Are There Any Complications From A Kidney Infection
Most people who develop a kidney infection make a full recovery if treatment is given promptly. Possible complications which occur in a small number of cases include:
- Sometimes germs from a kidney infection get into the bloodstream, particularly if treatment is delayed. This may cause blood poisoning . This can be serious or even life-threatening.
- In pregnant women who develop pyelonephritis occasionally, it may result in the baby being born early or with a lower birth weight.
- A kidney abscess can develop. This is a collection of pus that forms within the kidney.
- The infection can sometimes cause some permanent damage to kidney tissues.
These complications are uncommon but may be more likely if:
- You become severely ill with the kidney infection.
- You have kidney stones.
- Your immune system is suppressed for example, if you have cancer, if you are taking medication such as steroids or chemotherapy, or if you have AIDS.
- You have poorly controlled diabetes.
- You are an older person .
- You are pregnant.
Emphysematous pyelonephritis is also a rare complication. In this condition the kidney tissues are rapidly destroyed by the infection and the bacteria can release toxic gases which can build up in the kidneys. You become very unwell if you develop this complication. This complication seems mostly to affect people who have poorly controlled diabetes.
What Are The Common Causes Of Urinary Tract Infection
Treatment for kidney infections can vary depending on the cause and severity of an infection. Infections in the urinary tract most commonly occur when bacteria travel through the urethra to the bladder to use urine as food for growth and multiplication. Excess levels of bacteria can lead to infections that, when they migrate to the kidneys, are known as kidney infections.
The most common cause of an infection in the urinary tract is from the bacteria Escherichia coli, also commonly referred to as E.coli. They are found in our colon and feces.
Certain sexually transmitted infections, including chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea, and mycoplasma, can also lead to an infection that spreads to the kidneys. Holding your urine for six hours or more can give time for bacteria that enter the bladder to overgrow without being flushed out, increasing the risk of infection.
Dehydration can also increase the risk of infection. Without the proper fluids, your body can not properly flush out bacteria that can cause urinary tract infections . Constipation, a possible result of dehydration, can make it difficult to empty your bladder and allow trapped bacteria to grow as well.
Infections can also be caused by any condition in the urinary tract that prevents urine from flowing naturally. For instance, pregnant women are likely to get bladder infections when the baby puts pressure on the ureters, slowing urine flow.
Antibiotics For Kidney Infections
Antibiotics are the first line of treatment for kidney infections. The drugs used and the length of time of the treatment depend on your health and the bacteria found in your urine tests.
Symptoms of a kidney infection often begin to clear up within a few days of treatment. But you might need to continue antibiotics for a week or longer. Finish taking the full course of antibiotics even if you start feeling better.
Your provider might want you to have a repeat urine culture test to make sure that the infection has cleared. If the infection is still present, you’ll need to take another course of antibiotics.
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What Are Potential Kidney Infection Complications
Most people recover 100% from a kidney infectionbut there is the possibility of serious complications if one is left untreated. As we mentioned, a kidney infection that doesnt get treated can cause a condition known as sepsis. This happens when your body responds overzealously to an infection, which can lead to a dangerous drop in blood pressure and cause the body to go into shock, according to the NIDDK. This can make your organs fail, which, in the most extreme cases, can lead to death.
Even in non-life-threatening cases, if you have a kidney infection that becomes chronic, you can wind up with permanent kidney damage that can cause problems like kidney disease or high blood pressure. In pregnant people, untreated kidney infections can also increase the risk of having a baby with low birth weight, notes the Mayo Clinic.
All of that sounds scary, but heres whats most important to know: A kidney infection is treatable. Its all about how soon you seek treatment once you start experiencing kidney infection symptoms.
How Are Kidney Infections Treated
The doctor will treat kidney infections with appropriate antibiotics. The urine and blood examination involves finding which antibiotic will work the best in the given infection. If the general condition of the patient is stable, they are given antibiotic pills that can be taken at home. In the case of seriously ill patients or patients with severe vomiting, hospital admission may be done. Such patients are given antibiotics and fluids through the vein . The doctor may give other medications, such as painkillers and antiemetics . A urine culture may be done to know whether the infection has cleared, and the antibiotics may be given for a longer duration if needed.
In patients with problems, such as kidney stones and structural abnormalities of the urinary tract, surgery may be done.
When To Seek Medical Advice
Contact your GP if you have a high temperature, persistent pain, or if you notice a change to your usual pattern of urination. Contact your GP immediately if you think your child may have a kidney infection.
If you have blood in your urine, you should always see your GP so the cause can be investigated.
Your GP can carry out some simple tests to help diagnose a kidney infection.
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Who’s Most Likely To Get A Kidney Infection
Women and children are most at risk of developing a kidney infection, as well as other urinary tract infections such as cystitis.
Other factors can also put you more at risk of developing a kidney infection, including:
- having a condition that blocks, or obstructs, your urinary tract, such as kidney stones or an enlarged prostate children with constipation can also be at an increased risk
- being born with an abnormality in your urinary tract
- having a condition that prevents you emptying your bladder fully, such as an injury to your spinal cord this can allow bacteria in your bladder to multiply and spread
- having a weakened immune system for example, due to type 2 diabetes or as a side effect of chemotherapy
- having an infection of the prostate gland called prostatitis the infection can spread from the prostate gland into the kidneys
- having a urinary catheter
- being female and sexually active sexual intercourse can irritate the urethra and allow bacteria to travel into your bladder
- being pregnant this can cause physical changes that slow the flow of urine out of your body and make it easier for bacteria to spread to the kidneys
- having undergone female genital mutilation an illegal practice where a woman’s genitals are deliberately cut or changed for cultural, religious and social reasons
When Should I Go To The Doctor
A kidney infection can develop quite quickly over a few hours or days, so dont wait to see the doctor. Any of the above symptoms of a UTI or kidney infection should trigger a visit to your doctor for a proper evaluation and diagnosis.
A doctor will analyze a sample of your urine. If you test positive for a kidney infection, youll be prescribed oral antibiotics and, in some cases, a medication that helps relieve pain with urination. If treated promptly, a kidney infection shouldnt cause serious harm.
If you experience a fever over 101°F, pain, are unable to drink or take oral medication along with some of the other symptoms, get to the nearest urgent care or ER. For more serious infections, your doctor may keep you in the hospital for observation with IV antibiotics followed by outpatient oral antibiotics.
After completing the full course of prescribed antibiotics, you should feel better. If you dont, talk to your doctor, as you may need another course of antibiotics.
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Types Of Urinary Tract Conditions
A urinary tract infection refers to an infection in any area of the urinary tract. Conditions that can occur in the urinary tract or with the potential to lead to complicated infections include:
- Urethritis: An inflammation of the urethra, usually caused by an infection for example, a sexually transmitted disease such as chlamydia
- Cystitis: An infection in the bladder that has often moved up from the urethra, also one of the most common UTIs
- Nephritis: Any type of kidney inflammation
- Pyelonephritis: An infection in one or both kidneys
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Can Kidney Infections Be Prevented
Kidney infections can be prevented by keeping bacteria out of the urinary tract and bladder. Infections in the kidney often start as a lower tract infection in the bladder. By preventing these infections, you may be able to prevent kidney infections.
There are several ways to avoid infection and keep your kidneys healthy. These tips can include:
- Hydration: It is important to drink adequate fluid every day but there is no specific recommendation that applies to every patient.. The amount can change if you have certain medical conditions or live in a particularly hot climate. Talk to your healthcare provider about the recommended amount of water you need each day.
- Urinate completely: When you need to urinate, empty your bladder completely. Holding in your urine can be harmful and can promote the growth of bacteria. Urinating every several hours can help to flush any bacteria out of your body, protecting it from an infection.
- Urinate after having sex: Urinating after sex helps to remove any bacteria that may have gotten into the body. Men and women should both do this to prevent infections.
- Practice good hygiene: Keeping yourself clean can help protect your body from infections. After a bowel movement, wipe from front to back to push bacteria away from the urethra . This is especially important for women.
Preventative Care For Urinary Tract Infections
Whether you are at risk of a bladder or kidney infection, methods reducing the likelihood of bacteria entering the urethra and spreading to the bladder are effective ways to prevent either infection from developing.
The primary way to prevent urinary tract infection is to pee when you need to and trying to empty the bladder. Holding urine can lead to bacteria build-up and irritation in the urinary tract.
Staying hydrated is a critical way to ensure frequent flushing of bacteria from the urinary tract. Drinking lots of fluids can prevent constipation from occurring and other irritating kidney infection symptoms.
Fiber-rich foods such as apples and cabbages are also effective preventative measures for constipation. Staying hydrated can also be done by drinking water or tea and avoiding sugary or caffeinated beverages.
Other home remedies include using a heating pad on your belly, back, or side to soothe pains and aches from infections.
Good hygiene also contributes to preventing further infection. Other methods for reducing the risk of infection include:
- Urinate soon after sex, and make sure you practice safe sex in general
- Contraceptive diaphragms prevent proper and complete emptying of the bladder consider switching to different birth control methods
- Women with chronic urinary tract infections may find it helpful to take preventive antibiotic therapy
If you experience any symptoms above, to set up a phone appointment with a top U.S. doctor today.
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Symptoms Of Kidney Infection
Treatments For Kidney Infections
Your doctor may first prescribe a general antibiotic. When the lab results come in, they may switch to a specific antibiotic that treats the type of infection you have. Its common to have antibiotics prescribed for at least two weeks. Its important to complete the antibiotic course so that the infection doesnt return.
If your infection is severe, you may have to be hospitalized. Antibiotics, as well as fluids, may be given through an IV in your arm to ensure the drug will reach the kidneys.
If your infection is due to an underlying medical problem such as kidney stones or an enlarged prostate, you might have to be referred to a specialist for treatment.
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Urine Test For Albumin
If you are at risk for kidney disease, your provider may check your urine for albumin.
Albumin is a protein found in your blood. A healthy kidney doesnt let albumin pass into the urine. A damaged kidney lets some albumin pass into the urine. The less albumin in your urine, the better. Having albumin in the urine is called albuminuria.
A health care provider can check for albumin in your urine in two ways:
Dipstick test for albumin. A provider uses a urine sample to look for albumin in your urine. You collect the urine sample in a container in a health care providers office or lab. For the test, a provider places a strip of chemically treated paper, called a dipstick, into the urine. The dipstick changes color if albumin is present in the urine.
Urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio . This test measures and compares the amount of albumin with the amount of creatinine in your urine sample. Providers use your UACR to estimate how much albumin would pass into your urine over 24 hours. A urine albumin result of
- 30 mg/g or less is normal
- more than 30 mg/g may be a sign of kidney disease
If you have albumin in your urine, your provider may want you to repeat the urine test one or two more times to confirm the results. Talk with your provider about what your specific numbers mean for you.
How Can I Treat A Kidney Infection At Home
Treating kidney infection solely at home or with natural remedies is not a good idea. However, several home remedies can help manage the pain while the infection is treated with antibiotics. These include drinking water, using a heating pad to reduce pain, and taking over-the-counter acetaminophen to manage both pain and fever.
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How Are Kidney Infections Diagnosed
Two common laboratory tests are performed to diagnose kidney infections . A urine sample is examined under a microscope to determine if white and/or red blood cells are present. The urine is also sent to the lab to see if bacteria grow in a urine culture. If a person is very sick, blood cultures may also be sent. The strain of bacteria that are cultured will determine the type of therapy used in your treatment.
Pyelonephritis can often be treated without X-ray studies, unless your doctor suspects there may be an addition problem. CT scans produce images of structures and organs and these scans are usually done without contrast . A renal ultrasound may sometimes suffice for evaluation.
Top Tips To Prevent Further Kidney Infections
Some of the things that may help include the following:
- Dont hold on to urine. Go to the toilet promptly
- Stay well hydrated and make sure you drink plenty of fluids every day
- Constipation can increase your chances of a bladder or kidney infection, so treat constipation promptly
- Empty your bladder after having sex
- Always make sure that you wipe from front to back after going to the toilet
- Avoid using feminine products such as deodorant sprays or douches in your genital area
Kimberly-Clark Australia makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical or other health professional advice.
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What Does A Kidney Infection Feel Like
Generally speaking, the symptoms of a kidney infection tend to come on over a period of several hours to a day. The symptoms may include:
- Pain. This is often a dull, aching type of pain that most commonly affects the back, side, or abdomen.
- Urine changes. If you have a kidney infection, you may notice that your urine is cloudy, smells bad, or contains blood.
- Urgent, painful urination. A UTI can irritate the lining of your urinary tract. As a result, you may feel the urgent need to urinate and experience a painful, burning sensation when you do so.
- Fever. People with a kidney infection typically develop a fever, which can often be high. A raised temperature is one of your bodys ways of trying to fight the infection.
- Chills.Chills are a feeling of being cold without any apparent cause. For example, you could be wrapped up under a blanket and still shiver or feel very cold. In extreme cases, chills may lead to episodes of strong, uncontrollable shaking, which are known as rigors.
- Nausea or vomiting. The infection may cause you to feel nauseated or to vomit.
Its important to note that you may not have all of the above symptoms with a kidney infection. If you develop concerning symptoms that may point to a kidney infection, seek prompt medical care.