It is difficult for people to differentiate between UTI vs yeast infection. While most of the symptoms of UTI and yeast infection may overlap, their causes, treatment, and complications are different. Some people may just experience a few symptoms but they are enough for your doctor to diagnose you accurately.
However, it is better to know which of the two conditions you may have before your doctor’s appointment. In this blog, we will discuss what you can expect from your appointment with your doctor when you present with symptoms that may look like either of the two conditions.
What is a UTI?
UTI stands for urinary tract infection. The urinary tract includes the kidneys, ureter, urinary bladder, and urethra. Inflammation or infection of any of these parts of the urinary tract presents with mild to extreme symptoms of discomfort during urination along with a fever, nausea, or even chills. UTIs are mostly a result of bacterial infection and are more likely to occur in women of all ages. This is because the urethra in females is shorter than that in males and the bacteria can pass easily to any part of the urinary tract in no time.
With over half of the world’s female population likely to develop a urinary tract infection at some point in their life, it is best to know when your symptoms require immediate medical attention.
What is a Yeast Infection?
Yeast infections are generally associated with the vagina, seldom affecting the anus, gut, mouth, penis, or another moist part of the body. Vaginal yeast infections are also referred to as vaginal thrush or candidiasis. Similar to UTIs, women who are pregnant, use douches or vaginal sprays, use high-dosage birth control, have uncontrolled diabetes, or any other chronic illness that weakens their immune system are at a greater risk of developing a yeast infection.
Causes of a UTI vs Yeast Infection
The most common bacteria causing a urinary tract infection include
- Escherichia coli
- Klebsiella pneumonia
- Staphylococcus saprophyticus
A person is likely to have any of these bacteria enter their system via certain contraceptive methods, such as diaphragms or spermicides, poor hygiene, or wiping from back to front after defecating, which causes the fecal matter to enter the vaginal opening. Unprotected sexual activity or not urinating before and after sexual intercourse could also lead to a UTI. Pregnancies, obesity, kidney or bladder stones, post-menopause in women, long-term use of catheters, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses that weaken the immune system could also predispose a urinary tract infection. The causes of UTI include:
- Exposure to sexually transmitted infections
- Fecal contact
- Holding in pee or not fully emptying the bladder when you urinate
On the other hand, the causes of a yeast infection are more diverse and do not necessarily result from increased or unprotected sexual activity. Yeast infections are a result of the fungus Candida that builds up in moist areas of skin, such as the vagina. Its non-bacterial causes include:
- Changes to the immune system, which may be a result of stress, illnesses, pregnancy, or other complications that foster the yeast infection
- High blood sugar, seen especially in patients with poorly managed diabetes
- Hormonal changes, such as in puberty or during pregnancy
- Medications such as birth control pills, steroids, and certain antibiotics
- Wearing restrictive or tight underwear or pants prevents ventilation and contributes to increased moisture in the vaginal area.
Symptoms of UTI vs Yeast Infection
The easiest way to identify a urinary tract infection from a yeast infection is to know about their respective symptoms. While a doctor will be able to give you the best diagnosis according to your symptoms, having some knowledge regarding what you are experiencing may give you a heads-up on what to expect.
Patients suffering from UTI may present with symptoms such as:
- Blood found in urine is characterized by red or pink pee
- Discomfort during peeing commonly presents as a painful or burning sensation
- Discolored or cloudy urine
- Extremely small volumes of urine are excreted every time you urinate
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Pelvic pain, specifically around the pubic bone or in the center of the pelvis
- Strong or pungent-smelling urine
It is easy to confuse a yeast infection with UTI since both conditions present similar symptoms. However, a few characteristics of yeast infection cannot be found in UTIs. They include, but are not limited to:
- A burning sensation during sex
- Pain in the vagina along with soreness
- Thick, white, and odor-free discharge with a consistency similar to that of cottage cheese
- Vaginal rash
- The vulva becomes red and sore
- Watery discharge
In some cases of yeast infection, you may be able to treat it by using a regular dosage of over-the-counter (OTC) medications. However, if your symptoms persist after you have completed your dose, you should check in with your doctor.
UTI vs. Yeast Infection – Treatment
Owing to great scientific struggle, UTIs and yeast infections are both easily treatable. Doctors usually suggest antibiotics for UTIs. The course of the antibiotics depends on how mild or severe your symptoms are. Like any other antibiotic medications, the ones prescribed for urinary tract infections also need to be taken regularly at one specific time. Once your dosage is completed, you will see your symptoms start to subside. Once the symptoms are fully gone, that is how you know your UTI has been treated completely. Other medications for UTIs need necessarily not be antibiotics.
Since yeast infections are fungal, they do not respond to antibiotics. Instead, mild versions of a yeast infection can be successfully treated with over-the-counter antifungal medications. These are available in multiple forms, including
- Oral tablets
While mild yeast infections may resolve in their own time, it is best to consult a doctor before resorting to self-medication. Some severe cases of yeast infection may require prescription medications and show effective results after completion of the course.
Preventing Yeast Infection vs UTI
The prevention guide for UTI vs yeast infection is mostly the same. To prevent the occurrence of either of the conditions, keep the following in mind.
- Avoid tight or fitted clothing
- Avoid using douches, scented feminine products, or vaginal sprays
- Avoid wearing wet swimsuits or gym clothing for long periods
- Maintain sanitary health and change sanitary pads regularly
- Stay hydrated
- Urinate before and after sex
- Urinate as soon as the need arises and refrain from holding it in
- Wipe from front to back after bowel movements
See Also: Hormonal Imbalance In Males And Females
It is common to confuse UTIs with yeast infections. In many cases, yeast infections may also be confused with ovarian cysts, interstitial cysts (IC), or bacterial vaginosis. The best approach to getting the right treatment is consulting your doctor and getting a diagnosis for your symptoms before taking any over-the-counter or OTC drugs. Self-diagnosis or self-medication should be avoided at any cost to prevent any further complications to your persisting symptoms.
While some people resort to prescription or OTC medications to find a treatment for their UTI or yeast infections, others prefer at-home remedies such as unsweetened cranberry juice. Regardless of whichever method you choose to treat yourself, consult a doctor first. At Family Medicine Austin, we offer comprehensive preventive and diagnostic disease management care for you and your family! Reach out to us today and avail our full spectrum of healthcare.