Most people will have some kind of urinary problem or injury in their lifetime. Urinary tract problems and injuries can range from minor to more serious. Sometimes, minor and serious problems can start with the same symptoms. Many urinary problems and injuries are minor, and home treatment is all that is needed to relieve your symptoms.
Urine color and odor
Many things can affect urine color, including fluid balance, diet, medicines, and diseases. How dark or light the color is tells you how much water is in it. Vitamin B supplements can turn urine bright yellow. Some medicines, blackberries, beets, rhubarb, or blood in the urine can turn urine red-brown.
Some foods (such as asparagus), vitamins, and antibiotics (such as penicillin) can cause urine to have a different odor. A sweet, fruity odor may be caused by uncontrolled diabetes. A urinary tract infection (UTI) can cause a bad odor.
Common symptoms of a urinary problem include:
- Burning with urination (dysuria). This is the most common symptom of a urinary tract infection.
- Frequent urge to urinate without being able to pass much urine (frequency).
- Pain in the flank, which is felt just below the rib cage and above the waist on one or both sides of the back.
- Urgent need to urinate (urgency).
- Feeling like you can't completely empty your bladder.
- Blood in the urine (hematuria). Your urine may look red, brown, or pink. Blood in the urine may occur after intense exercise, such as running or bicycling.
- Leaking urine (incontinence).
- Nausea and vomiting.
When you only have one symptom or if your symptoms are vague, it can be harder to figure out what the problem is. If you are slightly dehydrated, your urine will be more concentrated, and urinating may cause discomfort. Drink more fluids-enough to keep your urine light yellow or clear like water-to help decrease discomfort.
Urinary tract infections
When you have a urinary tract infection (UTI), you may have several urinary symptoms. UTIs are more common in women than in men. This is because the urethra is shorter in women and comes into contact with bacteria from the skin, anus, and vagina. You can reduce your chance of having a UTI by controlling risk factors that can cause these infections.
Infections that commonly cause UTI symptoms include:
- Bladder infections, which are the most common type of UTI, and occur most often in sexually active women ages 20 to 50. An estimated 50% of women develop bladder infections sometime during their lives.
- Kidney infections, which are less common and more serious than bladder infections.
- Prostatitis and epididymitis. These are urinary tract problems in men. For more information, see the topics Prostatitis and Epididymitis.
- Urethritis, which can occur with sexually transmitted infections (STIs), causing pain with urination. For more information, see the topic Sexually Transmitted Infections.
- Interstitial cystitis. This causes symptoms like a UTI, but no infection is present.
Other urinary problems
Kidney stones are another urinary problem that can cause mild to severe urinary symptoms. Men ages 20 to 30 are affected most often with kidney stones, but anyone can get stones at any age. For more information, see the topic Kidney Stones.
An injury to the genital area can cause severe pain. The severity of the pain is not always an indicator of the severity of the injury. After an injury such as a hit to the genital area, it is important to watch for urinary problems. You usually need to see your doctor if you are having trouble urinating, can't urinate, have blood in your urine, have swelling, or have ongoing pain.
In women and girls, genital skin irritation can cause pain with urination.
Urinary problems related to aging
As people age, some urinary problems become more common. Stress incontinence is the most common form of urinary incontinence in older women. Multiple childbirths, aging, and decreasing hormone levels may cause changes in the pelvic muscles and supportive structures that lead to stress incontinence. It may also occur in men, especially those who have had prostate surgery. For more information, see the topic Urinary Incontinence in Women or Urinary Incontinence in Men.
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.