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.
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.
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.
need to urinate (urgency).
Feeling like you can't completely empty
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.
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.
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
injury to the genital area can cause severe pain.
Usually the pain subsides over the course of a few minutes to an hour. 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
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
Urinary Incontinence in Women or
Urinary Incontinence in Men.
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Starting home treatment at the
first minor signs of a
bladder infection may prevent the problem from getting
worse, clear up your infection, and prevent complications.
Drink more fluids—enough to keep your urine
light yellow or clear like water—as soon as you notice the symptoms and for the
next 24 hours. This will help dilute the urine, flush bacteria out of the
bladder, and decrease irritation. Note: If a medical
condition such as a kidney or heart problem prevents you from drinking more
fluids, make sure you are drinking your usual amount of fluids. Drinking
cranberry or blueberry juice may reduce the chances of
having urinary tract infections.
Urinate when you feel the urge.
Don't wait until a more convenient time.
Do not drink alcohol,
caffeine, and carbonated beverages, which can irritate the
Take a warm bath, which may help relieve pain and itching.
Avoid using bubble bath, because it may
cause more irritation. If urinary pain or vaginal burning and redness
occur in a young girl, she may have an allergy to bubble bath or
Use gentle soaps, such as Basis, Cetaphil, Dove, or Oil of
Olay. Avoid deodorant soaps. Use as little soap as possible.
Apply a heating pad over your genital area to
help relieve the pain. Set the heating pad temperature on low. Never go to
sleep with a heating pad in place.
Examine your genital area.
Increased redness may mean skin irritation.
Wear loose clothing
and soft cotton underwear. Do not use soaps, perfumes, or feminine hygiene
sprays on the genital area.
Avoid intercourse until symptoms
improve. Do not use a diaphragm or spermicidal cream, foam, or gel. A diaphragm
may put pressure on your
urethra. This pressure may slow down or prevent your
bladder from emptying completely. Spermicides can cause
genital skin irritation.
Recurrent bladder infections in women
If you have
bladder infections without complications, you and your
doctor may develop a self-treatment plan. The plan usually includes taking
antibiotics at the first sign of a bladder infection. Contacting your doctor is
not necessary. For more information, see the topic
Urinary Tract Infections in Teens and Adults.
If you are certain that your symptoms are caused by a bladder infection,
follow your doctor's instructions for taking the medicine and monitoring your
symptoms. Keep a diary of the number of times you use your self-treatment plan.
Call your doctor if:
Your symptoms do not improve after 48 hours of
You start having bladder infections more often than in
Your self-treatment plan is developed for your health needs.
Do not take antibiotics that have not been specifically prescribed for this
bladder infection. Do not take antibiotics left over from a previous
prescription or antibiotics prescribed for someone else.
Urinary incontinence is common,
especially among older adults. Home treatment can often help decrease your
Talk to your doctor about your incontinence at
your next regularly scheduled appointment.
Reduce the amount of
fluids you drink to no more than
2 qt (2 L) daily.
Establish a schedule
of urinating every 2 to 4 hours, whether you feel the need or not.
Make a clear, quick path to the bathroom, and wear clothes that you
can easily remove, such as ones with elastic waistbands or Velcro closures.
Keep a bedpan or urinal close to your bed or chair.
"double voiding" by urinating as much as possible, relaxing for a few moments,
and then urinating again.
Do not drink caffeinated or carbonated
beverages, such as caffeinated coffee, tea, and soda.
Do not drink
more than 1 alcohol drink a day.
Increase the amount of fiber in
your diet. Constipation may make your symptoms worse. For more information, see
Constipation, Age 12 and Older.
your pharmacist or doctor about all medicines you take, including
nonprescription medicines, to see whether any of them may be making your
Strengthen your pelvic muscles by doing
Kegel exercises every day and by having a regular
Control your weight. If you are overweight, try
to lose some weight. Remember that effective weight-loss programs depend on a
combination of diet and exercise. For more information, see the topic
Quit smoking or using
other tobacco products. This may reduce the amount that you cough, which may
reduce your problem with incontinence. For more information, see the topic
Home treatment for other urinary problems
information about home treatment for other urinary problems, see the
More urinary symptoms develop, such as
localized back pain (flank pain) or
blood in your urine.
Symptoms become more severe or more
You can help prevent urinary problems by
following these tips:
Drink more fluids, enough to keep your urine
light yellow or clear like water. Water or
cranberry or blueberry juice are good choices. Extra
fluids help flush the urinary tract. Note: If you have
kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor
before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
Do not drink
alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated beverages, which can irritate the
Urinate frequently. Urinate whenever you have the
Wash the genital area once a day with plain water or mild
soap. Rinse well and dry thoroughly.
Increase the amount of fiber
in your diet. Constipation may make your symptoms worse. For more information,
see the topic
Constipation, Age 12 and Older.
The following tips can help women prevent urinary
Wipe from front to back after using the toilet.
This may reduce the spread of bacteria from the
anus to the
Do not take bubble baths or use
perfumed soaps or powders in the genital area. These products may cause
genital skin irritation.
Do not douche,
and do not use vaginal deodorants or perfumed feminine hygiene
Wear cotton underwear, cotton-lined panty hose, and loose
clothing. This helps promote the circulation of air to the vaginal
Change sanitary napkins often.
Drink extra water
before intercourse, and urinate promptly afterward. This is especially
important if you have had many urinary tract infections.
Do not use
a diaphragm or spermicidal cream, foam, or gel. A diaphragm may put pressure on
your urethra. This pressure may slow down or prevent your bladder from emptying
completely. Spermicides can cause genital skin irritation. For more information
on methods of birth control, see the topic
For information about preventing kidney stone formation, see
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.