At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
In medicine, urinary burning is a painful sensation, usually described as burning or stinging, which occurs when the patient passes urine. It is most often a symptom of a urinary tract infection (UTI), although there can be many different root causes of urinary burning. The proper medical term for urinary burning is dysuria.
Urinary problems that are characterized by urinary pain as the main symptom include the bladder infection known as cystitis, some sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia, and, in men, various disorders affecting the prostate. Cystitis is a condition that is particularly common in women, and usually occurs when bacteria that normally inhabit the digestive system get into the urinary tract, and from there into the bladder. This type of infection is nearly always accompanied by urinary burning.
Infections leading to urinary burning in women most often result from improper toilet hygiene. As the openings to the bowel and the urinary system are so close together in female anatomy, it is important for girls and women to always wipe from front to back after using the toilet. If wiping is performed from back to front then bacteria may be easily transferred to the urinary system. In addition to correct toilet hygiene, urinating soon after having sex may help to prevent urinary infections.
If a patient experiences frequent urinary tract infections, and tests negative for the various sexually transmitted diseases that could be implicated, a doctor may need to check the physical internal urinary tract. Certain types of physical problems in the urinary tract may prevent the patient from completely emptying his or her bladder. This kind of physical problem may be present at birth, and can lead to chronic urinary tract infection.
Treatment of urinary burning depends on the diagnosis of the root cause. When the symptom first occurs, some self-help measures can be tried at home. It is often recommended to drink more water at the first sign of urinary burning. This may help flush out any bacteria from the bladder and urinary tract. Other recommendations include avoiding coffee and alcohol, which may exacerbate the irritation.
If urinary burning persists for more than a day, then it is generally advisable to consult a doctor. Usually, a urine sample will be tested to check for the presence of bacteria that may be at the root of the infection. Antibiotics or other treatments may then be prescribed.