Kidney Infection Symptoms & Treatments

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If you've ever had a kidney infection, you know how painful and frustrating it can be. Kidney infections are a type of urinary tract infection called pyelonephritis. The infection originally starts in the bladder or urethra but works its way up to the kidneys. Anyone suspecting he has a kidney infection should seek medical attention as soon as possible. A kidney infection left untreated can be life-threatening.

Causes

Kidneys are basically a body's filtering system. Depending on what's needed by the body, they either save or get rid of water from our system, as well as adjust the blood levels of certain substances passing through them. Urine is then produced, passing through our ureter tubes and into the bladder where it's stored until we pass it on through our urethra. A kidney infection happens when bacteria enters our systems through the urethra, multiplying and causing an infection. It's also possible for another infection in your body to spread to your kidneys through the bloodstream.

Symptoms

There can be many symptoms associated with a kidney infection. It's not uncommon to experience the need to urinate frequently, a burning sensation while urinating, abdominal pressure or pain, cloudy urine that is strongly odored, blood or pus in the urine, urine retention, pain in either the back, side or groin areas, as well as a fever.

If the kidney infection has become severe, a person may experience high fevers, chills, night sweats, extreme tiredness, nausea, vomiting or confusion. Many times in an older person, the only symptom of a kidney infection is confusion. If a child has a kidney infection, she will sometimes have symptoms of irritability, no appetite, loose stools and may start wetting the bed.

Diagnosis

Sometimes it's hard to differentiate between a kidney infection and a bladder infection. If you have a fever and pain in your upper back area, it can almost be assumed you are suffering from a kidney infection. Your doctor will take a urine sample to see if there's any bacteria, blood or pus in it. X-rays may be ordered if you find yourself constantly suffering from kidney infections.

Treatments

Kidney infections are usually treated with antibiotics. The severity of the infection will determine which drug and the length of time you will need to take it. The most common antibiotics used to treat kidney infections are Amoxil, Cipro, Noroxin, Bactrim and Septra. You will usually see the infection begin to clear within the first week of treatment, but finish the complete dose. Otherwise, the infection may not be completely eradicated. If there is an abnormality in the urinary tract, surgery may be required.

Risks

It's mandatory to seek medical attention at the first signs of a kidney infection. Infections that are untreated can lead to life-threatening conditions such as septicemia, as well as damaging your kidneys permanently. Since your kidneys are a filtering system for your body, the bacteria can spread throughout other regions through your bloodstream. Older adults and young children can suffer the most damage from an untreated kidney infection. Often this is because the infection was misinterpreted as another illness.

Prevention/Solution

A kidney infection cannot always be prevented, but there are steps to take to reduce the chances of getting one. Drink plenty of fluids to help flush your body of bacteria, and urinate often. Do not hold your urine if you feel the need to go to the bathroom. After having intercourse, empty the urine in your bladder to help reduce the chance of bacteria entering your system. If you seem susceptible to kidney or bladder infections, take a shower instead of a full bath. Women should always wipe from front to back. This will help keep bacteria from your anal region from entering your urethra and causing an infection. Avoid using feminine deodorant sprays, which might irritate the skin.

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