Kidney infection occurs when bacteria from the urinary tract move up the urethra and infect one or both kidneys. Kidney infections are more frequent in people who already have a bladder infection, in women, and in pregnant women. They are frequently uncomfortable and, if not treated immediately, can be fatal. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience symptoms such as discomfort on the sides of your lower back, chills, fever, or pain while urinating (i.e., peeing). If not treated with antibiotics or other medications, it can lead to irreversible kidney failure or spread to other parts of the body.
Kidney Infection Symptoms
A kidney infection may cause the following signs and symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Pus or blood in your urine (hematuria)
- Frequent urination
- Strong, persistent urge to urinate
- Burning sensation during urination
- Foul smell or cloudy urination
- Back, side (flank) or groin pain
- Nausea and vomiting
When To See The Doctor?
Make an appointment with your doctor if you see any alarming signs or symptoms. Schedule an appointment if you're being treated for a urinary tract infection but the symptoms aren't improving. If a person does not seek medical care, major consequences may occur. If a person is experiencing:
- Persistent pain in the mid to lower back or side
- Feeling shivery or feverish
- Having nausea or feeling generally ill
A severe kidney infection might result in fatal consequences.
Doctors at Medicover can help you get the right treatment for any kidney disease and infections.
Causes and Risk Factors
Bacteria are normally washed out by the passage of urine. However, a number of factors might raise the risk of a kidney infection. These issues may include:
- Structural abnormalities that obstruct urine flow like strictures, stents,stones, and surgery.
- Compressed urethra by an enlarged prostate gland.
- Urine backflow (reflux) from the bladder to the kidneys.
- If the immune system is weak due to low white blood cell count, use of certain medications, HIV, cancer, or an organ transplant.
- During pregnancy, the expanding uterus can squeeze the ureters and restrict urine flow, allowing bacteria to move to the kidneys.
- Diabetes mellitus that is uncontrollable.
A kidney infection can affect anybody, however, the following factors make it more likely:
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs): 1 out of each 30 UTIs leads to a kidney infection.
- Being female: Because the urethra in women is shorter than in males, women are more susceptible to kidney infections. This makes germs more likely to enter the urinary system. Moreover, in women, the urethra is closer to the vagina and anus, allowing germs to move more easily to the urinary system.
- Pregnancy: The urinary system changes during pregnancy, making it easier for germs to enter the kidneys.
- Weak immune system: People with diabetes, HIV or AIDS, and those using immune-suppressing medicines all have weakened immune systems.
- Damage to the spinal cord or bladder nerve damage: This might prevent you from detecting the symptoms of a UTI, which could progress to kidney infection.
- Problem in completely emptying your bladder: This is known as urine retention. People with spina bifida or multiple sclerosis are also at risk.
- Urine backup: It is when urine backs up into one or both of your kidneys rather than the typical one-way outflow. It's known as vesicoureteral reflux, and it's most frequent in youngsters.
- Problems with your urinary tract's shape.
- A cystoscope is a device used to examine the bladder.
There may be serious consequences if the infection goes unchecked or is untreated:
- You may permanently harm your kidneys, resulting in chronic renal disease or, in rare cases, kidney failure.
- Bacteria from your kidneys might poison the bloodstream, resulting in potentially fatal sepsis.
- It is possible to develop renal scarring or excessive blood pressure, although this is uncommon.
- If you are pregnant and have a kidney infection, the baby is more likely to be underweight.
Prevent urinary tract infections to lower your risk of kidney infection. Women, in particular, can lower their risk of urinary tract infections by doing the following:
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. When you urinate, fluids can help eliminate bacteria from your body.
- You should urinate wherever you need to. When you need to pee, don't put off doing so.
- After intercourse, empty the bladder. Urinating as soon after intercourse helps clear bacteria from the urethra, lowering the chance of infection.
- Wipe carefully. Wiping from front to back after peeing and after a bowel movement aids in the prevention of germs spreading to the urethra.
- Use of feminine products in the vaginal region should be avoided. It may be unpleasant to use deodorant sprays or douches on the vaginal area.
A physician would often review a person's medical history for health issues that are associated with a kidney infection. Diagnostic techniques may include the following:
- Physical examination: A doctor will do a physical examination to assess a person's overall health, including heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, symptoms of dehydration, and respiration rate. A doctor will look for discomfort, sensitivity, or soreness in the mid to lower back.
- Rectal examination: If a person is male, a doctor may do a digital rectal examination to check for an enlarged prostate that is obstructing the neck of the bladder.
- Pelvic examination: If the patient is a young female, the doctor may do a pelvic examination to determine whether she has the asymptomatic pelvic inflammatory disease. A pregnancy test may also be required for a female.
- Urine sample: A mid-stream urine sample will be collected in a dedicated container for lab examination. An infection might be indicated if the urine sample contains bacteria and white blood cells. Symptoms and test data can both aid in diagnosis.
- Imaging: Imaging of the kidney area, such as a CT scan, MRI scan, or ultrasound, may be performed by a doctor.
- The severity of the kidney infection will decide the treatment methods to cure the condition.
- Oral antibiotics are the initial option for the treatment of minor infections. Your doctor will give you antibiotic medications to take at home. Once the results of your urine tests show that you have a bacterial infection, you may be given a different antibiotic.
- Antibiotics are generally required to be taken for two or more weeks. Following treatment, the doctor will order more urine cultures to ensure that the infection is gone and has not reappeared. You may need another round of antibiotics if required.
- If you have a more serious infection, your doctor may admit you to the hospital for IV antibiotics and fluids.
- Surgery may be required to repair a blockage or an abnormal shape in your urinary system. This will aid in the prevention of future kidney infections.
Lifestyle Changes and Selfcare
One could do the following to reduce discomfort when recovering from a kidney infection:
- Apply heat: To relieve discomfort, use a heating pad on the abdomen, back, or side.
- Use pain medicine: Take a nonaspirin pain medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen for fever or discomfort (Motrin IB, Advil, others).
- Stay hydrated: Fluids will help in eliminating bacteria from your urinary system. Coffee and alcohol should be avoided until your infection has cleared. These items may increase the need to urinate.
Dos and Don’ts
Did you know that your kidneys are one of the five vital organs for your survival? Knowing this, it's startling to learn that one in every hundred people has some sort of kidney disease. Given the following, it is important that you make an effort to keep the kidneys working properly. While regular health screenings and checkups are essential, here are some Dos and Don'ts for kidney health.
|Drink lots of water||Have sexual intercourse till the condition improves|
|Take cranberry juice as a supplement||Drink alcohol or excess caffeine|
|Empty the bladder whenever needed||Eat artificial sweeteners and use artificial food colours in the food|
|Take probiotics recommended by the doctor||Discontinue the course of antibiotics in between|
Take care of yourself and be strong inside to fight this condition.
Care at Medicover
At Medicover Hospital, we have the best team of Urologists who can provide patients with the most comprehensive treatment for kidney infections and aliments. To treat all types of kidney diseases and reduce recurrences, our highly skilled staff use cutting-edge diagnostic methods and other advanced technologies. We start with the correct diagnosis, education of the patient for self-care, and continue the treatment with scheduled follow-ups for better tracking and monitoring of the condition.