Urinary Burning

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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What is urinary burning?

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).

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.

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 other symptoms might occur with urinary burning?

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 symptoms that may occur along with urinary burning

Urinary burning may accompany other symptoms affecting the urinary tract including:

Other symptoms that may occur along with urinary burning

Urinary burning may accompany symptoms related to other body systems including:

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life threatening condition

In some cases, urinary burning may be a symptom of 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:

What causes urinary burning?

Infections, inflammation, and trauma are all causes of urinary burning.

Infectious causes of urinary burning

Urinary burning may be caused by infections including:

  • Candidiasis (yeast infection)

  • Sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea or Chlamydia

  • Urinary tract infections

Other causes of urinary burning

Urinary burning can also be caused by:

Serious or life-threatening causes of urinary burning

In some cases, urinary burning may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These include pelvic inflammatory disease (PID, an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs).

Questions for diagnosing the cause of urinary burning

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your urinary burning including:

  • How long have you felt burning when you urinate?

  • Do you have any other symptoms?

  • Do you have urinary burning after eating or drinking certain items?

  • Is your urine discolored or bloody?

  • What medications are you taking?

What are the potential complications of urinary burning?

Because urinary burning can be caused by serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Chronic pain

  • Infertility

  • Sepsis (life-threatening bacterial blood infection)

  • Spread of infection

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Jan 10
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Urinary tract infections in adults. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC). http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/utiadult/.
  2. Urinary tract infection - adults. PubMed Health, a service of the NLM from the NIH. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001549/.