How Do You Know If A Uti Has Spread To Your Kidneys
Kidney infections are caused by bacteria traveling from your bladder into either one or both of your kidneys. And while UTIs can be treated with a course of antibiotics, if it goes untreated, it can spread to the kidneys and cause an infection.
If your symptoms get worse or dont improve within a few days, its possible that the infection has moved beyond the bladder and towards the kidneys. Remember, a kidney infection can be treated so if you suspect somethings not quite right, be sure to contact your healthcare provider.
When Does A Uti Turn Into A Kidney Infection
What happens if a UTI goes untreated? If left untreated, the E. coli or other bacteria that caused your urinary tract infection can move farther up your urinary system.
When they reach your upper urinary system , you may experience a kidney infection, medically known as pyelonephritis.
Most people seek medical help and receive treatment before they get to this point.
Most often, the bacteria involved in a kidney infection are the same that caused the initial bladder or urethral infection. In rare instances, bacteria from your skin or the environment can cause a kidney infection.
Any condition that reduces or obstructs urine flow increases your risk of contracting a kidney infection as it allows bacteria to more easily flow from the bladder, up the ureters, to the kidneys. These conditions include:
- Kidney, bladder, or ureter stones
- Masses in the abdomen or pelvis caused by cancer or other disorders
Treatment For Recurrent Utis
Low-dose antibiotics, for six months but maybe longer
Self-diagnosis and treatment, if you stay in touch with your doctor
A single dose of an antibiotic after sex, if your recurrent UTIs are related to sex
Vaginal estrogen therapy, if youre postmenopausal
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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.
Can Kidney Infection Be Prevented
Most kidney infections are caused by germs travelling up from a bladder infection. So the same things that can help to reduce your chances of bladder infection should reduce your chances of kidney infection. Traditionally, people who got recurring urine infections were advised about measures such as drinking plenty of fluid and taking cranberry juice, and on the way that they wiped themselves after going to the toilet. However, there is little evidence for any of these measures and they are now not usually advised. Anything which increases your risk of urine infections which can be treated, should be treated. For example, any constipation should be treated promptly, as constipation can increase your chances of a bladder or kidney infection. See the separate leaflet called Constipation for more details. Doctors will try to treat anything else which might be contributing, such as kidney stones or an abnormality in the structure of the urinary system.
Pregnant women are regularly tested for urine infections and for germs in their urine. Even if they don’t have symptoms, if urine tests positive for germs, pregnant women are usually treated with antibiotics to prevent any complications.
In some cases people who have recurring urine infections are treated with a low dose of antibiotic continually. This may help to prevent recurrences and to prevent spread to the kidney.
Further reading and references
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Symptoms Of Kidney Infection
Symptoms of pyelonephritis often begin suddenly with chills, fever, pain in the lower part of the back on either side, nausea, and vomiting.
About one third of people with pyelonephritis also have symptoms of cystitis , including frequent, painful urination. One or both kidneys may be enlarged and painful, and doctors may find tenderness in the small of the back on the affected side. Sometimes the muscles of the abdomen are tightly contracted. Irritation from the infection or the passing of a kidney stone can cause spasms of the ureters. If the ureters go into spasms, people may experience episodes of intense pain . In children, symptoms of a kidney infection often are slight and more difficult to recognize. In older people, pyelonephritis may not cause any symptoms that seem to indicate a problem in the urinary tract. Instead, older people may have a decrease in mental function , fever, or an infection of the bloodstream .
In chronic pyelonephritis, the pain may be vague, and fever may come and go or not occur at all.
Can A Uti Go Away On Its Own
While it is possible for a urinary tract infection to improve over time, an antibiotic is usually needed to get rid of the infection fully.
When left untreated, the infection from a UTI can actually move throughout the bodybecoming very serious and even life threatening.
If you do not treat a bladder infection, it may turn into a kidney infection, which can then result in a more serious infection thats moved into the blood stream. When this happens, sepsis can occur, causing you to become very ill.
If you have symptoms that typically accompany a urinary tract infection, but arent sure if thats what youre really dealing with, its best to see a doctor to be properly diagnosed.
He or she can prescribe you an antibiotic that will have you feeling better in a matter of days.
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When To Seek Urgent Care Or Go To The Hospital
Some symptoms point to a more severe infection that needs prompt medical attention.
Go to an urgent care center or hospital if you have any of the symptoms below, which may or may not occur alongside the other UTI symptoms listed above:
- back or side pain
- nausea or vomiting
Kidney infections can cause potentially serious complications. If you feel like something isnt right, dont hesitate to seek care as soon as possible.
Without treatment, a kidney infection can cause serious complications. These can include:
What Do I Do If I Have One
If you notice any signs of a UTI or kidney infection, visit your doctor ASAP. He or she will probably take a urine sample, and possibly a blood test, and give you a prescription for antibiotics. Although over-the-counter pain-relievers like AZO can make you more comfortable while you wait for the drugs to kick in, they will not treat the infection.
Usually, antibiotics plus plenty of liquids will get you better in no time. And as with most things, the earlier its caught, the easier its treated and the faster youll recover.
While its true that some women do get UTIs more often than othersand some even get them chronicallyno one is immune. And unfortunately, infections dont care whether or not theres room for them on your calendar. As I learned, not everything gets better with time, tea, and wishful thinking. So keep a lookout for the symptoms, keep an open mind when self-diagnosing, and remember: if you dont take care of it now, youll pay for it later.
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Medication Options For Kidney Infection
Your doctor will decide what antibiotic to prescribe, and for how long, based on your symptoms and the results of your urine tests. Your doctor may start you on one medication right away, but change it later if your urine test results indicate that a different antibiotic will be more effective.
Drugs taken by mouth for kidney infection include:
All of these drugs and others may be considered for IV treatment if you need to be hospitalized for a severe kidney infection.
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.
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Who Gets Urinary Tract Infections
Anyone can get a urinary tract infection, but they are more common in women. This is because the urethra in females is shorter and closer to the anus, where E. coli bacteria are common. Older adults also are at higher risk for developing cystitis. This increased risk may be due to incomplete emptying of the bladder. There are several medical conditions that can be related to this, including an enlarged prostate or a bladder prolapse .
If you get frequent urinary tract infections, your healthcare provider may do tests to check for other health problems such as diabetes or an abnormal urinary systemthat may be contributing to your infections. People with frequent UTIs are occasionally given low-dose antibiotics for a period of time to prevent the infection from coming back. This cautious approach to treating frequent UTIs is because your body can develop a resistance to the antibiotic and you can get other types of infections, such as C. diff colitis. This practice is used very infrequently.
Prevention And Treatment Of Kidney Infection
Antibiotics are started as soon as the doctor suspects pyelonephritis and samples have been taken for laboratory tests. The choice of drug or its dosage may be modified based on the laboratory test results , how sick the person is, and whether the infection started in the hospital, where bacteria tend to be more resistant to antibiotics. Other factors that can alter the choice or dosage of drug include whether the person’s immune system is impaired and whether the person has a urinary tract abnormality .
Outpatient treatment with antibiotics given by mouth is usually successful if the person has:
No nausea or vomiting
No signs of dehydration
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Top Tips To Prevent Further Kidney Infections
Some of the things that may help include the following:
- Dont hold on to urine. Go to the toilet promptly
- Stay well hydrated and make sure you drink plenty of fluids every day
- Constipation can increase your chances of a bladder or kidney infection, so treat constipation promptly
- Empty your bladder after having sex
- Always make sure that you wipe from front to back after going to the toilet
- Avoid using feminine products such as deodorant sprays or douches in your genital area
Kimberly-Clark Australia makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical or other health professional advice.
Arnold, J., McLeod, N., Thani-Gasalam, R. and Rachid, P. . RACGP – Overactive bladder syndrome management and treatment options. Racgp.org.au. Available at:.
Bladderclinic.com.au, . Overactive Bladder . Available at:.
Cherney, K. . Home Remedies for Overactive Bladder. Healthline. Available at:.
Eilber, MD, K. . What Is The Difference Between A Small Bladder And An …. EmpowHER. Available at:
Prevention Tips For Women
- Urinate immediately after sexual intercourse. This is the best protection women have against UTIs, because it helps prevent bacteria from moving into the urethra.
- Avoid using condoms coated with spermicide or a diaphragm for birth control if your doctor believes they are causing you to get UTIs.
- Change sanitary napkins often.
- Wipe from front to back after using the toilet to avoid spreading bacteria from your anus to your urinary tract.
- Some women have found cranberry juice to be helpful, although the evidence from studies isn’t strong.
- If you get UTIs often, ask your doctor about taking antibiotics right after sexual intercourse to prevent recurrent UTIs.
- Post-menopausal women may want to ask their doctors about using vaginal estrogen to prevent recurrent UTIs.
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Cytokine Storms Can Destroy Kidney Tissue
The bodys reaction to the infection may be responsible as well. The immune response to the new coronavirus can be extreme in some people, leading to what is called a cytokine storm.
When that happens, the immune system sends a rush of cytokines into the body. Cytokines are small proteins that help the cells communicate as the immune system fights an infection. But this sudden, large influx of cytokines can cause severe inflammation. In trying to kill the invading virus, this inflammatory reaction can destroy healthy tissue, including that of the kidneys.
What Is The Treatment For A Kidney Infection
Kidney infections are treated with antibiotics. Your health care provider may tell you to take an antibiotic medicine that treats the most common types of infections, until your urine can be looked at to figure out the exact type of infection you have. Once your urine test results are available, your health care provider might tell you to take a different type of antibiotic, depending on the type of infection you have.
If you have a very serious infection, you may need to stay in the hospital to receive treatment.
If your kidney infection was caused by a problem with the shape of your urinary tract, you may need to have surgery to correct the problem and prevent future kidney infections.
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Infections Can Also Be Caused By:
- Kidney stones, enlarged prostates, and other conditions that obstruct the urinary tract, preventing proper emptying of urine from the body
- Spinal cord injury and other conditions that prevent you from properly emptying your bladder
- Menopause or medications that alter the hormones in your body, thus changing the bacterial environment in your urinary tract system
- Any condition that suppresses the immune system
- Certain sexually transmitted infections, including chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea, and mycoplasma
In rare cases, a virus or fungus can cause UTIs.
Follow Up With Your Doctor As Directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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Treatment If The Condition Gets Worse Or Recurs
If your urinary tract infection does not improve after treatment with antibiotics, you will need further evaluation and additional antibiotic treatment.
If the infection spreads and affects your kidney function or causes widespread infection , you will need hospital care. These complications are not common. And they rarely occur in people who are otherwise healthy.
A new infection, rather than a relapse of the same infection, usually is the cause of a UTI that keeps coming back .
- Women with recurrent bladder infections may be treated with preventive antibiotic therapy.
- Recurrent UTIs in men are usually a sign of prostate infection . Chronic prostatitis can be hard to treat. For more information, see the topic Prostatitis. Follow-up checkups are usually needed for men who have UTIs and are always needed if the infection recurs.
How Are Urinary Tract Infections Diagnosed
Your doctor will use the following tests to diagnose a urinary tract infection:
- Urinalysis: This test will examine the urine for red blood cells, white blood cells and bacteria. The number of white and red blood cells found in your urine can actually indicate an infection.
- Urine culture: A urine culture is used to determine the type of bacteria in your urine. This is an important test because it helps determine the appropriate treatment.
If your infection does not respond to treatment or if you keep getting infections over and over again, your doctor may use the following tests to examine your urinary tract for disease or injury:
- Ultrasound: In this test, sound waves create an image of the internal organs. This test is done on top of your skin, is painless and doesnt typically need any preparation.
- Cystoscopy: This test uses a special instrument fitted with a lens and a light source to see inside the bladder from the urethra.
- CT scan: Another imaging test, a CT scan is a type of X-ray that takes cross sections of the body . This test is much more precise than typical X-rays.
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How Long Does A Uti Last
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If you have a UTI, its best to get it treated right away before any complications develop . Its possible for a UTI to get better on its own, but most of the time, it wont. While home remedies can help ease some of the discomfort, a doctor can prescribe you an antibiotic that is a much quicker and more effective treatment. An antibiotic will start working immediately and, depending on how complicated your UTI is, may clear it up in a matter of days. Be sure to always take your medication how your doctor prescribes.