How Do You Test For Kidney Infection
To confirm that you have a kidney infection, youll likely be asked to provide a urine sample to test for bacteria, blood or pus in your urine. Your doctor might also take a blood sample for a culture a lab test that checks for bacteria or other organisms in your blood.
Other tests might include an ultrasound, CT scan or a type of X-ray called a voiding cystourethrogram. A voiding cystourethrogram involves injecting a contrast dye to take X-rays of the bladder when full and while urinating.
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 youre 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 youre 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medications for diabetes, such as metformin or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, they may be temporarily withdrawn until you recover.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.
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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 that do require medical attention. Untreated, a kidney infection can quickly cause long-term kidney damage or kidney scarring. These infections can also cause sepsis, which can lead to .
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 left untreated, can also cause a blockage that can lead to infection and sepsis. This may require a procedure done with intravenous antibiotics by a urologist.
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How Can You Tell If You Have Blood In Your Urine
Alternatively, some people have very small traces of blood in their urine which cannot be seen but are found when a dipstick is put in a sample of their urine. Your kidneys make urine continuously. A trickle of urine is constantly passing to your bladder down the tubes which run from the kidneys to the bladder.
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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.
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The Role Of Uti Testing
UTI testing may be performed if a doctor suspects a UTI based on a patients symptoms and a physical examination. Laboratory tests can diagnose or rule out UTIs. UTI testing can also identify the bacteria or other microbes that are causing the infection, which helps doctors decide how to best treat the infection.
Treatment Of Kidney Infection
Most kidney infections need prompt treatment with antibiotics to stop the infection damaging the kidneys or spreading to the bloodstream.
You may also need painkillers.
If you’re especially vulnerable to the effects of an infection , you may be admitted to hospital and treated with antibiotics through a drip.
Most people who are diagnosed and treated promptly with antibiotics feel completely better after about 2 weeks.
People who are older or have underlying conditions may take longer to recover.
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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 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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How Do You Prevent A Kidney Infection
If your dog has a condition that would have them more likely to develop a kidney infection, as soon as any symptoms are noticed, take them to your vet right away. Most dogs with kidney infections, if caught early and treated properly, can quickly and fully recover. If you do not treat a kidney infection right away, this can develop kidney failure.
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.
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How Can A Kidney Infection Be Successfully Treated
The type of treatment your doctor will provide depends on the severity of the infection. If the infection is mild, oral antibiotics are the first line of treatment. These usually take care of the problem in about two weeks.
For a more serious infection, your doctor may keep you in the hospital to receive intravenous antibiotics and intravenous fluids. Below, weve listed some things you can do at home to help your kidneys recover alongside your doctors treatments.
How Do Health Care Professionals Diagnose A Kidney Infection
Health care professionals use your medical history, a physical exam, and tests to diagnose a kidney infection.
A health care professional will ask if you have a history of health conditions that make you more likely to develop a kidney infection. During a physical exam, the health care professional will ask you about your symptoms.
If you are a man and the health care professional suspects you have a kidney infection, he or she may perform a digital rectal examination . During a DRE, the health care professional has you bend over a table or lie on your side while holding your knees close to your chest. After putting on a glove, the health care professional slides a lubricated finger into your to check for a swollen or enlarged prostate blocking the neck of your bladder.
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What Are The Symptoms Of A Kidney Infection
Symptoms of a kidney infection include:
- Pain in your lower back, one or both sides or your groin
- Urinating more often than normal
- Feeling like you have to urinate even if you just went
- Pain or burning when urinating
- Blood or pus in your urine
- Urine that is cloudy or smells bad
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your doctor right away. If you are currently taking medicine to treat a UTI, but you are still having any of these symptoms, contact your doctor.
How Do Health Care Professionals Treat Kidney Infections
If you have a kidney infection, a health care professional will prescribe antibiotics. Even before your test results are in, the health care professional may prescribe an antibiotic that fights the most common types of bacteria. Although you may feel relief from your symptoms, make sure to take the entire antibiotic treatment that your health care professional prescribes.
Once your lab results are in, the health care professional may switch the antibiotic to one that better treats the type of infection you have. You may take these antibiotics by mouth, through a vein in your arm, called by IV, or both.
If you are very sick from your kidney infection, you may go to a hospital for bed rest. A health care professional may give you fluids through an IV.
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Avoid Alcohol And Coffee
The kidneys most important role is to filter out harmful substances and toxins, and both alcohol and caffeine can require extra work from the kidneys. This may hinder the process of healing from an infection. Alcohol and antibiotics also shouldnt be mixed, so avoid alcohol during your treatment for this reason as well.
What Is A Uti Anyway
A UTI, or urinary tract infection, happens when bacteria enters into any part of your urinary system, which includes the urethra, the bladder, the kidneys or the uterus. If not flushed out of the system, the bacteria can lead to an infection, or a UTI.
If youve ever had a UTI , you probably havent forgotten the symptoms. UTIs are very unpleasant, to say the least, and are often accompanied with one or more of the following:
A burning sensation when urinating
A strong urge to urinate often, usually passing only small amounts of urine at a time.
Cloudy and/or strong smelling urine
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How Treatable Is A Kidney Infection
Generally, urinary tract and kidney infections are common conditions with an overall favorable outlook. A kidney infection can be managed at home if the infection is diagnosed and treated early with antibiotics. Severe or complicated infections may require more intensive treatment and possible hospitalization.
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.
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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.
See diagnosing kidney infections for more information
How Does It Differ From A Urinary Tract Infection
To understand a kidney infection vs UTI, you must first understand how the urinary system works.
The main functions of the urinary tract are to extract, hold, and transport waste from your body in the form of urine. Its comprised of:
- Two organs, located on either side of your body, that filter out excess water and waste from your blood to create urine. They are the first part of the urinary tract.
- : Two thin tubes that transport urine from the kidneys to the bladder.
- Bladder: Stores urine until it reaches a certain level, at which point you feel the need to urinate.
- Urethra: Thin tube that moves urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.
A kidney infection is a severe UTI, and the two conditions share some of the same symptoms, including:
- A painful or burning sensation when urinating
- Feeling like you need to urinate often
- Bad-smelling urine
- Cloudy urine or urine with blood in it
- Passing only a small amount of urine even though you have to urinate frequently
- Abdominal discomfort
A UTI may have moved into your kidneys if you experience the above symptoms as well as the following:
- Pain thats localized in your lower back or side
- Nausea or vomiting
If left untreated, a kidney infection can lead to serious health complications, including kidney damage or a life-threatening condition called sepsis.
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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 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.
When To See A Gp
See a GP if you feel feverish and have pain that will not go away in your tummy, lower back or genitals.
Contact a GP immediately if you think your child may have a kidney infection.
If you cannot get a GP appointment and need urgent medical attention, go to your nearest urgent care centre .
If you do not have a local UCC, go to your nearest A& E.
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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.
Is It Safe To Take Antibiotics Long
While there are some common side effects and risk for creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria, it is safe to take antibiotics preventively under the guidance of your physician.
If you have recurring UTIs , you may benefit from a low-dose prophylactic antibiotic, Dr. Sussman said. Some may require intermittent treatment at the sign of symptoms, while others may require a single dose after sexual intercourse or when symptoms occur. However, its important you discuss the underlying causes with your doctor before being prescribed antibiotics prophylactically.
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