Is it a yeast infection or a UTI?

Is it a yeast infection or a UTI?

Both urinary tract infections and yeast infections are common in women. In fact, almost every woman will experience one or both at least once in her lifetime. But while some symptoms may be similar, one can be far more serious than the other.

“If left untreated, a urinary tract infection could affect the kidneys and cause more severe problems,” says Dr. Robert Rosenberg, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill. “Especially for women who are pregnant, an untreated urinary tract infection could lead to hospitalization.”

If a woman is experiencing symptoms of a urinary tract infection or yeast infection, Dr. Rosenberg offers this recommendation: “If you’re feeling uncomfortable persistently for two to three days, or your symptoms are getting worse, it’s time to see your doctor.”

Here’s what you need to know about the similarities and differences of urinary tract infections and yeast infections:

Urinary tract infections

  • Cause: Most commonly caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the urinary tract.
  • Symptoms: Burning feeling when you pee. Frequent or intense urges to pee, even when you don’t have much urine to pass. Cloudy or dark urine, possibly with a strong odor. If your kidneys are affected, you might experience bloody urine, fever, chills, nausea or vomiting.
  • Treatment: Usually antibiotics prescribed by your health care provider.
  • Prevention: Stay hydrated. Urinate when you feel the urge; don’t “hold it.” Urinate after sex. Wear cotton underwear or underwear with a cotton panel, and avoid wearing tight-fitting pants or shorts. After a bowel movement, wipe front to back.
  • Important facts you need to know: A UTI can be found anywhere in the urinary tract, including the bladder, ureters, urethra and kidneys. If left untreated, a urinary tract infection can cause severe kidney damage or result in a life-threatening blood infection. Urinary tract infections are the second most common type of infection in the body, accounting for about 8.1 million visits to health care providers each year, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Yeast infections

  • Cause: Usually caused by a fungus called Candida albicans.
  • Symptoms: Painful urination. Vaginal itchiness, burning or soreness. Vaginal discharge that may be thick and white. Pain during sex. Swelling or redness of the vulva.
  • Treatment: Usually an over-the-counter product such as an antifungal cream.
  • Prevention: Wear cotton underwear, or underwear with a cotton panel, and avoid wearing tight-fitting pants or shorts. Change out of sweaty workout clothes or wet swimsuits as soon as you can. Some experts recommend eating yogurt containing live cultures of lactobacillus acidophilus or probiotics.
  • Important fact you need to know: Yeast infections can affect parts of the body other than the vagina, including the mouth.

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About the Author

Kathleen Troher
Kathleen Troher

Kathleen Troher, health enews contributor, is manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Good Sheperd Hospital in Barrington. She has more than 20 years of journalism experience, with her primary focus in the newspaper and magazine industry. Kathleen graduated from Columbia College in Chicago, earning her degree in journalism with an emphasis on science writing and broadcasting. She loves to travel with her husband, Ross. They share their home with a sweet Samoyed named Maggie.