Burning when you urinate can range from annoying to truly painful. The medical term for burning on urination is dysuria. Although dysuria is a symptom rather than a disease, it is not something you should ignore, as several potentially serious conditions could cause dysuria. There are a number of causes for urinary burning ranging from infections to what and how much you eat or drink.
Dysuria is more common in women, and young women in particular tend to have more of a problem with dysuria, possibly because younger women also tend to be more sexually active. Older men may develop dysuria if they suffer from prostate enlargement. A urinary tract infection is the most common cause of dysuria in both genders, but other conditions such as prostatitis, kidney stones, frequent sexual activity, cancers and some foods and beverages can also cause dysuria.
One of the first considerations in dysuria is whether your fluid intake is sufficient. Dehydration concentrates the urine, which can make it dark yellow and cause a strong smell. The concentrated urine can cause dysuria. Although any kind of fluid is helpful, the Mayo Clinic recommends you first ensure your water intake is 60 to 64 oz. per day, and then drink other fluids as desired. People who sweat heavily because of exercise or being outdoors when it's hot may need to drink more.
Caffeine and Alcohol
Foods or beverages that have diuretic effects can be irritating to the bladder. Caffeine can be a bladder irritant and can also cause bladder spasms. Caffeine is also a mild diuretic, which means it tends to increase the amount of urine you produce, and leads to a need to urinate more frequently. You may find that if you cut back on caffeine, your dysuria will get better or go away. Alcohol is another beverage that acts as a diuretic and may make dysuria worse.
Foods and Dysuria
Acidic foods can increase the acid content of urine and make it burn when you urinate. According to the Mayo Clinic, citrus fruits such as lemons, orange, grapefruits and limes may irritate your bladder and cause dysuria. Tomatoes, which are an acidic fruit, can also cause problems. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends that if your dysuria is related to a urinary tract infection, try to identify and eliminate food allergens, such as dairy products, wheat or corn. Other foods or food-related products that can irritate the bladder include carbonated drinks, corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, chocolate, coffee and tea.
Burning when you urinate could be simple dehydration or it could be a symptom of something more serious. Cancer, kidney stones and prostatitis are conditions that should be treated early. If increasing your water intake doesn't clear up the problem within a day or two, consult a health care professional.