Most things that people come down with are relatively benign, like the common cold, a sore throat, or a rash. These illnesses have the usual symptoms everyone is familiar with, and while annoying, they generally aren't anything to worry about and may not even require treatment.

When people have an unfamiliar symptom, especially one that causes pain, then it's natural to worry. Suddenly having a burning sensation when urinating is one of those symptoms. Here's a look at what this could mean.

Urinary Tract Infection

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is perhaps the most common reason you may be having burning when urinating. This condition is especially common in women as their urethra is only an inch or so long, in contrast to a man, whose anatomy provides several inches to keep bacteria out.

When bacteria enter the urethra, it can find its way to the bladder, ureters, and kidneys. A UTI is painful, but it isn't a huge concern. However, it must be treated with antibiotics as a UTI that reaches the kidneys can be dangerous and will make you quite sick.  

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Not something most people want to consider, and many people will think this isn't a concern they need to worry about. Unfortunately, some sexually transmitted diseases are good at laying dormant and not causing symptoms for a while.

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease that often doesn't initially present with any symptoms. In fact, 75 percent of women and 50 percent of men will have no symptoms. That makes this bacterial infection easy to unknowingly spread to others. Gonorrhea is another sexually transmitted disease that is possible to have and not know it. Genital herpes is yet another as the cold sore-like lesions won't appear until a few weeks after exposure. Eventually, however, the bacteria that causes chlamydia or gonorrhea and the virus that causes genital herpes will usually begin causing symptoms, and painful urination is one of the most common signs.

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones aren't caused by bacteria or viruses. Rather, they are caused by minerals and salt crystals that bind together and form hard little stones. Chronic dehydration can lead to kidney stones as it concentrates the urine, but there are other causes as well.

Kidney stones can cause burning on urination, the urgent need to urinate frequently, and reduced urine output. Kidney stones are also incredibly painful for most people, especially men as they do have that much longer urethra to travel through. Kidney stones will also cause general malaise. Most people require prescription pain medication.

If you have burning when urinating, it's important to see a doctor immediately. This is not a symptom that can wait a few days until your regular physician can get you in. For this reason, you should head to your nearest urgent care clinic.