Articles Difference between UTIs
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Self-diagnosing Cystitis and UTI

Grandmother and Daughter posing for photo.

How can Doctors tell the difference between UTIs such as Cystitis and Kidney Infection?

There are three main types of urinary tract infection and a range of other medical conditions with similar symptoms. Symptomatic diagnosis is just one method used by Doctors to identify a disease. A proper diagnosis of infectious diseases usually requires a physical examination, a revision of medical history and laboratory tests.

Types of Urinary Tract Infection

Symptoms of Cystitis

  • Rapid onset of symptoms.
  • Difficulty, burning sensation, or pain passing urine.
  • Bacteria found in urine.
  • Smelly or cloudy urine.
  • Frequent urge to urinate.
  • Discomfort in lower abdominal area that increases as the bladder fills.
  • Difficulty, burning sensation, or pain passing water.
  • Possibly traces of blood in urine.

Symptoms and Indicators of Interstitial Cystitis

Complicated bladder infection, Interstitial Cystitis or antibiotic resistant UTI require medical investigation.

  • Probable recent urological/cystoscopic/ internal examination.
  • Recurring infection symptoms with repeat doses of antibiotics.
  • Symptoms often return after antibiotic treatment, with rapid onset once the infection flares up again.
  • Bacteria not always found in urine by dipstick tests.
  • Frequent urge to urinate.
  • Discomfort in lower abdominal area that increases as the bladder fills.
  • Difficulty, burning sensation, or pain passing water.
  • Possibly traces of blood in urine.
  • Pain or pressure in the bladder, often just above the pubic bone.
  • A feeling like sharp needles in the bladder.
  • A feeling of unexplained irritation in the bladder.
  • Sexual intercourse feels painful.
  • Prolonged retention of urine.
  • Decreased bladder capacity.
  • Feelings of pressure, pain, and tenderness around the bladder and pelvis.
  • Discomfort or pain in the genitals.

Symptoms of Urethritis

  • An increased urge to urinate.
  • Struggling to commence urinating.
  • Discomfort, irritation, pain at times outside of urination.
  • Pain during intimacy.
  • Blood in urine, in men.
  • Discharge from the urethral opening.

Symptoms and Indicators of Kidney Infection

Kidney infection and Kidney stones require medical intervention.

  • A previous history of urinary tract infection, and repeat doses of antibiotics, often at increasingly higher doses.
  • A broad-spectrum antibiotic has been previously prescribed - possibly a fluoroquinolone.
  • Lower back pain, sharp or dull, sometimes extending around the waist.
  • Hot and cold flushes/fever.
  • Sudden and often extreme fatigue.
  • UTI symptoms such as infected urine, blood in urine etc.
  • Larger than normal amounts of protein will be found in the urine.
  • Sudden spasms of excruciating pain extending down towards the bladder and groin indicate movement of a kidney stone.

Diseases with similar symptoms to UTI

Symptoms of Bladder Cancer

While most of the symptoms listed below are more likely to be a symptom of infection, they may also be associated with bladder cancer. Around 95% of suspected bladder cancers turn out to be something less serious. It is important however to seek medical advice if you have a combination of a slow onset of symptoms with any of the following symptoms listed below. Cancers usually don't just appear overnight but caught early can be treated.

  • Blood in the urine.
  • Urinary frequency/urgency.
  • Painful urination.
  • Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss.
  • Anaemia.
  • Bone pain or tenderness.
  • Urinary incontinence.
  • Lower abdominal pain.
  • Extreme fatigue.

Symptoms of STD/STI

Owing to the large variety of sexually transmitted diseases possible, it's not possible to cover them here. If you suspect you have an STD, cease all intimate activities, even when using protection and see your Doctor as soon as possible.

Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea or Syphilis

  • A change in vaginal discharge.
  • Painful periods.
  • Abdominal pain with mild fever.
  • A white or yellow discharge from the male genitals.
  • Pain or burning when passing urine.
  • Irritation around the genitals.
  • Perineal pain.

Hepatitis A, B or C

  • A short, usually mild, flu-like illness.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Dark urine.
  • Fatigue.
  • Nausea and diarrhoea.
  • Unexplained loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss.
  • Yellow skin and whites of eyes, with pale faeces (jaundice).
  • Itchy skin from damage to the liver.