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Kidney Infection

Kidney infection is called as pyelonephritis in medical terms. It is a bacterial infection of the kidney.

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The following paragraphs will discuss more about kidney infection.

Overview of kidney infection

Renal infection, kidney infection or pyelonephritis, is a type of urinary tract infection (UTI). It is usually caused by E.coli bacteria infection. The infection begins in the bladder or urethra and spreads to one or both the kidneys. If not treated immediately, it could lead to serious complications. Antibiotics are the usual choice of treatment for kidney infection.

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Kidney infection is very common in women than men. This is because the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the kidneys to the bladder is shorter in women. Also, pregnant women have high chances of kidney infection as well as children under the age of 2 years. Older people over the age of 60 also develop kidney infection.

Symptoms of kidney infection

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The symptoms of kidney infection are generally acute, that is, develop rapidly.

The signs of kidney infection include:

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Those who suffer from chronic pyelonephritis, develop:

  • Persistant flank or abdominal pain
  • Fever of unknown origin
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Malaise
  • Reduced appetite
  • Blood in urine

Causes of kidney infection

Renal infection is usually due to lower urinary tract infections. The bacteria in the vagina, penis or anus can travel into the urethra and bladder. The women’s urethra is shorter than men’s urethra. This makes it very easy for bacteria in the vagina to enter the urethra and travel up to the bladder. Thus, women suffer from bladder infections more commonly than men.

When urethra and bladder infections spread to the kidney’s, it leads to pyelonephritis. During a bladder infection, the normal mechanism where the urine is prevented from travelling back into the kidney’s does not function well. This allows the infected urine to reach the kidneys, causing infection.

In some people with kidney stones, pyelonephritis is a very common infection.

Diagnosis of kidney infection

The diagnosis of kidney infection is carried out with the help of laboratory examinations. Urinalysis will help show presence of nitrate and WBCs that indicate kidney infection. Blood tests such as CBC indicates neutrophilia. Microbiological cultures help determine the causative agent.

Treatment of kidney infection

The main line of treatment for kidney infection is use of antibiotic medications. The antibiotics given include fluoroquinolones, cephalosporins, sulfamethoxazole, etc. One should drink plenty of fluids to help flush out the infecting bacteria from the body through urine. Also, it will help prevent fever and dehydration. In case of any pain, an analgesic will be prescribed. Those suffering from dehydration may be admitted in the hospital for a few days.

Complications of kidney infection

If left untreated, kidney infection can lead to the following complications:

  • Kidney abscess
  • Septicemia
  • Emphysematous pyelonephritis , a rare but fatal condition

Kidney infections can be prevented by drinking plenty of fluids. One should urinate immediately when they feel like it. Controlling urination increases chances of infection. Maintain toilet hygiene. Clean the anus from front to back, to avoid spread of germs. Eat more of fiber so that one does not constipate and suffer from skin lesions. These lesions increase one’s chances of urinary tract infection.

This is all about kidney infection. If you suffer from sudden lower back pain that radiates to the abdomen or develop a sudden fever, chills, painful urination, etc. visit your doctor immediately. The sooner kidney infections are treated, the better.

Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: March 29, 2015

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