Utis Vs Kidney Infections: How To Tell The Difference
It starts with a sudden urge to go to the bathroom. Whether at work, school or running errands, you have to drop what youre doing and find a restroom now. But once you can finally relieve yourself, you cant go. Or, if you do go, it feels painful and uncomfortable.
If this has happened to you, it might have been a urinary tract infection or kidney infection.
Many people ignore signs of a bladder infection and wait it out until symptoms improve, says Dr. Ross Watson, a board-certified family practitioner at Beaufort Memorial Primary Care. But if you seek medical help, we can often resolve painful symptoms quickly.
Heres how to tell if you have a UTI or kidney infection and what you can do to start feeling better.
Antibiotics For A Kidney Infection
Antibiotics are the main treatment for a kidney infection, and are usually the only treatment thats needed.
If your doctor strongly suspects that you have a kidney infection based on your symptoms, you may be immediately prescribed an antibiotic that targets the most common bacteria that cause kidney infections.
Once your lab test results are in, your doctor may adjust your prescription based on the exact type of bacteria causing your infection. These antibiotics may be taken by mouth or IV.
Usually, your symptoms will start to get better within a few days of starting on antibiotics. But even if you feel better, its important to take the full course of antibiotics youve been prescribed.
Depending on the specific drug you take, your course of antibiotics will typically last for 5 to 14 days. Taking the full course ensures that all bacteria causing your infection are eliminated.
Antibiotics used to treat kidney infections include:
How To Prevent Kidney Infection
You cant completely prevent future kidney infections. You will be at a higher risk if you have kidney stones, diabetes, or a weakened immune system.
The female urinary system is also more prone to developing kidney infections because the womans urethra is shorter.
You can, however, do the following things to reduce the chance of developing a kidney infection:
- Dont use deodorant sprays or douches on your genitals.
- Avoid spermicide, which can trigger bacteria growth.
- Use lubricated condoms.
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What Procedures And Tests Diagnose Kidney Infections In Men And Women
The most important test in diagnosing kidney infection is a urinalysis . Urinalysis is a test to analyze urine sample and evaluate for an infection in the urine. Urinalysis is done by collecting a clean catch, midstream urine in a sterile collection cup. The urine may be analyzed by the doctor in the office using or by analysis in a laboratory.
Because urine is normally sterile, any finding suggesting an infection may be considered abnormal and supportive of a kidney infection.
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Antibiotics Used For Complicated Utis
Before getting into how to best treat a complicated UTI, its important to understand which UTIs are considered complicated. Here are some guidelines:
- Urinary tract abnormalities are present
- The patient is a child
- A comorbidity is present that increases risk of infection or treatment resistance, such as poorly controlled diabetes
- Youre a man, since most UTIs in men are considered complicated
Kidney infections are often treated as a complicated UTI as well, notes the Merck Manual.
If a UTI is complicated, a different course of antibiotics may be required. And the initial dose of antibiotics may be started intravenously in the hospital. After that, antibiotics are given orally at home. In addition, follow-up urine cultures are generally recommended within 10 to 14 days after treatment. Not all of the antibiotics approved for uncomplicated UTIs are appropriate for the complicated version. Some that are considered appropriate, include:
If your healthcare professional prescribes you antibiotics:
- Take antibiotics exactly as your healthcare professional tells you.
- Do not share your antibiotics with others.
- Do not save antibiotics for later. Talk to your healthcare professional about safely discarding leftover antibiotics.
Drink plenty of water or other fluids. Your healthcare professional might also recommend medicine to help lessen the pain or discomfort. Talk with your healthcare professional if you have any questions about your antibiotics.
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How To Treat Bacterial Infection With Cranberry Juice
In accordance with a study carried out by Dr. Ran D. Goldman, published in the official publication of the college of Family Physicians of Canada in April, 2021, cranberry juice was reported to be effective in bacterial infection treatment and prevention such as Escherichia coli that affects the bladder epithelium. Specifically, current evidence shows that this juice can be used to prevent UTI in women but no evidence supporting for the childrens cases.
Actually, cranberry juice is considered as a wonderful tip on how to treat bacterial naturally, which can treat both urinary tract and vaginal infections. Fresh cranberry juice that is not sweetened and canned could take many times throughout the day to fight against the harmful bacteria inside our body. Cranberry juice could be used safely even by women who are pregnant for curing bacterial infections. Therefore, it is recommended for you if you want to know how to treat bacterial infection without antibiotics. However, as mentioned, although cranberry juice if safe for children, its level of acidity may reduce palatability among them. In fact, the dose of this juice for preventing UTI from children has not been determined yet. It is still a controversial issue.
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Things You Can Try Yourself
If you have a kidney infection, try not to “hover” over the toilet seat when you go to the loo because it can result in your bladder not being fully emptied.
It’s also important for most people with a kidney infection to drink plenty of fluids because this will help to flush out the bacteria from your kidneys. Aim to drink enough so that you’re frequently passing pale-coloured urine.
If you have kidney failure, get advice from your doctor on how much to drink.
Make sure you get plenty of rest. A kidney infection can be physically draining, even if you’re normally healthy and strong. It may take up to 2 weeks before you’re fit enough to return to work.
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Which Antibiotic Will Work Best
Your doctor will take a urine sample to confirm that you have a UTI. Then the lab will grow the germs in a dish for a couple of days to find out which type of bacteria you have. This is called a culture. Itâll tell your doctor what type of germs caused your infection. Theyâll likely prescribe one of the following antibiotics to treat it before the culture comes back:
Which medication and dose you get depends on whether your infection is complicated or uncomplicated.
âUncomplicatedâ means your urinary tract is normal. âComplicatedâ means you have a disease or problem with your urinary tract. You could have a narrowing of your ureters, which are the tubes that carry urine from your kidneys to your bladder, a narrowing in the urethra which transports urine from the bladder out of the body, or, you might have a blockage like a kidney stone or an enlarged prostate . It’s also possible you have a urinary fistula or a bladder diverticulum.
To treat a complicated infection, your doctor might prescribe a higher dose of antibiotics. If your UTI is severe or the infection is in your kidneys, you might need to be treated in a hospital or doctor’s office with high-dose antibiotics you get through an IV.
Your doctor will also consider these factors when choosing an antibiotic:
- Are you over age 65?
- Are you allergic to any antibiotics?
- Have you had any side effects from antibiotics in the past?
Causes Of Kidney Infections
A kidney infection happens when bacteria infects your kidneys. The bacteria are usually a type called E. coli, which live in your bowel.
The bacteria get in through the opening of the urethra and move upwards through your urinary tract, first infecting your bladder and then your kidneys.
In rare cases, a kidney infection can develop if bacteria or fungi infect the skin and the infection spreads through your bloodstream into your kidney. However, this type of infection usually only occurs in people with weakened immune systems.
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What Are The Symptoms Of An Acute Kidney Infection
Signs and symptoms vary with age:
- Newborns: no fever but poor feeding and vomiting
- Children < 2: may have a fever , a poor appetite, vomiting and diarrhea
- Children > 2: fever, appetite changes, stomach or lower back pain, symptoms of urgency, frequency and pain with urination
If a toilet trained child is having accidents during the day or night, it may be a sign of an infection. Typically a childs urine will have a strong, foul odor, and there may be blood in the urine.
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What Are The Causes Of Kidney Infections
Normally, bacteria are flushed out by the flow of urine. However, several problems can increase the risk of a kidney infection. These problems can include:
- Structural abnormalities blocking urine flow.
- An enlarged prostate gland compressing the urethra.
- Backflow of urine from the bladder to the kidneys.
- If your immune system is affected .
- Pregnancy, during which time the enlarging uterus can squeeze the ureters and reduce the flow of urine, allowing the bacteria to migrate to the kidneys.
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When Should You Call Your Doctor
if painful urination or other symptoms of a urinary tract infection occur with:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Fever and chills.
- Pain in the flank, which is felt just below the rib cage and above the waist on one or both sides of the back, or lower belly pain.
if you are pregnant and have symptoms of a UTI .
- Have had UTI symptoms previously and have those symptoms again.
- Have minor symptoms of a UTI that do not clear up in 1 to 2 days, such as pain or burning when you urinate, foul-smelling urine, or the urge to urinate frequently while passing only small amounts of urine.
- Notice blood or pus in your urine.
- Have symptoms of a UTI and you have diabetes.
- Have been taking antibiotics for a UTI but your symptoms do not improve after 48 hours or they come back after improving temporarily.
Seek Treatment Right Away
It is very important to get medical treatment for a kidney infection as soon as possibledo not wait for it to go away on its own. Kidney infections that are not treated soon enough can cause permanent kidney damage or can spread to other parts of your body and cause an even more serious infection, such as an infection in your blood , which can be fatal.
If you have pain, talk to your doctor about taking over-the-counter pain medicines. You can also use a heating pad to help with pain. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water.
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Kidney Infection Home Remedies
Antibiotics are the most effective way to treat an infection. Additionally, there are some things you can do to help you feel better and speed up recovery.
The following will also help if you avoid urinary tract infections:
- Drink plenty of fluids to flush out the bacteria.
- Water and cranberry or apple juice are good options. Alcohol and coffee are not.
- Get extra rest.
- When using the bathroom, sit on the toilet rather than hovering over it. It can keep your bladder from completely emptying.
- Take a pain reliever with acetaminophen. Avoid aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen because these can raise your risk of kidney problems.
- Apply heat to your belly, back, or side.
Antibiotic Overuse Leads To Antibiotic Resistance
At some point, most people have taken a course of trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole or ciprofloxacin , two common antibiotics used for UTIs. However, in the last few years it has become clear that the likelihood these antibiotics will kill most UTIs is dropping rapidly. You may have read the recent, frightening New York Timesarticle reporting one in three uncomplicated UTIs in young healthy women are Bactrim-resistant and one in five are resistant to five other common antibiotics. Pretty scary, since we used to feel confident that writing a prescription for Bactrim was a sure recipe for cure.
How is it that we are losing the antibiotic war with bacteria? Though many things drive bacterial resistance, giving antibiotics to animals and antibiotic overuse in humans top the list.
We use a lot of antibiotics in humans too much, and not always for the right reasons. When we prescribe antibiotics for viral illnesses like a cold, the flu, or common sinusitis, we create a massive shift in the bodys bacteria for no good reason .
You may have an infection if you have any of these symptoms:
- You feel pain or burning when you urinate.
- You feel like you have to urinate often, but not much urine comes out when you do.
- You have pain in your lower belly.
- Your urine is cloudy, looks pink or red, or smells bad.
- You have pain on one side of your back under your ribs. This is where your kidneys are.
- You have fever and chills.
- You have nausea and vomiting.
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Why Should I Take The Full Dose
Antibiotics work well against UTIs. You might start to feel better after being on the medicine for just a few days.
But even so, keep taking your medicine. If you stop your antibiotics too soon, you wonât kill all the bacteria in your urinary tract.
These germs can become resistant to antibiotics. That means the meds will no longer kill these bugs in the future. So if you get another UTI, the medication you take might not treat it. Take the full course of your medicine to make sure all the bacteria are dead.
Take An Epsom Salt Bath
Both Epsom salts and warm water can ease pain. This can help make the uncomfortable side effects of the kidney infection a little more tolerable while you wait for the antibiotics to take effect.
Since abdominal pain is sometimes a symptom of antibiotics, as well as kidney infections, Epsom salts could also help even after symptoms from the kidney infection are resolved.
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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.
How Can I Prevent A Kidney Infection
You may be able to lower your chance of getting a kidney infection by:
- Drinking plenty of water
- Urinating as soon as you feel the need to
- Urinating after having sex
- Avoiding the use of deodorant sprays or douches in your genital area
- Getting treatment for constipation . Constipation is not a symptom of kidney infection but it can increase your chance of having bacteria in your urinary tract because it can make it difficult to empty your bladder fully.
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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 youre taking warfarin, a medicine used to prevent blood clots. Cranberry juice can make the effects of warfarin more potent, so theres a risk of excessive bleeding.
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Kidney Infection Treatment Options
Kidney infections are treated with antibiotics, pain relievers, and fever reducers. Uncomplicated kidney infection and few complicated kidney infections will be treated on an outpatient basis by a general practitioner, but people with a complicated kidney infection likely require hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics.. Pregnant women may require additional consultation with an obstetrician or gynecologist.
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Are Quinolones Safe
The fluoroquinolones, such as ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin have also been commonly used for simple UTIs however, FDA safety recommendations strongly suggest that this class be reserved for more serious infections and only be used if other appropriate antibiotics are not an option.
- An FDA safety review found that both oral and injectable fluoroquinolones are associated with serious and potentially disabling side effects involving tendons, muscles, joints, nerves and the central nervous system.
- These adverse effects can occur soon after administration to weeks after exposure, and may potentially be permanent.
- Patients should discuss the use of fluoroquinolones and their side effects with their healthcare provider.
However, certain oral fluoroquinolones may be appropriate for more complicated UTIs, including pyelonephritis and complicated UTIs in men with prostate involvement. For the outpatient treatment of uncomplicated pyelonephritis, the following quinolones may be appropriate. Based on resistance patterns , an inital dose of a long-acting parenteral antimicrobial, such as ceftriaxone, may be needed, or a 24-hour dose of an aminoglycoside.
Patients should be informed of the most current FDA warnings surrounding the use of fluoroquinolone antibiotics.