Symptoms Of Kidney Infection

Kidney Infection Symptoms in Men & Women?

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  • Post last modified:March 29, 2024

Your excretory system performs an important body function: throwing out toxins and other harmful chemicals from your body. If this body function is disturbed, then there can be tons of complications related to the kidney, like kidney infection. But, how do you know that you are suffering from Kidney infection? Well, we have got you covered and this blog is going to give details of symptoms of Kidney infection. 

What is Kidney Infection? 

A Kidney Infection, also known as pyelonephritis, is a type of urinary tract infection (UTI). The common cause of Kidney or UTI Infections is “Bacteria.” When these infectious micro-organisms move from other parts of your body, such as the bladder, up to one or both of your kidneys, UTI symptoms can occur.

However, you should know that Kidney infections can cause more serious health issues than lower UTIs. That is why it is important to see your healthcare provider if you experience the symptoms of kidney infection.

What are the Symptoms of Kidney Infection?

Everyone faces the same kind of symptoms of kidney infection. However, the frequency and time duration can vary depending on the severity. Generally, shallow symptoms start to occur within a few days of acquiring a kidney infection. Some of these include:-

  • Fevers (regular or frequent)
  • Body Chills and high blood pressure
  • A burning sensation during urination
  • Having an urge to urinate often
  • Pain in lower back or groin 
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pus or blood in the urine
  • Urine that smells bad or is cloudy
  • Pain in the lower abdomen

What Causes Kidney Infection?

Since we have discussed what kidney infection is and the symptoms of kidney infection, it is time to learn what actually “causes” kidney infections. Given that, here are some of its causes:-

The urinary or excretory system is built to throw the bacteria, toxins, and other body waste. However, problems can still occur if they stick to the tract walls. 

One such bacteria that can enter the urinary tract through the urethra is Escherichia coli (E. coli). These are generally found in the intestine or gut. They can travel up to the bladder and cause infection–cystitis (inflammation of the bladder). Given that, here is how it occurs:-

  • Escherichia coli or other bacteria travel up to the urinary bladder through the urethra.
  • This causes inflammation of the bladder–Cystitis. This is really common for women, resulting in 1-3% of adult women per year. 
  • If this condition persists (both for men and women), It can travel up to the kidneys. This is where UTI leads to the symptoms of kidney infection. About 1 in every 30 cases of UTI leads to a kidney infection.

Note: You are more likely to receive a kidney infection if you experience frequent UTIs. 

Other Causes Of Kidney Infection

The flow of urine is generally in one direction—from the kidneys to the bladder. Due to any reason, the path gets blocked, or the urine flows in a different direction, infection can happen. Then, the symptoms of kidney infection and other associated problems will follow, including:-

  • Kidney stones,
  • Tumors inside or outside the urinary tract 
  • Structural problems of the urinary tract

Note: Diabetic people and people with a weak immune system are at the greatest risk of UTIs and kidney infections. Pregnant women with this problem should immediately seek medical help. 

Risk factors associated with Kidney Infection 

Factors that can increase the chances of symptoms of kidney infection are:-

Being Female

Women tend to experience more complications than men when it comes to experiencing symptoms of kidney infection. This is because the urethra in females is shorter than in men. This makes it easier for bacteria to travel up to the bladder from the vagina or anus.

Urinary Tract Blockage 

If you have problems such as a kidney stone, narrowed urethra, or an enlarged prostate, you are at more risk of a kidney infection. This is because anything that slows the flow of urine can make it harder to empty the bladder fully.

Weak Immune System

Health conditions such as diabetes and HIV can compromise the immune system. This causes a higher chance of symptoms of kidney infection. Drugs, such as immuno-suppressants, are also responsible for it. 

Damage nerves around the bladder

This can be another reason for the symptoms of kidney infection. You may not feel the infection if nerves or spinal cord are damaged around the bladder.

Using a urinary catheter

People who have medical conditions that lead them to stay in bed require the use of a urinary catheter. They are tubes used to drain urine from the bladder, generally used after a surgical procedure or diagnostic test

Vesicoureteral Reflux

In vesicoureteral reflux, small drops of urine flow backward from the bladder to the connecting tubes of the kidneys. This condition puts a higher risk of symptoms of kidney infection. 

Diagnosis of Kidney Infection: 

Symptoms of kidney infection can be similar to many other problems in the pelvis and abdomen. One such problem is a common Urinary tract infection. That is why, if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, seek medical help for proper diagnosis. 

The following tests are done to identify urinary tract infection:-

  • Diagnosis of the medical history, analysis of your symptoms, when they began, and overall health checkup.
  • Physical and medical examination, including blood and urine sample collection. Your doctor may press your abdomen to search for tenderness.
  • Urinalysis Test to look for signs of infection. Here, high counts of white blood cells and bacteria indicate infection.
  • Conducting a Urine culture test to determine the best antibiotic to use. 
  • Blood culture tests are conducted to check if your infection has spread to the blood.
  • Computed tomography (CT scan) can show detailed 3D images of the urinary tract and kidneys to detect problems. 
  • Kidney ultrasound can help locate any wounds, stones, or other blockages in the urinary tract. 
  • Voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) is an x-ray image of the bladder and urethra taken when the bladder is full of urine. It can show problems in the urethra and bladder.
  • Digital rectal examination (DRE) is a physical prostate exam. It is conducted to look for kidney infections in men. 
  • Dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) scintigraphy is a test that uses small amounts of radioactive material to determine the functionality of the kidneys. 

What is the treatment for a Kidney Infection?

Treatment for a kidney infection includes proper diagnosis, medicines, medical procedures, and aftercare. Given that, here is what you should do:-

  1. Look out for your health condition and check your symptoms of kidney infection.
  2. If they match with any one of the listed above, then contact your healthcare provider straight away.
  3. Your medical specialist may run a physical examination and test to confirm a kidney infection. 
  4. If the test comes positive for a UTI infection or kidney infection, then you may be put on antibiotics. This is the first line of treatment.
  5. The duration and course will depend on the severity of the infection– this is best determined by your doctor. 

Doctors prescribe antibiotic medicines based on the following:

  • Type of bacteria causing the infection
  • Severity of the infection
  • Whether you are pregnant (symptoms of kidney infection in women with pregnancies are most chronic.
  • Your age–if you are older than 65 
  • Medical history–if you faced difficulty with certain antibiotics in the past, such as allergic reactions.

Common Antibiotics that treat Kidney Infection

Medical practitioners generally prescribe one or a combination of more antibiotics to treat a kidney infection. The first line of treatment generally includes the following antibiotics:-

  • Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX).
  • Amoxicillin or augmentin.
  • Ceftriaxone or cephalexin.
  • Ciprofloxacin or levofloxacin.

Key Preventive Measures of Kidney Infection: 

  • Drink Water
  • Practice Hygiene
  • Pee after having Sex
  • Use lubricated condoms for sex
  • Do not hold your urine
  • Try detox water
  • Wipe from front to back after bathroom
  • Avoid any lotions, deodorant sprays, and more in the groin area

In a Nutshell

If you have any symptoms of kidney infection, then you should connect with your healthcare provider right away. Even UTIs can cause severe kidney infections that may be difficult to treat if they remain long. That is why you should practice preventive measures and regularly get health care check-ups.

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