Kidney infection, medically known as renal infection or pyelonephritis, is a common urinary tract infection caused by bacteria that travels from your bladder, ureters or urethra into one or both of your kidneys. A disease more prevalent in women, it is estimated that kidney infections affect every 3 to 4 men and 15 to 17 in women in every 10,000 individuals.
If not treated quickly, kidney infection usually leads to permanent kidney damage. The infection can also spread across to other parts of your body, causing various other serious infections like sepsis (blood poisoning) or an abscess (pus in the kidney).
Symptoms of Kidney Infection
People suffering from kidney infection may exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:
- Pain in the back, side(s) or groin
- Frequent urination
- An uncontrollable urge to urinate, even if you just went
- Inability to urinate fully
- Pain or burning sensation while urinating
- Pus or blood in your urine
- Cloudy or bad-smelling urine
Seniors, however, might exhibit altogether different symptoms, which include:
- Jumbled speech
What Causes Kidney Infection?
A kidney infection is caused by bacteria that enters your urethra and travels all the way up to your kidneys, triggering an infection. While this is the most common way of kidney infection, a bacterial infection elsewhere in your body can also spread through your bloodstream to your kidneys, causing moderate to severe kidney infection.
While it can happen to anyone, here are some of the risk factors that increase your predisposition to kidney infection:
Poor toilet hygiene or using soiled, unclean washrooms or toilet seats can lead to bacterial infection that may work its way up to the kidneys, causing kidney infection. The infection could also occur through toilet papers that are used to clean the anus.
The urethra in women is shorter than that in men. This makes it easy for bacteria to travel to the bladder. Also, the nearness of the urethra to the vagina makes it easier for bacteria to enter the bladder, which then eventually reaches and spreads in the kidneys.
People with kidney stones are at high risk of developing kidney infections.
A continuous use of urinary catheter, due to a surgical procedure or a prolonged ailment that confines you to a bed, may also lead to kidney infections.
Males, especially those above 60 years, with an enlarged prostate have an increased risk of developing kidney infections.
Urinary Tract Blockage
The slow or incomplete flow of urine due to kidney stones, enlarged prostate or abnormal structure of urinary tract also make you susceptible to kidney infections.
Weakened Immune System
People with weak or impaired immune system due to medical conditions like diabetes, HIV, or organ transplant also show an increased risk of developing kidney infections.
Complications of Kidney Infection
If left undiagnosed or untreated, a kidney infection can lead to serious complications as well as complete disruption of kidney functions leading to kidney failure. Some of the complications that may develop due to kidney infection include:
- Kidney Scarring: This can lead to chronic kidney disease and kidney failure.
- Blood Poisoning (Sepsis): Due to kidney infection, your kidneys might not be able to filter waste from your blood. This leads to accumulation of waste in your blood along with the bacterial infection, which then spreads to the other parts of your body through your bloodstream.
- Pregnancy complications: Kidney infection during pregnancy may lead to an increased risk of delivering low birth weight babies.
Ways to Prevent Kidney Disease
The best way to prevent kidney infection is by reducing your risk of developing urinary tract infections. The easiest way to do this is by:
- Staying Hydrated – Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. It can help you to remove bacteria from your body through regular urination.
- Urinate Whenever There is an Urge – Urinate as soon as you need to. Avoiding, controlling, or delaying urination make you more susceptible to urinary bladder and urinary tract infections.
- Maintain Hygiene During and After Sexual Intercourse – Urinate after sexual intercourse. Empting the bladder after intercourse helps clear bacteria from the urethra, reducing your chances of infection.
- Eat Plenty of Fiber – Constipation increases your risk of developing a kidney infection. Eating a fiber-rich diet helps you to regulate your bowel movement, allowing you to prevent skin lesions around anus and bacterial infection.
- Get Your Kidneys Screened for Infections – If you are suffering from recurring urinary tract infections, kidney stones, enlarged prostate or a disease that could weaken your immune system, it is important to speak to your primary care physician and get your kidney function test done at regular intervals. It can help you screen your kidneys for any potential infection that could lead to a serious kidney disease.
At EPIC Health, we offer comprehensive screenings for kidney disease detection and prevention. Our expert team of urologists study your existing health condition and symptoms before advising various diagnostic tests and procedures to score out any potential bacterial infection that may affect your kidneys’ function. Through personalized diet and medicinal support, our healthcare professionals can help you understand and treat the disease as well as manage your condition in the best way possible. Our certified dieticians and healthcare professionals can also help you adopt healthy eating habits and good lifestyle practices to minimize your risk of developing kidney infections at any stage of your life.