Do you wonder why most people struggle to tell the difference between yeast infection and UTI? Or have you found yourself in the same situation, not knowing how to tell them apart? You’re not alone. Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) and yeast infections have several similarities in terms of symptoms and the areas they affect.
However, you cannot overlook their overwhelming distinctions considering that a UTI is a bacterial infection in the urinary tract while a yeast infection is a fungal infection that manifests through oral thrash or vaginal discomforts. Before we dive into the details, let’s get some definitions right.
What’s A Yeast Infection?
A yeast infection is caused by a type of fungus called Candida albicans. This microorganism lives naturally on your skin and mucous membranes. It can also live in your digestive system but usually stays dormant unless something triggers its growth.
When this happens, it starts producing large amounts of acid, which causes irritation and inflammation in the affected area. The result is a burning sensation or itching. Also, the overgrowth of Candida albicans may cause other problems, such as excessive cheese-like vaginal discharge and pain during urination or intercourse.
What’s A UTI?
Urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria that enter the urinary tract from the skin or anus. They tend to be more common among women than men. These infections are accompanied by fever, chills, backache, pelvic pain, nausea, vomiting, and frequent urination. If left untreated, UTIs can lead to kidney damage and even death.
How Can I Tell The Difference Between Yeast Infection And UTI?
For starters, both infections manifest themselves in similar ways. They can cause vaginal discomfort, including burning, itching, and pain during sex or urination. Additionally, both can cause bladder issues like increased frequency of urination, urgency, and incontinence. To save you further confusion, below are the key differences between UTIs and vaginal yeast infections regarding causes, symptoms, and treatment:
An imbalance of good bacteria in the body triggers yeast infections. This imbalance occurs when the levels of good bacteria decrease and causes overgrowth in the fungus candida. The most common yeast infection triggers are:
- Use of antibiotics: Antibiotics kill both the good and bad bacteria; a decrease in the former paves the way for infections.
- Some hormonal birth control methods: For example, the pill contains estrogen, which encourages yeast growth.
- Poor hygiene: Wiping from back to front after a bowel movement for women encourages the movement of bad bacteria from the anus to the vagina.
- Diabetes: It weakens the immune system.
- Pregnancy: Pregnant women have weak immune systems due to the extra work the body does.
- Tight innerwear or pants: Tight clothing encourages sweating and moisture trapping, which boosts yeast overgrowth.
- Treatment that lowers the immune system: A weak immune system encourages infections.
- Douching or vaginal sprays: These interfere with the PH of the vagina and encourage yeast infections.
On the other hand, UTIs are urethra and bladder infections caused by bacteria that enter the urinary tract through the skin or anus. This aspect best brings out the difference between yeast infection and UTI. Some common triggers for UTIs are:
- Increased sexual activity-Sex opens up the body to infections.
- STI exposure-STIs weaken the immune system and expose your body to UTIs.
- Incomplete emptying of the bladder or holding urine for too long.
- If the urethra comes into contact with stool through wrong wiping or other ways.
- Cases of uncontrolled diabetes-If diabetes isn’t controlled, the immune system weakens further, and the body can hardly fight off infections.
Both yeast infections and UTIs will cause discomfort in the genital area. However, several distinctive symptoms help tell these two infections apart. Below are the main differences between vaginal yeast infections and UTIs:
Some yeast infection symptoms are:
- Thick, cheese-like, and odorless white discharge
- Swollen vulva
- Itchy/irritated vagina and vulva
- Burning sensation during sex due to the sore genital
UTI symptoms include:
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Urgent need to urinate
- Burning sensation and painful urination
- Lower back and lower abdominal pain
- Smelly and cloudy urine, which may contain blood
- Severe UTI causes nausea, chills, and fever
Understanding the difference between yeast infection and UTI helps determine the right treatment method. However, consulting with a doctor is always advisable, even in mild infection cases, to get proper treatment in the form of antibiotics or antifungal medications.
Yeast infection treatment depends on the severity of the infection. Mild cases require topical over-the-counter medication treatments such as creams or lotions. Moderate and severe cases call for oral medications like antifungal tablets or capsules. You can also insert suppositories to get rid of the infection completely.
For UTI treatment, it’s important to consult a medical professional before taking any medication. Your doctor will prescribe the right antibiotic based on your condition and sensitivity toward certain antibiotics.
You can take oral antibiotics or injections depending on your preference or the doctor’s advice. If you have recurrent UTIs, your healthcare provider might suggest using different kinds of antibiotics to prevent future attacks. Untreated UTIs can lead to severe health complications like kidney infections.
How To Prevent UTIs and Yeast Infections
To avoid getting either of these infections, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Wash hands thoroughly before and after going to the bathroom
- Avoid sharing personal items like towels and toothbrushes
- Keep yourself clean and dry because bacteria and fungi thrive in moist environments
- Do not douche or use vaginal sprays, as they increase the chances of getting vaginal infections
- Urinate after sex to reduce the risk of yeast infections and UTIs
- Try non-hormonal contraception methods
- Use probiotics alongside antibiotics to maintain a good body bacteria balance
- Manage diabetes to improve and maintain your immune system
- Wipe correctly, especially if you’re a woman
- Wear breathable underwear
Vaginal yeast infections and UTIs affect men and women but are more common in women. Both can be treated easily, but knowing the difference between yeast infection and UTI is crucial, so you don’t treat the wrong thing. Consult your doctor if you notice any unusual changes in your vaginal area or urinary tract.