How long can a urinary tract infection be brewing inside you before symptoms first start appearing?

A key symptom of a UTI is a pain or burning when voiding.

Other symptoms may be frequent urges to urinate yet voiding little; and phantom urges – when nothing comes out.

There may also be back, abdominal, pelvic and/or groin discomfort.

“It’s important to know what the definition of UTI is,” begins Michael Ingber, MD, board certified in urology, female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery, and founder of The Center for Specialized Women’s Health, division of Garden State Urology.

“A lot of women come in and say, ‘My doctor tells me I have UTI’s every time I come in.’

“However, if there are no symptoms, by definition, this is not a UTI.”

Even if a urinalysis shows the presence of bacteria or white blood cells, this is not diagnosed as a UTI if the patient reports no relevant symptoms.

Dr. Ingber continues, “Some people have chronic bacteria in their urine, and this is not necessarily an ‘infection.’

“When the bacteria ends up affecting the bladder lining and causes inflammation, pain, urgency, burning, this is what we call ‘infection.’

“Again, to clarify: The American Urological Association (AUA) and the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) both require symptoms to be present to claim ‘UTI.’”

So what this means is that you will not be diagnosed with a urinary tract infection in the absence of symptoms or before symptoms start.

However, another good question is for how long can one have subtle symptoms that don’t really get noticed – from a UTI – before that individual then begins realizing, “Hey, I keep feeling the urge to go,” or, “It stings when I pee”?

Dr. Ingber explains, “Some of our patients can have vague symptoms which last for days, weeks or even months before getting sick.”

Dr. Ingber is board-certified in Urology and Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery; is a Fellow of the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health. The Center for Specialized Women’s Health, division of Garden State Urology & Atlantic Medical Group.
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Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  



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