A kidney infection is a serious complication of a common UTI, or urinary tract infection. Left untreated, your kidneys may become scarred and function poorly. A body-wide blood-borne infection called sepsis may also develop. In this blog, you can learn about the causes of kidney infections and the signs that indicate you need medical attention if you have one.
What Causes Kidney Infections?
Bacteria in the urinary tract can spread to the bladder and even up into the kidneys. Your urinary tract is responsible for filtering waste products from your bloodstream and eliminating them as urine through the bladder and urethra.
Bacteria normally reside within the urinary tract in limited numbers. Many are the kind called E. coli, the germs found in feces. E.coli can easily spread to the urethra, particularly in women, due to poor hygiene habits and the close proximity of this small opening to the anus.
In large numbers, E. coli can lead to UTIs. Additionally, bacteria in other parts of the body may cause a UTI. Urinary tract blockages – from kidney stones, for example – may lead to kidney infection.
What are the Symptoms of a Kidney Infection?
The symptoms of kidney infection may include:
- Flank, groin, or abdominal pain
- Burning when urinating
- Having to urinate urgently and frequently
- Feeling that the bladder has not emptied fully
- Pus and or blood in the urine
- Urine that smells foul
- Fatigue and malaise
With many UTIs, symptoms are mild and may pass without any medical intervention. However, it’s wise to seek medical attention if symptoms persist beyond a few days or if they worsen, because bacteria from a simple bladder infection can spread to the kidneys, resulting in:
- Scarring of the delicate blood vessels and filtering structures contained within the kidneys
- Kidney failure
- Pregnancy complications
Sepsis is a true medical emergency. It is a huge body-wide infection caused by large numbers of bacteria. Without fast and effective medical treatment, sepsis can lead to organ failure and even death, particularly in the elderly and those with immune disorders, cancer, or other serious medical conditions.
What are the Symptoms of Life-Threatening Sepsis?
Sepsis can develop fairly rapidly. It may feature one or more of the following signs and symptoms:
- Mental confusion
- Rapid heart rate
- Chills and fever
- Shortness of breath
Call 911 or your healthcare provider right away if you think you or a loved one has sepsis. These symptoms are very serious and require medical attention as soon as possible.
Treating and Preventing Kidney Infections
Kidney infections can respond well to treatment with oral antibiotics. More serious ones may require a hospital stay and a course of IV antibiotics.
Your physician will review your symptoms and take urine and blood samples to determine which microorganism is causing the infection. Then, the doctor can prescribe an antibiotic, which will clear the germs from your system. If you are on oral antibiotics at home, be sure to take it as prescribed and to finish all the pills.
Surprisingly, even people who generally enjoy good overall health may develop a urinary tract or kidney infection. So, it is wise to stay well-hydrated and physically active.
Also, keep your perineal area between the genitals and anus clean, particularly after bowel movements and sexual activity. Wear clean, dry underwear every day, and change out of wet swimsuits and sweaty gym clothes right away.
Finally, do not hold your urine or a bowel movement for prolonged periods of time. If you have to go, use the toilet as soon as possible.
Kidney Infection Treatment in Sarasota, FL
At Intercoastal Medical Group, we have a number of internal medicine and family physicians who can treat UTIs and kidney infections quickly and accurately. Plus, they can help you identify any health conditions or lifestyle habits that may make you prone to these potentially serious conditions.
Finally, our on-staff urologist is Dr. Louis Cohen. He sees patients at our Cattleridge Medical Building I in Sarasota, FL. Call us for a consultation at (941) 379-1860, or request a visit here. Our highly trained providers are here to help you have vibrant health and to help you through any acute or chronic conditions.