Difference Between Yeast Infection, Kidney Infection, Bladder Infection & UTI

January 23, 2018
Yeast Infection or Kidney Infection

Commonly confused for one another, yeast infections, bladder infections, kidney infections, and urinary tract infections (UTIs) are similar and different in some key ways. It’s important to understand these differences, so you can get appropriate treatment when necessary and avoid potential serious complications. Before diving into the details of these conditions, it’s essential to note that kidney infections and bladder infections are actually types of UTIs, which can affect any part of the urinary system including the bladder, urethra, ureters, and kidneys.

Yeast Infections

A yeast infection (candidiasis) happens when there is an overgrowth of the fungus Candida, which lives inside the body in areas like the mouth, throat, gut, and vagina as well as on moist areas of the skin. Yeast infections can occur in any of these locations on the body, though vaginal yeast infections are the most common—the Office on Women’s Health estimates that 75% of all women will have at least one vaginal yeast infection in their lifetime. However, men can get genital yeast infections too, which are often called penile yeast infections or candida balanitis.

Yeast Infection Causes

Again, the Candida fungus is always present on the skin and within the body. It only causes a problem when conditions allow for an overgrowth of the fungus, which leads to symptoms. There are certain factors that can contribute to developing yeast infections, such as:

  • Having a weakened immune system
  • Recent antibiotic use, even for an unrelated infection
  • Being pregnant
  • Having uncontrolled diabetes
  • Using estrogen-heavy hormonal birth control
  • Using douches or vaginal sprays
  • Wearing tight underwear or clothing that promotes a moist, warm environment
  • Being overweight
  • Having difficulty cleaning yourself
  • Using steroids
  • Having unprotected sex with a partner who has a yeast infection

Yeast Infection Symptoms

Vaginal yeast infection symptoms often include:

  • Soreness or itchiness of the vagina and/or vulva
  • Pain or burning while urinating or having sex
  • Clumpy, odorless white discharge with a consistency like cottage cheese

For men, symptoms of a genital yeast infection may include:

  • Itching, burning, redness, swelling, or a moist feeling on the foreskin or tip of the penis
  • Cottage cheese-like discharge that may smell unpleasant or like bread
  • Sores or white patches on the skin
  • Difficulty getting or maintaining an erection

Yeast Infection Treatment

Topical antifungal medications are typically effective for eliminating yeast infections. If you don’t see an improvement after using an over-the-counter medication, see a medical provider as soon as possible.

Yeast Infection Prevention

There are several steps you can take to help prevent genital yeast infections, including:

  • Staying hydrated
  • Not delaying urination (don’t “hold it” for too long)
  • Urinating before and after sex
  • Avoiding using douches, vaginal sprays, and any scented products on the genitals
  • Changing out period products like pads and tampons regularly
  • Changing out of wet swimsuits and sweaty exercise clothing as soon as possible
  • Wearing loose-fitting clothing


Urinary tract infections occur when bacteria enter the body through the urethra. As mentioned above, UTIs can affect any part of the urinary system, so kidney infections and bladder infections are simply specific types of UTIs. Females are more prone to UTIs than males due to having shorter urethras.

UTI Causes

UTIs are commonly caused by the bacteria E. coli, which is commonly found in the gastrointestinal tract. For women, the urethra is located near the anus, which means that E. coli bacteria can enter the urinary system relatively easily and cause an infection. Having sex can also cause UTIs, and using certain birth control methods and being postmenopausal can both increase your risk of developing a UTI.

UTI Symptoms

Depending on where the UTI is located, you may experience different symptoms.

Urethra Infection Symptoms:

  • Burning sensation with urination
  • Unusual discharge

Bladder Infection Symptoms:

  • Pelvic pressure
  • Frequent, painful urination
  • Blood in the urine
  • Discomfort in the lower abdomen

Kidney Infection Symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • High fever
  • Pain in the back or flanks
  • Chills and shaking

Left untreated, kidney infections can lead to permanent kidney damage. The bacteria can also spread to the bloodstream and cause a life-threatening infection. If you show any signs of a kidney infection, it’s important to seek medical attention right away.

UTI Treatment

Oral antibiotics are typically used to treat all types of UTIs. For frequent UTIs, you may be prescribed a long-term, low-dose antibiotic or an antibiotic that you take after sex. Severe UTIs—especially kidney infections—may require IV antibiotics.

UTI Prevention

There are several steps you can take to lower the risk of developing a UTI, including:

  • Staying hydrated and urinating often
  • Wiping from front to back after using the toilet
  • Urinating before and after sex
  • Avoiding products that can irritate the urethra, such as deodorant sprays, powders, and douches
  • Choosing a birth control method other than diaphragms, unlubricated condoms, and condoms with spermicide

Yeast Infections vs. UTIs: How to Tell the Difference

UTIs affect the urinary system, so if you constantly feel like you need to urinate, have discolored or foul-smelling urine, and experience pain with urination, you likely have a UTI. 

For women, genital yeast infections affect the vagina and vulva, causing itchiness, swelling, and pain. You may experience painful urination with a yeast infection, but it typically also causes a thick, clumpy, and odorless discharge that you generally wouldn’t see with a UTI. For men, itchiness, sores or white patches, and unusual discharge may indicate a yeast infection.

Visit PhysicianOne Urgent Care Today for Yeast Infection & UTI Treatment

If you aren’t sure whether you have a yeast infection or a UTI (or another condition), visit PhysicianOne Urgent Care for prompt testing and treatment. We are open 365 days per year with extended hours, and we offer integrated 24/7 virtual telehealth services if you’d rather speak to a provider from the comfort of your home. Walk-ins are welcome, or you can reserve your place in line ahead of time with our online booking tool. We accept all major insurances, offer reasonable self-pay rates, and never require referrals.

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