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What is Dysuria?

written by: Margo • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 12/20/2009

Dysuria is a mostly harmless, though uncomfortable, condition that is most commonly referred to as simply painful urination.

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    What is dysuria? It is the technical name for painful urination, and it can be caused by a number of factors, including a urinary tract infection or a kidney problem. It is most common in females, but can affect men as well.

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    Causes

    Dysuria can be a result of several different things. The most common cause for women is a urinary tract infection; for men, it is usually the result of a prostate condition or urethritis, or inflamation of the urethra. It may also be caused by bladder stones or infection, kidney infection, or a sexually transmitted disease, such as chlamydia or genital herpes. Other causes include a yeast infection or vaginitis. Dehydration or the use of some personal care products can also lead to this condition. Dysuria may also be a symptom of cancer in the urethra, especially if it is paired with blood in the urine.

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    Symptoms and Diagnosis

    The most common symptom of dysuria is pain while urinating. It has also been described as burning or simply general discomfort. Other symptoms vary based on the cause of the condition, and may include frequent urination, pain near the bladder, loss of bladder control, foul smelling vaginal discharge or pain during intercourse. Fever, chills, pain or irritation near the opening of the urethra, and even discharge from the urethra itself may also be a signs of dysuria.

    The diagnosis of dysuria involves a clinical evaluation to check for any visual signs of the cause of the condition. A urine test will be used to check for a bladder infection, and a swab may be taken of any unusual discharge. Testing for STDs may also be performed. Depending on your symptoms, the physician may also perform a blood test to look for bacterial causes. During the appointment, the physician will ask about your sexual habits, diet and the history and range of symptoms, to help pinpoint the exact cause of the painful urination.

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    Treatment

    Although dysuria itself is not dangerous, the underlying condition may be. It is important to seek treatment for this condition. Because it is often the result of bacteria, the most common treatment is an antibiotic. This will clear up painful urination caused by vaginitis, urethritis, a bladder or kidney infection, and most STDs. An anti-fungal medication will be prescribed or recommended for cases caused by a yeast infection. With the use of antibiotics, the underlying cause of this condition should be cleared up within 10-14 days.

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    Complications

    Because most of the causes of dysuria aren't dangerous on their own with treatment, there are very few complications associated with this condition. In untreated cases, however, the infection causing the condition may spread to other parts of the body. This can lead to very serious health problems. Knowing the answer to the question "what is dysuria?", along with knowing the symptoms of this condition, can help to prevent a easily treated problem from becoming something much more serious.

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    Resources

    Dysuria: Approach to the Genitourinary Patient. http://www.merck.com/mmpe/sec17/ch226/ch226f.html#sec17-ch226-ch226f-132 Accessed December 2009.

    Painful Urination (Dysuria) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/painful-urination/MY00734. Accessed December 2009.

    Dysuria: What is it? http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-information/dysuria-what-is-it.aspx. Accessed December 2009.