When experiencing painful or burning sensations while urinating, the first thing that comes to mind is a urinary tract infection. Truthfully, this is the most common cause of dysuria, which is the technical term for the burning and pain when urinating. It’s most often felt in the urethra, when urine passes through to vacate the body. However, the sensation can be experienced even when you stop urinating, with more pain occurring in the area that surrounds your genitals, called the perineum. However, there are other things that can cause dysuria, which means that it’s necessary to see a doctor to determine the underlying condition.
UTI or something else? Other issues of the urinary tract
Aside from developing a UTI, there are a number of reasons a patient may experience dysuria. In order to properly treat the symptom, the ailment causing it must first be identified to assess the right form of treatment.
Some of the more common issues with the urinary tract that could cause dysuria include:
- Kidney stones. These are small, hard deposits in the kidneys, often of calcium, that form and are painful to pass.
- Bladder stones. These occur when the patient cannot completely void urine from the bladder, in which case some of the minerals in the remaining urine (which is highly concentrated) crystallize.
- Cystitis. This is inflammation of the bladder, often caused by a recent or existing UTI that has been exacerbated and did not clear up with the infection.
- Urethritis. This is a specific infection of the urethra that is common in UTIs but can also occur separately, causing inflammation and swelling that can narrow the urethra and make urinating painful and difficult.
Other infections that cause dysuria
It’s not always a bacterial infection that leads to the development of burning and painful urination. In fact, other types of infections that might occur with dysuria as a symptom include:
- Vaginitis. The inflammation of the vagina can lead to symptoms that include itching, pain, and discharge, but it can also readily cause dysuria based on the proximity to the urinary tract and the inflammation spreading or pressing on the urethra.
- Yeast infection. Typically caused by a chemical imbalance in vagina, this fungal infection can lead to irritation in all surrounding areas, including the urethra, causing dysuria.
- Prostatitis. In men, especially with age, an enlarged prostate is common. Any inflammation, infection, or enlarging of the prostate can lead to burning and pain while urinating.
Sexually transmitted infections
Dysuria is also a common symptom of a number of different sexually transmitted diseases and infections. If this is the cause behind painful and burning urination, it is especially important to diagnose, most of all in patients who continue to be sexually active. Identification and treatment are necessary to stop the progression and spread of such conditions, which may include:
- Chlamydia. In many cases, this STI can lead to urethritis, which has several symptoms, the most common of which is dysuria.
- Genital herpes. Recognized easily by genital pain and sores that appear acutely, genital herpes is extremely common, with an estimated one in four people between the ages of eighteen and thirty contracting the STI. It’s extremely contagious and often causes dysuria.
- Gonorrhea. While this type of infection is often lacking in symptoms, it can be detrimental to health if left untreated, resulting in infertility. When symptoms are present, the most common is dysuria.
Other possible causes of burning while urinating
The majority of conditions leading to painful or burning urination are related to one of the above conditions. However, there are other reasons a patient could experience this form of discomfort. For example, certain types of medications are known for causing bladder irritation, such as those that are used in the treatment of cancer. Also, the use of certain hygiene products, especially for women, can lead to pain and burning sensations when urinating. These include certain soaps and perfumes that are used in deodorants and cleansers for the vaginal area, as well as some bubble baths.
Because dysuria is a symptom, it can’t be treated directly. Rather, the underlying cause of dysuria should be determined and treated. For a UTI, relief should be experienced within three or four days of staring a course of antibiotics that clears up the infection. In many cases, STIs can also be treated with antibiotics, though the specific medications should be determined by a physician familiar with the best course of action for any infection.
Some treatment may involve a regular, repeated treatment, such as a specific medication for genital herpes or a prescription to help reduce enlarged prostate.
When it comes to the hygiene products a woman uses, choosing one that doesn’t contain perfumes and other irritants can help relieve symptoms like dysuria and could help with the balance of flora so that yeast infections are less likely to occur as well.
While little can be done about cancer drug therapies, there may be over the counter or prescription pain relievers that assist in dampening the symptoms and offering some relief. This could especially help at night, when the patient needs to sleep. Speaking with the attending oncologist about the therapy and the complication of dysuria may result in a change to the medication to see if there is something that causes less discomfort.