A kidney infection -which is known as pyelonephritis in the medical field – is a serious condition that requires immediate medical assistance because if it is left untreated it can cause damage to the kidneys that is irreversible and the infection may enter the bloodstream causing a potentially life threatening condition.
What Are Kidney Infections?
A kidney infection is a “UTI” or “urinary tract infection” that initially starts within the bladder or urethra and spreads or moves upwards into the kidneys. Antibiotics are the primary form of treatment for a kidney infection; however, in many cases a kidney infection will also require hospitalization.
Causes and Symptoms of a Kidney Infection or Pyelonephritis
The most common cause of a kidney infection is bacteria that has passed through the urethra into the urinary tract and multiplies spreading to the kidneys. While it is possible for a kidney infection to occur when an infection has entered the bloodstream from another area within the body and spreads to the kidneys, this is a rare occurrence but is sometimes seen in individuals who have had surgeries to replace a heart valve or joint and this “foreign” matter in the body becomes infected.
The list below includes the signs and symptoms that are associated with a kidney problem. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms you should contact your primary care physician or health care provider for an evaluation as soon as possible:
Constant and strong urges to urinate.
Pain and burning when urinating.
Pain that occurs in the abdomen, side – flank -, back, or groin area.
Hematuria (blood) or pus in the urine
Treatment and Prevention
Treatment for a kidney infection will typically consist of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor and the symptoms generally go away within a few days, however, in more serious cases a hospital stay may be required and treatment will be given in the form of antibiotics through and IV or intravenous tube.
For individuals who experience recurring infections, a physician will typically refer them to a specialist that may be able to determine and treat the underlying cause. There are several precautions that can be taken in order to prevent a kidney infection that include:
Drinking plenty of fluids – particularly water – as this will help flush out the bacteria in the body through urination.
Urinate frequently and avoid holding back when you have the urge to urinate.
Women should be especially careful when they wipe after urinating and only wipe from front to back to avoid any bacteria from the anal area entering into the urethra.
The area around the anus and vagina should be washed on a daily basis, however, avoid the use of soaps that are harsh and wash this area gently as the skin in this area is sensitive and has the potential to become irritated.
The bladder should always be emptied after sexual intercourse to clear the bacteria from the urethra as this reduces the risk of infection.
The use of feminine products should be avoided in the area of the genitals as these have a tendency to irritate the urethra. These products include douches and feminine sprays.