Differentiating Kidney Stones From A Urinary Tract Infection
It can be concerning to experience pain down there. Many questions of what could be causing the pain and discomfort run circles in your mind. Your first move might be calling your primary care doctor and declaring you have a UTI. Stop right there the symptoms of UTIs and kidney stones can be similar, but treatment is very different. In this article, we will be discussing the similarities and differences between the two and when you should go see a doctor.
What Are Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are hard objects created by chemicals in the urine1. Kidney stones can vary in size, and while some bring major pain, other people may not even know a kidney stone is present.
The symptoms of kidney stones include1:
- Severe pain on either side of your lower back
- More vague pain or stomach ache that doesnt go away
- Blood in the urine
- Fever and chills
- Urine that smells bad or looks cloudy
Because kidney stones form in the urinary tract, if they get to a size they cause a blockage, it could lead to a UTI.
What Is The Difference Between A Bladder Infection And A Kidney Infection
Kidney and bladder infections are both considered urinary tract infections. Although they share similar symptoms, there are differences between the two. A kidney infectionâs signs and symptoms vary significantly from person to person and normally develop within a day or as fast as a few hours.
Understanding the difference between a bladder and kidney infection can ensure you take the proper steps towards healing and speeding up doctor consultation sessions.
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Comparing Kidney Stones And Utis: Diet Changes
Diet can play a large role in both kidney stones and urinary tract infections. Making smart diet choices can help reduce your risk of either condition.
To prevent calcium oxalate stones, you should reduce your sodium intake, reduce animal proteins, get enough calcium from food sources to avoid taking supplements, and reduce your intake of foods high in oxalate like spinach, nuts, and wheat bran.
To prevent calcium phosphate stones, reduce sodium intake, reduce animal protein intake, and get enough calcium from food sources. To reduce the risk of uric acid stones, also limit animal proteins.
When you have a urinary tract infection, its recommended that you consume probiotic foods such as yogurt or kefir, bulk up on vitamin C foods , consume cranberries and blueberries, and limit your intake of sugary foods as bacteria thrive on sugar.
A study, undertaken by researchers at Duke Medicine and published in the journal Surgery, concluded that despite having an overall low risk profile, kidney stone treatment procedures do lead to secondary complications that require hospitalization or emergency care. Continue reading
Drink Plenty Of Liquids
Drinking plenty of liquids, particularly water, will help to wash bacteria from your bladder and urinary tract.
Drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry extracts may also help prevent urinary tract infections . However, you should avoid cranberry juice or extracts if you’re taking warfarin, a medicine used to prevent blood clots. Cranberry juice can make the effects of warfarin more potent, so there’s a risk of excessive bleeding.
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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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When To See Your Doctor
See your doctor right away if you have signs of a urinary tract infection. A bladder infection is generally not a medical emergency — but some people have a higher risk for complications. This includes pregnant women, the elderly, and men, as well as people with diabetes, kidney problems, or a weakened immune system.
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Kidney Infection Vs Uti
The main difference between a kidney infection and UTI is that a urinary tract infection can occur anywhere in the urinary system while a kidney infection occurs in one or both of the kidneys.
Differences in Treatments
Kidney infections and UTIs are commonly treated with antibiotics. However, a serious kidney infection may warrant in-hospital treatment including IV antibiotics and fluids.
Diagnosing And Treating Kidney Stones
Kidney stones should be diagnosed and treated by a urologist or a nephrologist. Diagnosing kidney stones may include blood tests, urine tests, imaging tests, and/or analysis of any stones that may have already been passed. Treatment is dependant on the type of stone, but treatments include medications, antibiotics, lithotripsy , ureteroscopy , and tunnel surgery .
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What Are The Treatments For A Bladder Infection Vs A Uti
How a doctor deals with a patient’s UTI depends on where it’s located, what caused it, how severe the infection is, and whether there are other complicating factors to consider.
An uncomplicated bladder infection can sometimes clear up on its own. But given that it can turn into a more severe infection, you might be better off with a prescription for some oral antibiotics to kill off the bacteria. Per the American Urological Association , treatment for uncomplicated bladder infections typically involves taking one of the following:
- A single dose of Fosfomycin.
- Nitrofurantoin for five days.
- Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole DS for three days.
If you have a more complicated bladder infection, you may need to rely on other types of antibiotics and take them for up to 14 days to clear out the infection. Either way, you should start to feel better within a couple of days of taking the meds but be sure to finish the full course of antibiotics. Otherwise, resistant bacteria could grow and create a new infection that’s harder to cure.
Doctors may also give you additional fluids through the IV. And that’s assuming you don’t get a complication, such as sepsis. Once the IV antibiotics help you feel better, you can generally go home and finish treating the UTI with more antibiotics for a total of 14 days, per the AUA.
Difference Between Uti And Kidney Infection
Having health problems is terrible, we all know the feeling of having something wrong with us and having to deal with it through a determined amount of time while just wishing it was over as soon as possible. One of these health problems that we have to deal with are infections. They are a problem of the present ad we can do nothing about them except try to prevent them and take care of them.
In this article, were going to look at the difference between a urinary tract infection and a kidney infection. These arent two entirely different types of infections and as a matter of fact, a kidney infection is a type of urinary tract infection, but lets look at them both first.
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What If The Infection Does Not Clear Up With Treatment
Most infections clear up with treatment. However, if an infection does not clear up, or if you have repeated infections, you may be given some special tests such as:
a type of x-ray called an intravenous pyleogram , which involves injecting a dye into a vein and taking pictures of your kidney and bladder
an ultrasound exam, which gives a picture of your kidneys and bladder using sound waves
a cytoscopic exam, which uses a hollow tube with special lenses to look inside the bladder.
What Is The Difference Between Cystitis And Uti
A UTI can occur in any part of the urinary tract: the urethra, ureters, kidneys, or bladder. If the infection stays in the urethra, its considered urethritis. The urethra is a tube that allows the body to expel urine and is connected to the bladder. If the infection occurs in the lower urinary tract and bladder, its considered cystitis. The ureters, two narrow tubes, drain urine from the kidneys into the bladder. Kidneys are responsible for removing waste and excess water from the body. If the infection moves to the upper urinary tract and kidneys, its considered pyelonephritis.
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Kidney Infection Risk Factors
Anyone can get a kidney infection. But just as women get more bladder infections than men, they also get more kidney infections.
A womanâs urethra is shorter than a manâs, and itâs closer to their and . That means itâs easier for bacteria or viruses to get into a womanâs urethra, and once they do, itâs a shorter trip to the bladder. From there, they can spread to the kidneys.
Pregnant women are even more likely to get bladder infections. This is because of hormone changes and because a baby puts pressure on the motherâs bladder and ureters and slows the flow of urine.
Any problem in your urinary tract that keeps pee from flowing as it should can raise your chances of a kidney infection, such as:
- A blockage in your urinary tract, like a kidney stone or enlarged prostate
- Conditions that keep your bladder from completely emptying
- A problem in the structure of your urinary tract, like a pinched urethra
- Vesicoureteral reflux , which is when pee flows backward from your bladder toward your kidneys
Youâre also more likely to get an infection if you have:
Kidney Stones And Utis: Signs And Symptoms
Common symptoms of a urinary tract infection include abdominal pain, burning with urination, increased frequency in urination, and urinary urgency. Other symptoms may accompany a UTI, including fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting. Urine may also appear pinkish or light red, and have a strong odor. Pelvic pain may be experienced as well.
Kidney stones symptoms include severe pain, pain that travels across the lower abdomen, pain that comes in waves and fluctuates in intensity, pain in urination, pink, red or brown blood in urine, nausea and vomiting, persistent need to urinate, urinating more frequent than usual, fever and chills with the presence of an infection, and urination in small amounts only.
You should see a doctor if symptoms change to a pain so severe you are unable to stand or move, if pain is accompanied by nausea or vomiting, if fever or chills develop, and if there is blood in urine or difficulty passing urine.
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Complications Of Kidney Infections
Most kidney infections are treated successfully without complications, although some people may develop further problems.
Complications of a kidney infection are rare, but you’re more likely to develop them if you:
- rapid heartbeat
Blood poisoning is a medical emergency that usually requires admission to a hospital intensive care unit while antibiotics are used to fight the infection.
If you’re taking certain medications for diabetes, such as metformin or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, they may be temporarily withdrawn until you recover. This is because they can cause kidney damage during an episode of blood poisoning.
What To Expect From Kidney Infection Treatment
A kidney infection is easy to treat if its caught in its earliest stage, especially if youre young and generally healthy. In this case, a course of antibiotics lasting a week to two weeks is usually enough, Dr. Movassaghi says. However, taking the full course of antibiotics is key for fully fighting off the infection, even if youre feeling totally fine halfway through, so be sure to take every dose, says the NIDDK.
If you have a severe kidney infection or are immunocompromised, youll likely need to be treated in the hospital with intravenous antibiotics. After a few days, you should be able to move on to taking antibiotics by mouth.
In rare cases, a person might need surgery for a kidney infection. Usually, this is only considered if your doctor determines theres something blocking your urinary tract like a kidney stone or an enlarged prostate.
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Causes Of Kidney Infection
A kidney infection usually happens when bacteria, often a type called E. coli, get into the tube that carries urine out of your body .
The bacteria travel up to your bladder, causing cystitis, and then up into your kidneys.
E. coli bacteria normally live in your bowel, where they cause no harm.
They can be transferred from your bottom to your genitals during sex or if you’re not careful when wiping your bottom after going to the loo.
A kidney infection can sometimes develop without a bladder infection. For example, if you have a problem with your kidney, such as kidney stones, or if you have diabetes or a weakened immune system.
What Could Be Mistaken For A Uti
There are several conditions whose symptoms mimic UTIs. Sexually transmitted infections cause symptoms also common in UTIs, such as painful urination and discharge.
Vaginitis, caused by bacteria or yeast, can result in a burning sensation when urinating and similar discomfort that may mimic a UTI.
Often mistaken for a UTI, interstitial cystitis , or painful bladder condition, is a chronic condition affecting the bladder that does not improve with antibiotic treatment. Symptoms of IC include increased urgency and more frequent urination as well as pain in the pelvic area.
Other conditions to rule out are overactive bladder, pregnancy, prostatitis, diabetes, cancer, and kidney stones.
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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
The Kidney Infection Explained
A kidney infection, as said, is a type of urinary tract infection and it usually begins on the bladder, traveling up to the kidneys. A kidney infection is very serious and proper medical attention is required, since it can actually damage the kidneys permanently and in some cases it is possible that bacteria spread into the bloodstream. The treatment usually includes antibiotics and hospitalization.
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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.
What Is The Outlook For Kidney Infections
With treatment, the outlook for kidney infections is very positive. It is vital that you take all of any prescribed medications for the infection. You may begin feeling better shortly after beginning a treatment, but still need to take the entire prescribed treatment.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/22/2019.
- National Kidney Foundation. Urinary Tract Infections Accessed 5/23/19.
- National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases . Pyelonephritis: Kidney Infection Accessed 5/23/19.
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When Will I Begin To Feel Better
Once you start treatment, you should start to feel better in a few days.
Can I have sex while being treated for a kidney infection?After you have started treatment and your symptoms have gone away, it is usually safe to have sex. Remember to urinate after sex to avoid getting more bacteria in your urinary tract.