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.
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.
It’s thought the bacteria can get into your urinary tract by accidentally spreading from your anus to your urethra. This can happen if you wipe your bottom after going to the toilet and the soiled toilet paper comes into contact with your genitals. It can also happen during sex.
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.
Who’s Most Likely To Get A Kidney Infection
Women and children are most at risk of developing a kidney infection, as well as other urinary tract infections such as cystitis.
In women, the urethra is closer to the anus than in men, making it easier for bacteria from the anus to enter the urethra accidentally. The female urethra is also much shorter than the male urethra . This makes it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder and move into the kidneys.
Other factors can also put you more at risk of developing a kidney infection, including:
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Treatments For Kidney Infections
Kidney infections in men or women will typically require antibiotics. Donât rely on home remedies alone to take care of kidney infections.
Usually, doctors will prescribe empiric antibiotics to cover all the bases of potential bacteria that initially caused the infection until they can target the specific bacteria causing the infection.
A variety of available antibiotics are usually prescribed for at least a full week. Normally, you wonât require a stay at a hospital for a kidney infection if you can move around and consistently keep down oral antibiotics.
If you exhibit severe symptoms, including kidney infection symptoms or back pain, or cannot keep down the medication due to constant vomiting, you may be hospitalized so that your doctor may administer antibiotics and fluids intravenously.
Pregnant women are most at risk of needing such additional care and may be recommended to stay in the hospital for careful monitoring.
Other people that may require hospital stays as a result of kidney infections include those with sickle cell anemia, people aged 60 or over, patients in severe pain, and those experiencing severe vomiting.
If the kidney infection progresses enough to create an abscess in the kidney, you may require more serious treatment.
Causes And Risk Factors Of A Kidney Infection
Kidney infections can be caused by bacteria or viruses that spread in your urinary tract, but bacterial infections are much more common.
In fact, about 90 percent of kidney infections are caused by a single type of bacteria, Eschericia coli, or E. coli, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
The infection is thought to occur from bacteria that travel from your gastrointestinal tract to your skin surface, through your urethra to your bladder, then through the tubes that connect your bladder and kidneys.
Normally, urine flushes any potentially harmful bacteria out of your ureters before they can cause an infection. But sometimes this doesnt happen due to the following conditions:
- Structural abnormalities in your ureters or kidneys
- Enlarged prostate
- Urine backflow from your bladder to your kidneys
Its also possible for bacteria from your bloodstream to enter your kidneys and cause an infection. This happens most commonly with staphylococcus, or staph, bacteria.
Kidney infections that spread from your bloodstream tend to develop after surgery or as a consequence of another infection elsewhere in the body. For example, if an artificial joint or heart valve becomes infected, the kidneys can become secondarily infected.
Its very uncommon for kidney surgery to lead to a kidney infection.
A number of factors can increase your risk of developing a kidney infection:
This reduced urine flow can make it easier for bacteria in your bladder to migrate into your kidneys.
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Use Your Health Insurance Just Like You Normally Would To See Your Doctor
During your UTI treatment, you can take steps to ensure that you get the maximum effect out of your antibiotics while promoting your own comfort.
- Use a heating pad on your abdomen to soothe any pain and discomfort and relieve pressure.
- Drink plenty of water to help flush out the bacteria in your urinary tract.
- Avoid any food and drink that may irritate your urinary system. This includes coffee, alcohol, and sugary sodas that contain citrus juice or caffeine.
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.
What Is The Function Of The Kidneys
The excess waste products and excess fluid are removed when the kidneys produce urine that is excreted from the body. Moreover, the kidneys play an important role in the regulation of the body’s salt, potassium, and acid content.
What Causes Kidney Disease
We live in a world filled with unavoidable chemicals, toxins, and corrosive materials, things that overload our kidneys and force them to work harder than they should. Beyond filtering toxins from your blood, your kidneys are also
- Overseeing distribution of important minerals.
- Regulating your acid/alkaline balance to keep your body from becoming too acidic.
- Managing your bodys fluid levels.
- Releasing three essential hormones involved in blood pressure, bone building, and maintaining healthy red blood cells, among their other duties.
In addition, dehydration remains a problem for the majority of peopleif youre not drinking plenty of fresh, filtered water every day, you could be putting your own kidneys at risk. That’s why it’s important to remain vigilant and find ways to support your body’s built-in filtering system.
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What Are The Common Side Effects Of Kidney Infection Medications
Most antibiotics cause gastrointestinal problems including upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite. All antibiotics can cause a serious secondary diarrheal infection due to a bacteria known as Clostridium difficile. The most serious side effects of fluoroquinolones are psychiatric disorders, heart problems, and tendon problems.
Analgesics like acetaminophen are relatively safe when taken as directed. The most common side effects are gastrointestinal: nausea, stomach pain, and loss of appetite. Acetaminophen, however, can be toxic in excess. Acetaminophen overdose damages the liver and could require emergency treatment and hospitalization.
Side effects will vary based on the medication. This is not a complete list, and you should consult with a healthcare professional for possible side effects and drug interactions based on your specific situation.
Consume Apples And Apple Juice
Apples are also nutrient-dense. Their high acid content may help the kidneys to maintain acidity in the urine, possibly inhibiting further growth of bacteria. They also have anti-inflammatory properties, which may be beneficial in helping the kidneys to heal following the infection. Learn more about the many health benefits of apples.
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Symptoms Of A Kidney Infection
Kidney infection symptoms can develop quickly. Signs of kidney infection may include:
- pain in your back or sides
- a fever and chills
- feeling sick or being sick
- generally feeling unwell with flu-like symptoms
You may often notice symptoms of a lower urinary tract infection before developing a kidney infection. These may include needing to pee urgently, a burning or stinging feeling when you pee, and sometimes blood in your urine.
If you have any of these symptoms, contact your GP.
With our GP services, we aim to give you an appointment the same day, subject to availability. Find out more about our GP services >
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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Why Are Women More Likely To Get A Uti
The reason that women get urinary tract infections more often is due to their anatomy. Their urethras are much shorter than menâs urethras, allowing the bacteria to reach the bladder easier. A womanâs urethra is also closer to her anus, making it easier for the bacteria to enter the urinary system.
Through improper wiping, sexual intercourse, and even toilet backsplash, E. coli can potentially end up in your urinary system.
Kidney Infection Risk Factors
Anyone can get a kidney infection. But just as women get more bladder infections than men, they also get more kidney infections.
A womanâs urethra is shorter than a manâs, and itâs closer to their vagina and anus. That means itâs easier for bacteria or viruses to get into a womanâs urethra, and once they do, itâs a shorter trip to the bladder. From there, they can spread to the kidneys.
Pregnant women are even more likely to get bladder infections. This is because of hormone changes and because a baby puts pressure on the motherâs bladder and ureters and slows the flow of urine.
Any problem in your urinary tract that keeps pee from flowing as it should can raise your chances of a kidney infection, such as:
- A blockage in your urinary tract, like a kidney stone or enlarged prostate
- Conditions that keep your bladder from completely emptying
- A problem in the structure of your urinary tract, like a pinched urethra
- Vesicoureteral reflux , which is when pee flows backward from your bladder toward your kidneys
Youâre also more likely to get an infection if you have:
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Duration Of Kidney Infection
A kidney infection usually starts out as a urinary tract infection that affects the bladder. Theres no rule for how long it takes a UTI to spread from your bladder to your kidneys.
If left untreated, a kidney infection may not resolve on its own, potentially becoming a severe infection or leading to a chronic or recurrent infection, notes the Mayo Clinic.
When treated with antibiotics, you may start to feel better two to three days after starting the drug. Its important, though, to continue your treatment for the entire course thats prescribed.
For a mild kidney infection, treatment can last 7 to 14 days. It may take a week or longer for your symptoms to resolve with treatment.
A severe or complicated kidney infection may take much longer to treat, depending on how far the infection has spread and what other complications it has caused, according to MedlinePlus.
How Serious Is A Uti
Urinary tract infections can be painful and uncomfortable, but they ultimately donât pose a serious threat to your health as long as you seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
Read on to learn more about when urinary tract infections turn into kidney infections, the differences between the two, and what you can do to properly treat and prevent them.
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Kidney Infection Back Pain
Can kidney problems give you back pain? The main indicator of whether a urinary tract infection has migrated from the bladder to the kidneys is a fever and back pain.
Kidney infections are serious and require immediate medical attention. Its important to know the symptoms of a kidney infection so that you know when to seek treatment.
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.
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Ways To Keep Your Kidneys Healthy
Your kidneys are fist-sized organs located at the bottom of your rib cage, on both sides of your spine. They perform several functions.
Most importantly, they filter waste products, excess water, and other impurities from your blood. These waste products are stored in your bladder and later expelled through urine.
In addition, your kidneys regulate pH, salt, and potassium levels in your body. They also produce hormones that regulate blood pressure and control the production of red blood cells.
Your kidneys are also responsible for activating a form of vitamin D that helps your body absorb calcium for building bones and regulating muscle function.
Maintaining kidney health is important to your overall health and general well-being. By keeping your kidneys healthy, your body will filter and expel waste properly and produce hormones to help your body function properly.
Here are some tips to help keep your kidneys healthy.
Drink Plenty Of Water
Flushing bacteria from the kidneys is an important goal when a person has a kidney infection. Drinking at least six to eight, 8-ounce glasses of water a day can help, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
If a person has kidney failure, they may need to decrease this amount of fluid based on their doctors recommendations.
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Key Points To Remember
- The smaller a stone is, the more likely it is to pass on its own.
- The type of treatment you need depends on how big the stone is and how likely it is to pass on its own. If the stone will probably pass and you can control your pain with medicine, home treatment may be enough.
- If you can’t control your pain with medicine, or if the stone is blocking the urine flow, your best choice may be lithotripsy. Lithotripsy may work best for kidney stones that are still in the kidney or in the part of the ureter close to the kidney.
- You have options other than this procedure, but it is the most commonly used method because it works well and does not require surgery.
- You will probably not have lithotripsy if you are pregnant or have a bleeding disorder, kidney infection, urinary tract infection, kidney cancer, or some other kidney problems.
Prevention Is Key To Fighting Kidney Disease
Now that weve looked at the bad news, youll be happy to hear that theres a good side here, too, and it is this: For the most part, the conditions that lead to kidney problems are avoidable. And, often times, very avoidable.
A great way to start is by asking your health-care professional for blood panel readings of three key measures of kidney health: the BUN and creatinine levels and your eGFR numbers.
Here’s a quick overview of the two:
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