Can a UTI Cause Abdominal Pain?

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Jessica Guht
Categorized as UTI

If you are experiencing lower abdominal or upper abdominal pain, you are likely to be concerned about what is causing it. One of the things you may have encountered is a urinary tract infection, otherwise known as a UTI. Here, we look at some of the symptoms of a UTI and stomach pain.

Table of Contents

Can a UTI Cause Stomach Pain?

A UTI absolutely can, and usually does cause severe abdominal pain, particularly pain in the lower stomach and bladder area. It is not the only symptom of a urinary tract infection (UTI) or kidney infection, and if you are suffering from abdominal pain, it does not necessarily mean you have a bacterial infection. However, if you are suffering from pain, it is important to seek medical attention to find out the cause and if necessary, start oral antibiotics to relieve symptoms and manage any underlying infection before it causes any further issues.

Other UTI Symptoms

It is important to know what symptoms frequently point to a UTI. These are some of the other symptoms to watch out for:

  • Pain or a burning sensation when passing urine
  • The urge to pass urine more frequently, particularly at night
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Bloating
  • Cloudy or dark colored urine
  • Sudden urge to pass urine
  • Blood in urine
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Back pain, particularly the rib location
  • High temperature
  • Low temperature
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of confusion or delirium, particularly in elderly people.

How to Relieve UTI Abdominal Pain?

If you have a urinary tract infection (UTI), it is important to seek medical advice as soon as possible, as you will almost certainly need oral antibiotics to treat it and prevent it from turning into a more serious infection.

Use a Heating Pad

The application of a warm heating pad or hot water bottle to your lower abdomen can help ease stomach pain with a UTI and lower back pain or cramping, as well as reduce the pressure that is being exerted on the bladder.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

Your urine will be diluted, and bacteria will be flushed out of your bladder if you drink plenty of water and other fluids that are low in sugar and do not contain carbonation.

In addition, maintaining an adequate level of hydration can stop the proliferation of bacteria.

According to a number of studies, drinking more water overall can make a person less likely to suffer from recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs). Your urine should be colorless or very light yellow, and you should aim to go to the bathroom at least once every four hours.

Empty Your Bladder

When you have a urinary tract infection (UTI), it is especially important to completely empty your bladder to stop the further growth of bacteria in your body which can cause kidney diseases.

Urinating frequently is essential for helping to rid your bladder of harmful bacteria and preventing the infection from getting worse. While painful urination is not pleasant when you need to go, go. 

Avoid Food and Beverages That May Irritate the Bladder

Alcohol, caffeinated drinks, carbonated beverages, and spicy foods are the most common types of substances that irritate the bladder.

It has been discovered that both caffeine and alcohol can cause an increase in bladder spasms, which can make the pain associated with a UTI even more severe. And both men and women who increased their consumption of coffee or soda had a higher risk of developing symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Take Over-The-Counter Pain Relief

Pain relievers available over-the-counter, such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and Tylenol, can help alleviate the discomfort associated with urinary tract issues.

What Else Could Be Causing Your Stomach Pain?

It is essential to remember that cramping and pain in your lower abdomen can be brought on by a variety of different medical conditions besides just urinary tract issues. The following are some examples of conditions that can cause pain or cramping in the abdominal region:

  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Constipation
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Appendicitis
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Kidney stones

How to Prevent and Treat UTIs?

  • Maintain an adequate level of hydration by drinking plenty of water. This will assist in the diluting of your urine and will continue to flush bacteria from your bladder.
  • Try drinking some cranberry juice. Several studies have shown that cranberries contain an active ingredient that can prevent some bacteria, such as e-coli, from adhering to the urinary tract. It is important to pay attention to the components, as the sugar content of some cranberry juices can be quite high. Look for cranberry juice that is 100 percent pure or take a supplement that contains cranberry extract. You can also explore taking probiotics to balance good and bad bacteria. 
  • Maintain a high standard of personal cleanliness: After using the restroom, it is important to remember to wipe in a forward-to-backward motion in order to avoid transferring bacteria that are undesirable to the urethra. Changing tampons and pads frequently is recommended for women while they are menstruating.
  • Urinating frequently can help flush bacteria from the bladder, which can reduce the risk of recurring urinary tract infections (UTIs), so you should not fight the urge to urinate. Make an effort to avoid keeping the urine in for too long.
  • Urinate as soon as possible after sexual activity. During sexual activity,  bacteria from the rectal area can be pushed toward the opening of the urethra. This can cause an infection. Urinating shortly after sexual contact helps to eliminate any bacteria that may have entered the urinary system and protects against infections.
  • Do not douche or perform any other form of internal vaginal cleansing. Not only can douching irritate the urethra, but it also has the potential to alter the vagina’s naturally protective pH balance and the bacteria that live there. This can put you at risk for a vaginal infection and urinary tract infection.
  • Consider alternative methods of birth control to: Some methods of birth control, such as diaphragms and spermicide, are known to alter the natural bacteria found in the vagina, making it easier for potentially dangerous bacteria to flourish.[source: 

When to See a Doctor?

Visit your primary care physician or urgent care if you have any of the symptoms listed above.  They can determine whether bacteria are present in your urine through the use of a urine test. If you do indeed have a urinary tract infection (UTI), taking a full course of antibiotics should help you get rid of the infection.

In the event that a urinary tract infection (UTI) is not treated, the infection may spread from the bladder to the kidneys. This can result in serious complications such as damage to the kidneys as well as sepsis.

How Can DrHouse Help You?

If you’re experiencing symptoms of a UTI such as burning when urinating, cloudy or bloody urine, or pelvic pain, DrHouse can help! Our online clinicians can quickly and easily diagnose your condition and prescribe medication if needed without you ever having to leave your home.

If you’re looking for a convenient, affordable way to get care for your UTI try DrHouse today!

Key Takeaways

While a UTI is not the only thing that can cause abdominal cramps, and abdominal cramps certainly do not mean you have a UTI, it is one of the most common symptoms. It is important to visit your doctor and start treatment as soon as possible if you believe you have a UTI. Likewise, seek medical attention if you have any unexplained pain in the abdomen. 

Sources:

  • Urinary Tract Infection. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/uti.html 
  • B Foxman and R R Frerichs, 1985: Epidemiology of urinary tract infection: I. Diaphragm use and sexual intercourse. American Journal of Public Health 75, 1308_1313, https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.75.11.1308
  • Nicolosi D, Tempera G, Genovese C, Furneri PM. Anti-Adhesion Activity of A2-type Proanthocyanidins (a Cranberry Major Component) on Uropathogenic E. coli and P. mirabilis Strains. Antibiotics (Basel). 2014;3(2):143-154. Published 2014 Apr 3. doi:10.3390/antibiotics3020143
  • Bradley CS, Erickson BA, Messersmith EE, Pelletier-Cameron A, Lai HH, Kreder KJ, Yang CC, Merion RM, Bavendam TG, Kirkali Z; Symptoms of Lower Urinary Tract Dysfunction Research Network (LURN). Evidence of the Impact of Diet, Fluid Intake, Caffeine, Alcohol and Tobacco on Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms: A Systematic Review. J Urol. 2017 Nov;198(5):1010-1020. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2017.04.097. Epub 2017 May 4. PMID: 28479236; PMCID: PMC5654651.
  • Maserejian NN, Wager CG, Giovannucci EL, Curto TM, McVary KT, McKinlay JB. Intake of caffeinated, carbonated, or citrus beverage types and development of lower urinary tract symptoms in men and women. Am J Epidemiol. 2013;177(12):1399-1410. doi:10.1093/aje/kws411
  • Prevention of Recurrent Acute Uncomplicated Cystitis by Increasing Daily Water in Premenopausal Women : A Prospective Randomized Controlled Study. IDWeek.  Available from: https://idsa.confex.com/idsa/2017/webprogram/Paper67459.html 

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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