotics and needs a long enough time-frame to totally get rid of it — otherwise, it will come back with vengeance (not good).
IF you only have burning on your skin when you pee — it could just be irritation around your urethra (that’s the hole where the urine comes out). Ask your provider if there is anything he can recommend for that.
One final reminder that you REALLY need to see a healthcare provider for any type of UTI. It’s not something to mess around with. Can I say that enough?
I hope you found this post helpful — be sure to grab my #1 essential oil mix that cures a lot of our family’s ailments:
Julie Marsh says
Thank you, very helpful info..
Hilary Erickson says
I have had these my whole life. Cranberry juice is disgusting to me because I have HAD to drink it most my life. I have since switched to cranberry pills. I do the whole cocktail;, cranberry pills, vitamin C, acidophilus, magnesium. I try to blow it out with HEALTH, always reading for new ideas. I don’t know how effective it is, but it staves off the doctor visit if I start at first sign(that horrible feeling of your bladder being squeezed painfully at the end of your pee cycle). I take Uristat or whatever generic over the counter analgesic I can find. I do all the things you mentioned, but when I become lacksidasical, drinking too much liquid that isn’t water, I tend to get one. So very frustrating, but the suggestions are definitely right on and important to note for life habits. Thank you.
Hilary Erickson says
I’m so glad!