Can a UTI Cause Abdominal Pain?

Are you experiencing abdominal pain and wondering if it could be a symptom of a urinary tract infection (UTI)?

The answer is yes, UTIs can cause abdominal pain and discomfort. Abdominal pain is actually a common symptom of a UTI, especially for women. The pain is usually located in the lower abdomen or pelvic area and may range from mild discomfort to severe cramping.

Continue reading to learn more about UTIs and stomach pain and what you can do to find relief.

Key Takeaways

  • UTIs can cause abdominal pain and discomfort in the lower stomach and the bladder area.
  • Other common UTI symptoms include pain or burning sensation when urinating, frequent urination, and cloudy or strong-smelling urine.
  • To relieve abdominal pain caused by a UTI, drink plenty of fluids, use a heating pad, empty your bladder frequently, avoid foods and drinks that irritate the bladder, and take over-the-counter pain medication.
  • If your abdominal pain persists or is accompanied by fever, chills, nausea, or vomiting, seek medical attention.

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.

But there are also some things you can do at home to help ease the abdominal pain and discomfort caused by a UTI. Here are some tips:

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

When you have a UTI, it’s important to avoid certain foods and drinks that can irritate your bladder and make your symptoms worse.

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. 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 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 Preven a UTI?

While it’s not always possible to prevent UTIs completely, there are steps you can take to lower your risk of developing one such as:

  • 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 to avoid transferring bacteria that are undesirable to the urethra. Changing tampons and pads frequently is recommended for women while they are menstruating.
  • Urinate frequently. 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. 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.

How to Treat a UTI?

UTIs are typically caused by bacteria, making antibiotics the only effective treatment. It’s important to understand that no over-the-counter medications or natural remedies can replace antibiotics in treating UTIs. A healthcare provider must prescribe these medications after diagnosing a UTI.

The choice of antibiotics may vary depending on the specific bacteria causing the infection and the patient’s medical history. Some of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics for UTIs include Bactrim, Nitrofurantoin (Macrobid), and Ciprofloxacin (Cipro). Your doctor will determine the best antibiotic based on your specific circumstances.

Untreated or improperly treated UTIs can lead to serious complications, including recurrent infections, permanent kidney damage, or even sepsis, a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection.

While antibiotics do the work of fighting the infection, you can take steps to support the healing process and relieve any pain and discomfort caused by a UTI by drinking plenty of fluids, using a heating pad, emptying your bladder frequently, avoiding foods and drinks that irritate the bladder, and taking over-the-counter pain medication if needed.

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, 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. https://doi.org/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. https://doi.org/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. https://doi.org/10.1093/aje/kws411.

Content on the DrHouse website is written by our medical content team and reviewed by qualified MDs, PhDs, NPs, and PharmDs. We follow strict content creation guidelines to ensure accurate medical information. However, this content is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For more information read our medical disclaimer.

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