What is Kidney Infection?

Kidney infection, also known as pyelonephritis, is a type of urinary tract infection that occurs when bacteria enters the kidneys and infects the tissue. It is a serious condition that can lead to permanent damage to the kidneys if left untreated.

The urinary tract includes the bladder, ureters, and urethra, and is responsible for removing waste and excess fluids from the body in the form of urine. Normally, the urinary tract is able to prevent bacteria from entering the kidneys, but if the tract is blocked or not functioning properly, bacteria can enter the kidneys and cause an infection.

Kidney infections most often occur as a result of a bladder infection that has spread to the kidneys. Risk factors for developing a kidney infection include:

  • A weak immune system
  • A structural abnormality in the urinary tract
  • Being female (the female anatomy makes it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder and kidneys)
  • Being pregnant
  • Having a catheter in place
  • Having a history of urinary tract infections
  • Having an enlarged prostate
  • Having diabetes

Symptoms of a kidney infection may include:

  • Pain in the lower back, side, or groin
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Urinating frequently or in small amounts
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Cloudy or strong-smelling urine

Diagnosis of a kidney infection typically involves a physical examination, a review of symptoms, and various tests, including a urine test to check for bacteria and white blood cells, a blood test to check for an elevated white blood cell count, and imaging tests such as a CT scan or ultrasound to check for any structural abnormalities in the urinary tract.

Treatment for a kidney infection typically involves antibiotics to clear the infection and prevent further damage to the kidneys. In severe cases, hospitalization may be required for intravenous antibiotics and monitoring of kidney function. It is important to complete the full course of antibiotics as prescribed by a healthcare provider to ensure the infection is completely cleared.

Prevention of kidney infections includes maintaining good hygiene, wiping from front to back after using the bathroom, and drinking plenty of fluids to help flush bacteria from the urinary tract. Women can also take steps to prevent bladder infections, such as wearing cotton underwear, avoiding tight-fitting clothing, and avoiding using harsh soaps and douches. If you have a history of kidney infections or other risk factors, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about ways to reduce your risk.

Early detection and treatment of a kidney infection is crucial to prevent permanent damage to the kidneys. If you experience any symptoms of a kidney infection, it is important to see a healthcare provider promptly for proper evaluation and treatment.

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