Urination Problems

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Pain and difficulty with urination are common conditions in both men and women. But urination problems may be a sign of more serious problems. Follow this chart for more information about these symptoms and their care.

SYMPTOMS DIAGNOSIS SELF-CARE
Begin Here

1. Do you have pain or burning with urination?


No

Go to Question 7.**

Yes

2. Is your urine cloudy?


No

Go to Question 5.*

Yes

3. Do you have a fever and/or backache?


Yes

Pain and fever may be caused by an infection of the kidneys called PYELONEPHRITIS.

See your doctor right away.

No

4. Do you have sharp, knife-like, intense pains in your back or groin?


Yes

You may have a KIDNEY STONE or another serious problem.

EMERGENCY
See your doctor or go to the emergency room right away.


No

You may have a BLADDER INFECTION or a more serious problem with the KIDNEYS.

See your doctor right away. Left untreated, problems with your kidneys may cause blood poisoning.


*5. Are you a man, and do you have an ache under your scrotum?


Yes

You may have PROSTATITIS, an infection of the prostate gland.

See your doctor.

No

6. Are you a man, and do you have a discharge from the tip of your penis?


Yes

These may be symptoms of an INFECTION such as URETHRITIS or a SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTION, such as GONORRHEA.

See your doctor right away.

No

**7. Do you have the urge to urinate after just using the restroom, and are you only urinating small amounts at a time?


Yes

Your symptoms may be caused by an infection in the bladder, called CYSTITIS, or from an irritation of the bladder, called INTERSTITIAL CYSTITIS, or from a KIDNEY STONE stuck in the bladder, or a chemical in the urine.

See your doctor.

No

8. Are you producing more urine than usual?


No

Go to Question 10.***

Yes

9. Have you been losing weight, drinking lots of fluids and/or have a history of diabetes in the family?


Yes

You may have DIABETES, a condition in which your body lacks insulin or doesn't use it in the right way.

See your doctor.


No

You may be taking a medicine that can cause increased urination. Drinking liquids containing caffeine can also cause increased urination.

You may want to check with your doctor. If you drink caffeinated beverages, try decreasing the amount you drink.


***10. Are you a woman, and do you leak urine when you cough or sneeze?


Yes

Your symptoms may be from a weakness in the bladder due to childbirth or aging. This weakness causes STRESS INCONTINENCE.

Absorbent protection may be helpful. Kegel exercises may help strengthen muscles that support the bladder. See your doctor.

No

11. Are you a man, and do you leak or dribble urine after you urinate, or do you have problems starting the urine stream, or do you wake many times at night to urinate?


Yes

You may have a problem with your PROSTATE GLAND. Your symptoms may be caused by a benign (non-cancerous) ENLARGEMENT or a more serious condition such as INFECTION or CANCER.

See your doctor.

No

12. Do you have blood in your urine?


Yes

You may have a KIDNEY STONE, a TUMOR in the kidney or bladder, a BLADDER INFECTION, TRAUMA to your kidney, or possibly a BLEEDING DISORDER.

See your doctor right away.

No

For more information, please talk to your doctor. If you think the problem is serious, call your doctor right away.

This tool has been reviewed by doctors and is for general educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical advice. The information in this tool should not be relied upon to make decisions about your health. Always consult your family doctor with questions about your individual condition(s) and/or circumstances. Source: American Academy of Family Physicians. Family Health & Medical Guide. Dallas: Word Publishing; 1996.

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