Kidney Infection – Symptoms, Treatments, Preventions

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What Is a kidney Infection? 

Kidney infection is caused due to the entry of bacteria or viruses into the kidney through the urinary tract. Most kidney infections are caused due to the entrance of E. coli bacteria into the kidney. People are advised to get a medical test as early as possible.  

What is the urinary tract? 

The organs in the urinary tract plays a vital role in excreting liquid waste from the body. The urinary tract consists of the Kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. All these organs are essential for a healthy excretion process. Any defect in the function of these organs, the excretion process gets disrupted.

Kidneys

Kidneys are bean-shaped organs on each side of the upper abdomen that plays a significant role in excretion. They act as a central filter in the human body. They filter the liquid wastes from the blood and remove them in the form of urine through the urethra.

Not only the filtering process but also balancing the fluid and electrolyte, regulating blood pressure and maintaining the red blood cell count (RBC) are done by the kidneys.

Kidney infection is caused in either of the kidneys if bacteria enter through the ureter from the bladder.  

Ureters

Ureters are a duct-like structure that connects the kidneys and the bladder. The filtered liquid waste (urine) is passed to the bladder and excreted through this part.

If there is a change in its structure, or any tumours or blockages are seen in the ureters, the proper flow of the liquid waste will not take place. And so, the urine flows back to the Kidneys resulting in kidney infection.

Bladder

The bladder acts as a collecting unit which collects the liquid waste (urine) from the body. The collected urine is excreted through the urethra once the urge to urinate is felt.

When less urination or holding back the liquid waste, it will cause urinary tract infection (UTI), inflammation of the bladder (cystitis) and kidney infection.

Urethra

The liquid waste is carried through this tube from the bladder once the waste is completely collected.

This part is comparatively short for females than males. Due to that reason, females are more prone to kidney infection as the bacteria enters the kidney faster.

Symptoms of kidney infection

Symptoms of kidney infection

The following symptoms are observed in most people affected by kidney infection within two days. So, this will help you to know whether you have a kidney infection or not.

Blood or pus in your pee

The very first symptom is blood or pus is observed while you pee. If you see it, never delay a medical checkup because specific medications are provided to cure the infection in the early stage.

Fever and Chills  

A sudden feeling of fever and chills will occur without any reason. It is a symptom of urinary tract infection (UTI). When left untreated in the beginning, it leads to kidney infection.

Loss of Appetite

The oxyntomodulin is secreted from intestinal enteroendocrine cells. It is the hormone that satisfies your appetite once you consume food. This secretion fluctuates when bacteria or viruses infect your body. This fluctuation is observed during the early and middle stages of kidney infection. 

Pain in your lower back, side, or groin

A kidney infection causes pain in your lower back, side or groin. When the infection spreads from the bladder to kidney, it results in intolerable pain.

Upset stomach or vomiting

As bacteria or viruses enter your body, it disrupts your metabolism process. Due to that reason, the infected person will feel nausea and vomit.

Weakness or fatigue

As you lose appetite, your nutrition intake will decrease, resulting in weakness or fatigue. It is due to kidney infection caused by either bacteria or viruses.

Causes of kidney infection 

Apart from the E. coli bacteria, kidney infection is caused by other reasons also. Those reasons are discussed here for your better understanding.

Bacteria from an infection somewhere else in your body

When any bacteria or viruses infect a part of your body, they may spread to other body parts. If that infection affects the kidney function, it results in kidney infection.

Surgery of the bladder or kidneys

During surgery, bacteria in the outer atmosphere may enter your body and moves to the kidneys through the bloodstream. When the body’s immune system is healthy, those bacteria are eliminated through normal excretion.

Something blocking urine flow, such as a kidney stone or tumour in your urinary tract

If the urinary tract has an abnormal shape, it must be rectified with surgery. A kidney stone or tumour in the urinary tract will block the urine flow, resulting in a kidney infection.

Risk Factors of kidney infection  

Kidney infection has no age differentiation. It affects almost all age people. Some risk factors for kidney infection are listed below.

Gender

As discussed above, females have smaller urethra compared with males. Due to that reason, the entry of bacteria will be faster in females’ ureters than in males’, causing kidney infections. So, females are asked to take care of their hygiene, especially when they use public restrooms.

Urinary Tract Blockage

Tumours or stone in the urinary tract blocks the passage of urine through the urinary tract. It may cause a rare condition like a reversal of urine in the kidneys.

Damaged Nerves Around the Bladder

The nerves connecting the bladder and the brain through the spinal cord may not work in the usual way. This condition is called neurogenic bladder. Due to the neurogenic bladder condition, the liquid waste may not be excreted entirely from the bladder. As the urine is retained in the bladder, it causes urinary tract infections leading to kidney infections.   

Weakened Immune System

As a result of an infection or some diseases like AIDS or diabetes, or the intake of immunosuppressant medicines, the immune system may go weak, and it causes a kidney infection.

Urinary Catheter

A urinary catheter is a ductile tube used to drain the liquid waste (urine) from bladder to a drainage bag. It is used in the patients who are bedridden. During this process, the bacteria may enter the bladder and move to the kidney through ureter leading to kidney infection.

Treatments of kidney infection 

Antibiotics 

If the infection is light, it can be cured with antibiotics. Initially, the doctors will prescribe the general antibiotic pills before the diagnostic test results are out. Once the test results are known, the medication may change to more specific based on the bacterial or viral infection of the kidney.

plenty of Fluids

Drinking plenty of fluids will wash out the germs that pester the health and disrupt the kidney’s normal function. More fluid consumption will help you to prevent dehydration and fever. Depending on the infection, the intake recommendation may vary.

Pain Killers

Taking painkillers will help you to feel relieved. Make sure that the pain relievers are prescribed by the doctor. Taking painkillers without a doctor’s prescription may raise the risk of kidney problems. Having a consultation with the doctor is highly recommended.

Tests for kidney infections 

computed tomography Scan 

CT scan is done to get a 3D image of the urinary tract to identify the problem. This CT scan diagnoses a blockage in the urinary tract, and it is easy to know whether the blockage is treatable with surgery or medications.

Magnetic Resonance imaging

Without X rays, a body’s internal organs and its soft tissues are pictured using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Through MRI, the soft tissues of the urinary tract can be displayed.

Ultrasound

Using sound waves, an internal organ’s image is created. This process is observed in ultrasound scanning. This scan will also provide the urinary tract image to identify the damaged or infected area. These imaging procedures provide specific information that is hard to find in other imaging procedures.

Prevention of kidney infection 

Kidney infection can be prevented through certain steps followed regularly. The following tips will help you to avert kidney infection. Women are asked to follow these steps to lower the probability of kidney infection.

Drink Plenty of water

Drinking plenty of water will excrete the bacteria from the body, and it helps the kidney to function normally. So, drink plenty of water to remove the bacteria.

Add Some Cranberry

Usually, the bacteria enter the bladder and stick to the urinary tract wall. Adding some cranberry in your diet prevents urinary tract infections.

 A substance called proanthocyanidins present in cranberry prevents urinary tract infection from the bacteria sticking to the walls of the urinary tract. If the bacteria don’t stick to the walls, they will be flushed out when you use the restroom.  

Don’t use feminine hygiene sprays or douches

Preservatives like diazolidinyl urea, DMDM [dimethylol dimethyl] hydantoin, and contaminants like dioxins and furans, are used in the feminine hygiene sprays or douches. As the feminine parts are sensitive, such chemicals may cause urinary tract infections. When it is left untreated, it ends in kidney infection.  

Urinate when you have to

The nerves connecting the bladder and brain through the spinal cord carry a message that the bladder is full. And the brain sends the message to urinate (excrete the liquid waste through the urethra). If you retain the urine for so long, the germs in the liquid waste will infect the urinary tract and may cause kidney infection.

Urinating immediately after sex

Urinating immediately after sex may help to prevent urinary tract infection by flushing out the bacteria. This tip benefits female as they have a high probability of urinary tract infections. This process will not prevent sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy.  

Always Wipe From Front to Back

Never forget to wipe from front to back, as it prevents the spread of bacteria. The bacteria in the gut may enter the urinary tract through the urethra if it is done in the opposite direction.

Wear cotton underwear and avoid tight clothing

Moisture and warmth from your body may be trapped when you wear tight clothes. It is advised to wear cotton clothes, especially cotton underwear, to get better air to flow through your body.

10 Home remedies tips for kidney infections

Kidney infections can be treated with the listed home remedies and prescribed medications. These home remedies will increase kidney health and reduces the signs and symptoms.

  1. Drink water
  2. Drink cranberry juice
  3. Avoid caffeine and alcohol
  4. Intake of lactobacilli
  5. Vitamin C consumption
  6. Parsley juice
  7. Apple and apple juice
  8. Epsom salt bath
  9. Use pain relievers
  10. Apply heat

Let us discuss all these tips in detail here.

Drink a lot of water

Drinking a lot of water will wash out the bacteria sticking to the inner walls of the bladder and causing infection.

Drink Cranberry Juice

Adding cranberry to your diet in the form of juice (most people’s preference) will prevent urinary tract infection by blocking the bacteria sticking to the inner walls of the bladder.

Avoid Alcohol and Coffee 

It is okay to drink tea and coffee with low or no caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic that tends to excrete excess water from the body, leads to dehydration. So, drinking caffeinated coffee in a limited amount is advisable.

Take Probiotics

Intake of probiotics, especially lactobacilli will defend the urogenital flora (a bacteria found in the vagina that causes no harm). By dominating the urogenital flora, lactobacilli offend the uropathogens (external bacteria entered into the urinary tract). As it offends the uropathogens, no UTIs or kidney infection is caused.

Get Some Vitamin C 

Discussing with your doctor about the intake of vitamin C will be more beneficial as this may be safe for certain infections, but it may not be safe for certain medical conditions. Excess vitamin C intake may acidify the urine and irritate the inner lining of the urinary tract. You are asked to get the doctor’s opinion when you face this condition.

Try Parsely Juice

As parsley juice is a diuretic, it increases the urgency to urinate. Taking in a limited amount will help flush out the bacteria when urinating.

Consume Apple & Apple Juice

As apples and apple juice increase the acidity in the urine, it prevents the growth of bacteria. And so, the kidney or urinary tract infection is controlled.

Take an Epsom Salt Bath

Epsom salt in warm water will soothe the pain caused due to kidney infection. Taking an epsom salt bath will reduce the pain and relieve you from the side effect of kidney infection.

Use non-aspirin painkillers

Non-aspirin painkillers will help to relieve the pain caused by kidney infections. It is important to get the doctor’s prescription before buying the painkillers as some pain relievers will raise the risk of other kidney problems.

Apply Heat

As heat calms down the pain, heat pads are used. Be sure to place a cloth between heat pads and your skin to protect your skin from burning.

When to see a doctor? 

When you have a

  • cloudy, foul-smelling or bloody urine
  • Pain in your abdomen
  • Pain while urinating
  • Bladder pressure
  • Nausea or feeling unwell

You are asked to see a doctor.

Conclusion  

Kidney infection is treatable with antibiotics but left untreated, it may become a fatal problem. So following the tips and prevention methods to maintain your hygiene and prevent yourself from getting prone to urinary tract infections.

FAQ 

What if I don’t treat kidney infections?

If the kidney infection is left untreated, it may lead to chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure, kidney failure, and poisoning of the blood. So never neglect when you observe the symptoms of kidney infection.

How to cure kidney infection naturally?

Drinking plenty of water, adding cranberry to your diet, avoiding alcohol, consuming apples and apple juice, etc., will kill the kidney infection naturally.

 
How can you improve your kidney health? 

Your kidney health can be improved by
1. Having [capitalise] healthy meals,
2. Doing regular exercise
3. Getting enough sleep
4. Saying no to alcohol and smoking
5. Managing high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, etc.

How long does a kidney infection last? 

When treated with specific antibiotics after the diagnostic test in the initial or middle stage of kidney disease, most people feel completely alright after about 2-3 weeks. 

Does your urine change colour during a kidney infection? 

Not only kidney or urinary tract infections but also some liver infections can turn the colour of the urine dark brown.


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The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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