Burning Urination: Cause and Treatment
What is Burning Urination?
Urinary burning is pain that is felt when urine is being expelled from the bladder. The symptoms may be constant or variable and may improve or worsen depending on body function and movement. The pain may be described as a raw sensation or a stinging feeling and can range in intensity from mild to severe. Urinary burning may be accompanied by pain or difficulty when urinating (dysuria), feeling a constant need to urinate (urgency), or blood in the urine (hematuria). A condition affecting the bladder or nearby parts of the body can cause painful urination. Burning and leakage of pee are often associated with Urinary Tract Infections.
Burning or pain during urination may be felt at the opening of the urethra or, less often, over the bladder (in the pelvis, the lower part of the abdomen just above the pubic bone). Burning or pain during urination is an extremely common symptom in women, but it can affect men and can occur at any age. Seek prompt medical care for symptoms including bloody or pink-colored urine (hematuria), dysuria (difficulty urinating), urinary retention, or high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit). Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for urinary burning but mild symptoms recur or are persistent.
What Causes Burning Urination?
There are many potential causes of urinary burning. Urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast infections, and sexually transmitted diseases, such as Chlamydia, gonorrhea, or herpes, are common causes. Urinary burning will also occur if you experience damage or injury to any of the structures of the urinary tract, including the kidney, bladder, urethra, or ureter. Injury or trauma could also be a result of sexual abuse. Urinary burning can be caused by pain and discomfort in the vulva (vulvodynia) or by diseases or conditions of the reproductive system that affect the vulva (external genitalia). Urine content may also cause burning when urinating and can be the result of eating acidic or spicy food or drinking caffeine or alcohol.
- Urinary Tract Infection: A urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when excess bacteria build up somewhere in the urinary tract. This part of the body runs from the kidneys to the bladder to the urethra, which carries urine toward the outside of the body.
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): You may also experience pain when urinating if you have acquired a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Some STIs that may cause painful urination include genital herpes, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. It’s important to be screened for STIs, especially because they don’t always have symptoms. Many people who are sexually active should get tested for STIs.
- Prostatitis: Other medical conditions can cause painful urination. People with a prostate may experience painful urination due to prostatitis. This condition is the inflammation of the prostate gland. It’s a primary cause of urinary burning, stinging, and discomfort.
- Cystitis: Another cause of painful urination is cystitis or the inflammation of the bladder’s lining. Interstitial cystitis (IC) is also known as painful bladder syndrome. It’s the most common type of cystitis. Symptoms of IC include pain and tenderness in the bladder and pelvic region. In some cases, radiation therapy can cause bladder and urinary pain. This condition is known as radiation cystitis.
- Kidney stones: Kidney stones are collections of materials, such as calcium or uric acid, that build up and form hardened stones in and around the kidneys. Sometimes, the kidney stones will lodge themselves near the area where urine enters the bladder. This can cause painful urination.
- Ovarian cysts: Much like kidney stones, ovarian cysts are an example of how something outside the bladder can press on it and cause painful urination. Ovarian cysts can develop on one or both ovaries, which sit on either side of the bladder.
- Vaginal Infection: Sometimes painful urination can be related to a vaginal infection, such as a yeast infection. With vaginal infections, you may also expect changes in vaginal discharge and odor.
- Urethritis: Urethritis indicates that the urethra has become inflamed, usually due to an infection by bacteria. Urethritis often causes pain while urinating and can also cause an increased urge to urinate.
- Epididymitis: Painful urination can also be caused by epididymitis or inflammation of the epididymis in those with a penis. The epididymis is located at the back of the testicles and stores and moves sperm from the testes.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): PID can affect the fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, and uterus. It can cause pain in the abdomen, painful sex, and painful urination, among other symptoms. PID is a serious infection that is usually caused by an initial bacterial infection in the vagina that then moves into the reproductive organs.
- Obstructive uropathy: Obstructive uropathy is when an obstruction in the ureter, bladder, or urethra causes urine to flow back into the kidneys. Causes vary, but it’s important to seek medical help when symptoms occur.
- Urethral stricture: Another condition, urethral stricture, can cause narrowing of the urethra, causing similar issues with urination and pain.
- Chemical sensitivity: Sometimes, chemicals that are external to the body, such as fragrances, can irritate bodily tissues. When a person urinates, this irritation may be more noticeable, and pain may occur. Products that can cause chemical sensitivity include douches, scented toilet paper, vaginal lubricants, contraceptive foams, and others.
- Medications: Certain medications, such as those for cancer treatments and some antibiotics, can have painful urination as a side effect. Talk to your healthcare provider about any side effects of medications you may be taking.
- Hygiene products: Sometimes painful urination isn’t due to an infection. It can also be caused by products that you use in the genital regions. Soaps, lotions, and bubble baths can irritate vaginal tissues especially. Dyes in laundry detergents and other toiletry products can also cause irritation and lead to painful urination.
Symptoms of Burning Urination
Urinary burning may accompany other symptoms that vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder, or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the urinary tract may also involve other body systems. Urinary burning may accompany other symptoms affecting the urinary tract including:
- Bloody or pink-colored urine (hematuria)
- Changes in urine color
- Cloudy urine
- Dysuria (difficulty urinating) and urinary retention
- Foul-smelling urine
- Frequent urination that often produces only a small amount of urine
- Painful urination
- Urgent need to urinate
Other symptoms may occur along with urinary burning. Urinary burning may accompany symptoms related to other body systems including:
- Abdominal, pelvic, or lower back pain that can be severe
- Fever and chills
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Night sweats
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Pain in your groin or side
- Redness, warmth, or swelling
Serious symptoms that might indicate a life threatening condition. In some cases, urinary burning may be a symptom of a serious condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these symptoms:
- High fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Inability to urinate
- Severe abdominal pain
What Foods Cause Burning Urine?
Certain foods and beverages might irritate your bladder, and therefore might lead to burning urination:
- Coffee, tea, and carbonated drinks, even without caffeine
- Certain acidic fruits — oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes — and fruit juices
- Spicy foods
- Tomato-based products
- Carbonated drinks
- Citrus Fruits
- Acidic Food
- Artificial Sweeteners
- Monosodium Glutamate
How to Ease Burning Urination?
- Drink plenty of water: If a person does not drink enough water, the bladder can become more sensitive, and the urine can become more concentrated, exacerbating symptoms. It is crucial to note, however, that this advice only applies during the day. Limit the intake of water late in the evening to prevent the urge to urinate from disrupting sleep.
- Empty the bladder fully: When urine stays in the bladder for too long, resident bacteria can grow and multiply. A person should empty their bladder fully each time they urinate. This is especially important during a UTI.
- Take sodium bicarbonate: Taking sodium bicarbonate may help reduce the level of acidity in the urine, which may in turn help ease the symptoms of a UTI.
How to Treat Burning Urination?
Treatment options for painful urination depend on the underlying cause. Some examples include:
- Treating UTIs with antibiotics: Severe UTIs that affect the kidneys may require intravenous antibiotics.
- Phenazopyridine: It relieves urinary tract pain, burning, irritation, and discomfort, as well as urgent and frequent urination caused by urinary tract infections, surgery, injury, or examination procedures. However, phenazopyridine is not an antibiotic; it does not cure infections.
- Treating prostatitis with antibiotics: A person may take these for up to 12 weeks if they have chronic bacterial prostatitis. Other possible prostatitis treatments include over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatories, prostatic massage, hot baths, and medications called alpha-blockers, which relax the muscles around the prostate.
- Avoiding the use of harsh soaps or other chemical products near the genitals that could potentially lead to irritation. A person’s symptoms will often resolve quickly when chemical irritation is the underlying cause.
- At-home care for painful urination often includes taking OTC anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen.
A doctor will often encourage a person to drink more fluids as this dilutes urine, making it less painful to pass. Resting and taking medications as directed can usually help relieve most symptoms. Everyone may experience painful urination from time to time. A person should see their doctor if the pain is consistent, and they are also experiencing the following symptoms:
- blood in the urine, which will usually appear pink, brown, or red
- pain in the side or back
- pain that lasts longer than 24 hours
- unusual discharge from the penis or vagina
If an adult has a fever that is higher than 103 °F, they should seek emergency medical attention. A person should not ignore pain when urinating. A doctor can often help identify treatments that will reduce pain.
Burning urination is a concerning condition. However, with changes in lifestyle and proper precautions and treatment, it is preventable and curable. Hopefully, this article gave you some information regarding causes and treatment for burning urine.