Urinary tract infections are common among women of all ages. It is estimated that one out of every five women will experience at least one UTI during her life. If you’ve been affected by this temporary condition, you may remember your symptoms well; the burning and constant sensation of needing to empty your bladder. Some women even develop fever and nausea associated with a urinary tract infection. Some women seem to sense their symptoms persistently. This is when notice needs to be taken.
The same symptoms that indicate a UTI could also mean interstitial cystitis. Here, we discuss what each of these conditions is and how you may be able to tell the difference so your symptoms can be adequately treated.
Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary tract infection describes a temporary irritation within the bladder and urethra. The bladder and the tube through which urine travels can become infected when bacteria are introduced into the area. First, bacteria enter the urethra, causing mild inflammation. Then it travels into the bladder, which usually results in more intense symptoms.
Signs that you may have a urinary tract infection include:
- Urgent sensation to urinate, sometimes several times an hour.
- Very little urine output.
- Urination coincides with a burning sensation.
- Urine is cloudy and may have a foul odor.
- Urine appears dark, indicating the presence of blood.
- Abdominal or low back pain develops. This may feel like pressure or bloat.
- Fever and chills.
Interstitial cystitis is a bladder syndrome, not an infection. It is estimated that as many as 8 million women are affected by the symptoms of this chronic inflammation within the bladder lining. The irritation that is caused by inflammation causes symptoms that mimic a UTI, including pain and a frequent need to urinate with little output. Additionally, though, many women with interstitial cystitis also experience painful intercourse. This, along with a negative urine screening, is how your doctor can accurately diagnose which condition you have and how to treat your symptoms appropriately.