When To Seek Immediate Medical Attention
UTIs are uncomfortable, but theyre not an immediate medical emergency. Some people make the mistake of assuming the same is true with a kidney infection.
Kidney infections are serious conditions and they do require medical attention. Untreated, a kidney infection can quickly cause long-term kidney damage or kidney scarring. These infections can also cause , which can lead to shock.
Because of this, a kidney infection can be fatal if it progresses. Its important to have it treated immediately by a healthcare professional.
Note that kidney stones, if untreated, can also cause a blockage that can lead to pyelonephritis and sepsis. This may require a procedure done with intravenous antibiotics by a urologist.
Examples Of Bacterial Infections
Bacteria must enter your body for them to cause an infection. So you can get a bacterial infection through an opening in your skin, such as a cut, a bug bite, or a surgical wound. Bacteria may also enter your body through your airway and cause infections like bacterial pneumonia. Other types of bacterial infections include urinary tract infections and dental abscesses, as well as infections caused by MRSA, Group B Streptococcus, and C. Difficile. Infections can also occur in open wounds, such as pressure ulcers . Pressure ulcers are caused by constant pressure on the skin for extended periods of time, or rubbing. For example, a senior who is bedridden, could develop sores on the coccyx area, elbows, heels, or anywhere else where there is constant contact with a bed or adapted easy chair.
Sometimes bacterial infections are secondary infections. For example, if you contract COVID-19 which is a virus your body is in a weakened state and you could also develop bacterial pneumonia. You would then be fighting both a viral infection and a bacterial one.
Symptoms Of Kidney Disease
Kidney disease is called a silent disease as there are often few or no symptoms. In fact, you can lose up to 90 per cent of your kidneys functionality before experiencing any symptoms. Some signs and symptoms include:
- a change in the frequency and quantity of urine you pass, especially at night
- blood in your urine
- pain or burning when you pass urine
- high blood pressure.
If your kidneys begin to fail, waste products and extra fluid build up in your blood. This, and other problems, gradually leads to:
- tiredness and inability to concentrate
- generally feeling unwell
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Is It A Kidney Infection Or Something Else
Your symptoms could also result from another common illness. Some similar conditions you may mistake for a kidney infection include:
- Other UTIs. Other types of UTIs, such as those affecting the urethra and bladder, can also cause symptoms like urgent and painful urination, abdominal pain, and urine thats cloudy, foul-smelling, or bloody.
- Kidney stones.Kidney stones are hard deposits of materials like calcium or uric acid that form in the kidneys. When they become lodged in the kidneys, they can cause pain in the abdomen, side, or back, as well as nausea and vomiting.
- Lower back pain. If low back pain is your primary symptom, you may have a condition thats affecting your lower back. Examples include injuries, degenerative disc disease, and nerve compression.
- Pregnancy. Symptoms like frequent urination, nausea and vomiting, and abdominal cramping can all be early signs of pregnancy.
Its always a good rule of thumb to seek medical attention if you experience any new or concerning symptoms. A healthcare professional can work with you to determine what may be causing them.
Heres an idea of what you can expect when you seek care for a possible kidney infection.
Tests For Kidney Cancer
Kidney cancer might be found because of signs or symptoms a person is having, or it might be found because of lab tests or imaging tests a person is getting for another reason. The actual diagnosis of kidney cancer is made by looking at a sample of kidney cells in the lab or sometimes by how the kidney looks on an imaging test. If you think you have possible signs or symptoms of kidney cancer, see your doctor.
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How Can I Manage My Symptoms
- Drink liquids as directed. You may need to drink extra liquids to help flush your kidneys and urinary system. Water is the best liquid to drink. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
- Urinate as soon as you feel the urge. This will help flush bacteria from your urinary system. Do not wait or hold your urine for too long.
- Clean your genital area every day with soap and water. Wipe from front to back after you urinate or have a bowel movement. Wear cotton underwear. Fabrics such as nylon and polyester can stay damp. This can increase your risk for infection. Urinate within 15 minutes after you have sex.
First What Is A Urinary Tract Infection
A urinary tract infection is an infection of any area of your urinary tract. Bladder infections are the most common type of UTI, but any part of the urinary tract can become infected, including the urethra, ureters, and kidneys, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases .
Urinary tract infections are usually caused by bacteria thats normally found in the bowel, like E. coli, the NIDDK says. While urination typically flushes out this bacteria before it reaches the bladder, sometimes your body cant fight the bacteria and it causes an infection.
- a burning feeling when you pee
- frequent or intense urges to pee, even when you have little urine to pass
If a UTI progresses to a kidney infection, it may cause additional symptoms, including:
- cloudy, dark, bloody, or foul-smelling urine
- frequent, painful urination
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Sudden Loss Of Kidney Function: Do You Know What To Do In This Emergency
Some people suddenly lose their kidneys function. All at once, the kidneys stop doing their important tasks: eliminating excess fluid and salts and removing waste material. When the kidneys go on strike, dangerous levels of fluid, salts and wastes build up in the body. Without functioning kidneys, the persons life is at risk.
Acute kidney failure is the name of this problem. Most people with chronic kidney failure gradually lose the function of their kidneys. In people with acute kidney failure, though, kidney failure develops rapidly over a few hours or a few days. People at high risk are those who are already hospitalized, or who are critically ill from other causes and need intensive care.
Acute kidney failure requires immediate treatment. The good news is that acute kidney failure can often be reversed. The kidneys usually start working again within several weeks to months after the underlying cause has been treated. Dialysis is needed until then. If the kidneys fail completely, the only treatment options available are dialysis for the rest of your life or transplant.
Acute kidney failure almost always occurs in connection with another medical condition, infection or use of kidney-harming medicines. There are many possible causes of kidney damage. Many other serious conditions can increase your risk of acute kidney failure. Some of the situations that put you at risk of acute kidney failure include:
What Can Happen If A Uti Is Not Treated
If treated right away, a UTI is not likely to damage your urinary tract. But if your UTI is not treated, the infection can spread to the kidneys and other parts of your body. The most common symptoms of kidney infection are fever and pain in the back where the kidneys are located. Antibiotics can also treat kidney infections.
Sometimes the infection can get in the bloodstream. This is rare but life-threatening.
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Private Duty Nursing Services
Sometimes, seniors need help with more than daily living tasks and require a licensed medical professional. Centric Healthcare offers the services of private duty nurses who attend to your or your loved ones medical needs in your home. Examples of our services that can assist in the treatment and prevention of UTI include assistance with catheter care, medication administration, and a trained eye that can help identify self-care needs and watch for classic and non-classic UTI symptoms.
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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How Do You Know When A Uti Becomes A Kidney Infection
When you do not see a doctor, a urinary tract infection can swiftly turn into a kidney infection, which can be very serious to your long-term health.
Urinary tract infections are one of the most common types of infection, second only to respiratory infections. They account for over 8.3 million visits to hospitals and health care providers each year. An untreated UTI may lead to a kidney infection, this is a potentially life-threatening condition.
Causes Of Kidney Infection
Charmaine, Facty Staff
A kidney infection is when bacteria has entered one or both of the kidneys, most likely from the urinary tract or bladder. Generally, the bacteria E. coli which typically live in your bowel where they’re harmless. However, if the bacteria gets transferred from your behind to your urethra during sex or after using the bathroom, you can end up with a kidney infection. The symptoms of a kidney infection include fever and chills, a feeling of fatigue, loss of appetite, lower back or groin pain, upset stomach, and blood in your urine. The entire urinary system is sensitive to germs and bacteria, which can ultimately lead to infection. There are many causes of a kidney infection.
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Why The Elderly Are Vulnerable To Uti
Studies have found that as both women and men age, their chances of getting UTI increases dramatically. UTI is the most commonly diagnosed infection in long-term care facilities and they account for more than 33% of all nursing home-related infections. Elderly women become especially susceptible to UTI. 10% of women older than 65 have reported having UTI in the past 12 months, and that rate jumps to nearly 30% for women older than 85.
Seniors are more vulnerable to UTI for many reasons. The human immune system naturally weakens as it ages. Because the elderly are more prone to develop other illnesses as they grow older, their immune systems are further weakened by multiple conditions with which they struggle. So, when fungi or bacteria enter the urethra of older adults, their immune systems are less likely to fight them off and prevent infection.
In addition to their increased susceptibility to infection, older adults may experience a decreased ability to properly care for themselves. Decreases in their cognitive abilities and energy levels may result in poor hygiene and improper self-care. They may even lose their ability to communicate their care needs to their loved ones and caregivers. As a result, their care needs may go unnoticed until an infection has already taken hold.
Preventing Urinary Tract Infections And Kidney Infections
Urinary tract infections and kidney infections can generally be prevented through similar means.
If you suffer from any symptoms of a urinary tract or kidney infection, talk to your doctor immediately. The faster you act, the more effective the treatment.
If you experience any symptoms of urinary tract infection or kidney infection, call or book online with PlushCare to set up a phone or video appointment with a top U.S. doctor today.
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Who Is More Likely To Get A Kidney Infection
Anyone can get a kidney infection, but it is more common in some people, such as:
- Women: A woman’s urethra is shorter than a man’s. Having a shorter urethra makes it easier for bacteria to get into the urinary tract. The urethra is also closer to the anus in women. Bacteria can spread from the anus or vagina into the urethra, and then travel up the urinary tract. Pregnant women are even more likely to have a kidney infection.
- People with diabetes
- People with a weakened immune system: This could be caused by a disease, such as diabetes or HIV, or by certain medicines called immunosuppressives. People who have had a kidney transplant or other organ transplant take immunosuppressives.
- People who have nerve or spinal cord damage that keeps them from feeling pain in and around their urinary tract: This can keep them from noticing symptoms of a bladder infection, which can lead to a kidney infection.
- People who use a catheter to drain urine from their bladder
- People with vesicoureteral reflux : People with VUR have urinary tracts that allow urine to flow backwards from the bladder to the kidneys.
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.
- Uncontrolled diabetes mellitus.
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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.
What Is The Treatment For A Kidney Infection
- Antibiotics will usually clear the infection. An antibiotic is usually prescribed straightaway if a kidney infection is suspected, even before the result of the urine test is known. Some germs are resistant to some antibiotics. Therefore, sometimes a change of antibiotic may be needed if the urine test shows a germ which is resistant to the initial antibiotic. The course of antibiotics is for 7-14 days, depending on which one is used. Commonly used antibiotics for kidney infections include ciprofloxacin, cefalexin, co-amoxiclav or trimethoprim.
- Painkillers such as paracetamol can ease pain and reduce a high temperature . Stronger painkillers may be needed if the pain is more severe. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen are not usually recommended for a person with a kidney infection. This is because they may possibly cause problems with the working of the kidney during a kidney infection.
- Plenty of fluid should be taken to prevent lack of fluid in the body .
In many cases, the infection is not too severe, treatment can be taken at home and the infection will clear with a course of antibiotic tablets. If treatment is to be home-based, a doctor should be called if the symptoms are not improving after 24 hours, or the person is feeling more unwell.
However, some people need to be admitted to hospital – for example if:
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Use Nonaspirin Pain Relievers
Nonaspirin pain relievers can help relieve discomfort. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen can also help break fevers caused by the infection.
However, note that if you have kidney dysfunction, or acute kidney injury, as a result of a kidney infection, its important to avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen and naproxen .
What Are The Symptoms Of Kidney Infection
A number of symptoms can indicate to your doctor that you may have a kidney infection. The more severe the symptoms, the more likely the infection involves the kidney. Symptoms of a kidney infection include:
- Sudden onset of chills
If you experience any of these sudden onset symptoms, please seek medical attention.
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Treatment For Utis Vs Kidney Infection Treatment
UTIs, including kidney infections, can be treated with a course of antibiotics. The type of antibiotic can depend on the type of bacteria thats causing your infection as well as how severe your infection is.
The doctor will often start you on an antibiotic that works against a wide variety of UTI-causing bacteria. If a urine culture is performed, the doctor may switch your antibiotic to one thats most effective at treating the specific bacterium thats causing your infection.
Simple UTIs can be treated with short 3- to 5-day courses of antibiotics. Treatment for kidney infections generally lasts 7 to 14 days, depending on which class of antibiotic is prescribed.
You may begin to feel better after only a few days on antibiotics. However, you should still make sure that you complete your entire treatment course as prescribed. If you do not take all of your antibiotics, the stronger bacteria may not be killed, causing your infection to persist and flare up again.
If youre pregnant, your doctor may also request a repeat urine sample following a kidney infection, even if your symptoms have resolved. This allows them to check to see whether your infection has completely cleared.
If there are still bacteria present in the sample, you may need another course of antibiotics. Persistence of bacteria can potentially harm an unborn baby.
People with severe kidney infections may need to be hospitalized. In this case, you may receive antibiotics and fluids intravenously.