Although not a typical symptom, a person with a urinary tract infection (UTI) may experience bloating, particularly with returning UTIs. An imbalance in gut microbiota may also lead to UTIs and gastrointestinal (GI) issues.

A UTI occurs when bacteria infect the urinary system. UTIs can cause pain, discomfort, and urinary problems.

This article looks at whether UTIs can cause bloating, trapped gas, and weight gain. It also looks at other symptoms of UTIs and the treatment, diagnosis, and prevention of the infection.

Finally, it discusses when to speak with a doctor and what else may cause bloating and frequent urination.

A glass of cranberry juice -1.Share on Pinterest
Mark L Edwards/Getty Images

UTIs can be either complicated or uncomplicated. The NIDDK does not list bloating as a typical symptom of an uncomplicated UTI. However, a person may experience bloating due to:

  • The body’s immune response to the infection: Inflammation is a part of the body’s immune response to an infection, such as a UTI. Inflammation of the bladder, urinary tract, and surrounding organs may result in an uncomfortable feeling of fullness, pain, and pressure.
  • Antibiotic treatment: Doctors typically treat UTIs with antibiotics. Antibiotics may cause several side effects, including GI issues like bloating, diarrhea, and indigestion.

Gut microbiome

There may be a link between UTIs and some GI symptoms. According to one 2022 study, those who experienced returning UTIs often reported GI symptoms, such as bloating, flatulence, constipation, or diarrhea.

Researchers of another small 2022 study believe that GI symptoms alongside UTIs could connect to the balance of a person’s gut bacteria, or the gut microbiome.

The level of bacteria diversity in the gut may affect a person’s immune response to UTIs. The small 2022 study found that women with less diversity in their gut microbiota experienced returning UTIs.

A type of E. coli bacteria in the gut is responsible for most UTIs. Disruption of gut microbiota may influence how well a person’s immune system can prevent the bacteria from infecting the urinary tract.

Disruptions and imbalances of bacteria in the gut may also lead to GI symptoms like bloating and gas.

Emphysematous cystitis

Emphysematous cystitis (EC), a rare type of UTI, may cause gas to build up in and around the bladder wall, which may also cause bloating.

The condition can cause pneumaturia, which refers to passing air in the urine. Inflammation and the buildup of gas from EC may cause bloating.

Some research associates the infection with diabetes, and it is potentially life threatening.

UTIs do not typically lead to weight gain.

One 2015 study involving pregnant people found no significant association between UTIs and weight gain during pregnancy.

However, if a person experiences bloating during a UTI due to inflammation or GI issues, they may feel as if they have gained weight due to distention in the belly. Clothing may feel tighter around the abdomen, and the area may appear enlarged and swollen.

Although UTIs may not cause weight gain, the imbalance in gut bacteria that contributes to UTIs may affect a person’s weight. Gut bacteria have an effect on how the body digests food and can influence when a person feels full.

Imbalances in gut microbiota may both affect a person’s ability to clear out infections, such as UTIs, and influence weight gain.

Other symptoms of UTIs include:

  • a frequent urge to urinate
  • a sudden or urgent need to urinate
  • the need to urinate more often than usual during the night
  • a burning or painful sensation during urination
  • cloudy, dark, or strong-smelling urine
  • pain in the lower abdomen

Treatment for a UTI typically involves a course of antibiotics and an over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication if necessary.

For someone who has returning UTIs, a doctor may prescribe a long-term, low dose course of antibiotics.

They may also suggest drinking more hydrating fluids and taking supplements like cranberry supplements and D-mannose, a type of sugar present in various fruits and vegetables.

Doctors may also prescribe estrogen vaginal cream to postmenopausal people.

A doctor will usually diagnose a UTI by asking questions about a person’s symptoms and performing a urine test.

They may also culture the urine. If a person has UTIs that return, a doctor may also use diagnostic imaging such as an ultrasound.

Various ways can help a person reduce the chance of developing a UTI. These include:

  • urinating after sexual intercourse
  • cleaning the genital area before and after sexual intercourse
  • emptying the bladder fully during urination
  • drinking 6–8 glasses of hydrating liquid daily
  • wearing loose-fitting clothing to help keep the genital area dry
  • switching to a new method of birth control if UTIs return

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person can also help prevent UTIs by:

  • taking showers instead of baths
  • avoiding douching
  • wiping from front to back after going to the bathroom, for those with vaginas
  • minimizing the use of powders or sprays in the genital area

Without treatment, a UTI can result in a severe kidney infection.

It is a good idea for a person to speak with a doctor if they have symptoms of a UTI to prevent the infection from worsening or spreading to the kidneys.

Individuals should urgently get medical attention if they have symptoms of a UTI and experience:

Many potential causes of bloating and frequent urination exist. These include:

Some people with UTIs may experience bloating. This could be due to inflammation, antibiotic use to treat the infection, or an imbalance of gut microbiota involved in gut and urinary health.

A rare type of UTI, called EC, can also result in bloating by causing inflammation and a buildup of gas in the bladder wall.

UTIs may not typically cause weight gain, but bloating in the abdomen can cause the feeling or appearance of weight gain. An imbalance of gut microbiota may also influence both weight gain and the development and return of UTIs.

A UTI may develop into a severe kidney infection without treatment. To reduce the chance of this, it is advisable for an individual to speak with a doctor if they have symptoms so they can receive prompt treatment.