Can a UTI Cause a Sore Throat?

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Jessica Guht
Categorized as UTI

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can cause a range of symptoms, but is a sore throat one of them? That’s what we explore in this post. 

Here, you’ll learn the typical symptoms of UTIs and what you can expect. We will then ask whether a UTI can cause a sore throat or other flu-like symptoms and whether it might be a kidney infection. Read on to learn more. 

Table of Contents

What Are the Typical Symptoms of a UTI?

UTI symptoms tend to vary according to the location of the infection. In most cases, symptoms affect either the urethrogenital area or the kidneys, but not the throat. 

Generic UTI symptoms include: 

  • Smelly pee or pee that has an unusual odor (different from normal)
  • A tingling or burning sensation when you pee
  • Pink, red or cloudy urine
  • Generalized pain in the pelvic area, particularly around the pubic bone
  • Needing to go to the bathroom frequently to pass urine

If you have back or side pain, a fever, shaking, chills, vomiting, or nausea, your UTI may be in your kidneys. These are the most serious type of UTI and you should consult your doctor immediately. 

If the UTI is mainly in your bladder, you will experience discomfort in your lower abdomen, frequent painful urination, and pressure in your pelvis. You may also have blood in your urine if the disease has been going on for a long time.

Lastly, if the infection is in the urethra – the tube that connects your bladder to the outside world – burning, and discharge are the most common symptoms. These tend to be the least serious infections, but they can spread fast. 

Please note that it is easy to mistake a UTI for a sexually transmitted disease (STI) and vice versa. Therefore, always ask a doctor for comprehensive tests. 

Can a UTI Cause a Sore Throat?

UTIs by themselves do not usually cause sore throats. However, other infections can. 

Chlamydia, for instance, can mimic some symptoms of UTIs, including vaginal discharge, painful urination, and discharge from the penis in men, and infect the throat at the same time. During oral sex, the infection can spread from your partner’s genitals to the pharyngeal area, and then into your own genitals.

However, you may also just be unlucky and have two different infections at the same time: both a UTI and a cold or the flu. Again, seeing a doctor can help you clarify what is wrong. If it is wintertime in your area, then the likelihood of cold and flu infections goes up. 

Can a UTI Cause Other Flu-Like Symptoms?

While UTIs don’t usually cause sore throats, they can lead to flu-like symptoms, particularly if you have a severe infection in the upper urinary tract. If you experience fever, chills, vomiting, or nausea, see your doctor immediately. You may require antibiotics

Usually, UTIs in the bladder and urethra do not cause flu-like symptoms, but it depends on your biology. Some people’s immune systems are more vigilant than others, so symptoms vary. 

Most UTIs are uncomfortable, but not debilitating. You should be able to live your regular life, even if going to the bathroom is painful. 

However, if you have a serious UTI, it will feel similar to the flu. That’s because your body is reacting in much the same way as if you had a severe respiratory tract infection. Inflammatory cytokines and immune cells are flooding your bloodstream, causing swelling, aching, and high temperature. Bacteria may even be in the blood itself, causing generalized symptoms not restricted to the urethrogenital area.

Could It Be a Kidney Infection?

If you have flu-like symptoms with a UTI, you often have a kidney infection. Kidneys are extremely sensitive and essential for keeping you alive, so the body will mount a robust response. 

With that said, most UTIs don’t start off this way. Because they begin in the bladder or urethra, initial symptoms are mild. You may experience a burning sensation when you pee, or your urine could smell funny but it shouldn’t disrupt your daily activities too much. 

However, as the body struggles to eliminate the UTI-causing bacteria, infections continue to get worse. Eventually, germs make their way from the bladder to the kidneys via the ureter, causing more severe infection. 

People with immunocompromising conditions are at a particularly high risk of developing a fever, nausea, and other symptoms. That’s because their bodies cannot fight infection effectively through conventional, low-level channels. Those with HIV/AIDS or diabetes, for instance, many get flu-like symptoms without accompanying kidney infections. 

What to Do if You Have UTI and Flu-Like Symptoms?

Unfortunately, chronic, long-lasting UTIs can result in kidney damage. Bacteria destroy the delicate tissues that filter the blood, which can lead to irreversible damage and even death.

Therefore, if you have flu-like and other UTI symptoms, you should see a doctor immediately. The presence of a fever, chills, vomiting, or nausea suggests that the infection is in your kidneys. 

If you are sexually active, the combination of a UTI- and flu-like symptoms could be a result of an STI. Sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia, are quite difficult to tell apart from UTIs in some cases. Again, you should see a doctor. They can perform various tests to tell you what sort of infection you have and the treatment you need. 

Lastly, you may simply be unlucky and have a cold and UTI at the same time. This combination of symptoms is more likely to occur if you are sexually active and it’s winter outside. 

Get Help From DrHouse!

If you think you might have a UTI and flu-like symptoms, you should get help from your doctor right away. At DrHouse, we can provide a comprehensive evaluation, recommend a treatment plan and prescribe necessary medications.

Our board-certified clinicians are experienced in treating all types of UTIs and will be able to identify the cause and get you started on the right treatment plan quickly. Contact us today for a consultation. We’re here to help!

Key Takeaways

  • Most UTIs do not cause sore throats
  • If you have a sore throat and UTI-like symptoms, you may have an STI or a cold
  • UTIs that spread to the kidneys in normal, non-immunocompromised patients can cause flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting
  • UTIs in the lower urethrogenital area may cause flu-like symptoms in immunocompromised patients immediately
  • Chronic UTIs can damage the kidneys and have debilitating effects on your quality of life
  • If you have severe UTI or flu-like symptoms, see your doctor immediately

Sources:

  • Zeev Arinzon, Shay Shabat, Alexander Peisakh, Yitshal Berner, Clinical presentation of urinary tract infection (UTI) differs with aging in women, Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, Volume 55, Issue 1, 2012, Pages 145-147, ISSN 0167-4943, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.archger.2011.07.012.
  • Jill S. Huppert, Frank Biro, Dongmei Lan, Joel E. Mortensen, Jennifer Reed, Gail B. Slap, Urinary Symptoms in Adolescent Females: STI or UTI?,Journal of Adolescent Health, Volume 40, Issue 5, 2007, Pages 418-424, ISSN 1054-139X, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2006.12.010.
  • C C Kuo, L A Jackson, L A Campbell, J T Grayston, Chlamydia pneumoniae (TWAR) ASM Journals Clinical Microbiology Reviews Vol. 8, No. 4, 1 October 1995. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1128/CMR.8.4.451
  • Michael D Melekos, Kurt G Naber, Complicated urinary tract infections, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, Volume 15, Issue 4, 2000, Pages 247-256, ISSN 0924-8579, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0924-8579(00)00168-0.
  • Zafer Tandogdu, Tommaso Cai, Bela Koves, Florian Wagenlehner, Truls Erik Bjerklund-Johansen, Urinary Tract Infections in Immunocompromised Patients with Diabetes, Chronic Kidney Disease, and Kidney Transplant, European Urology Focus, Volume 2, Issue 4, 2016, Pages 394-399, ISSN 2405-4569, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.euf.2016.08.006

DrHouse articles are written by MDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. The contents of the DrHouse site are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.

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