What Is a Kidney Infection?

Kidneys are the major organs of the urinary system and include ureters, urinary bladder and urethra. Infection that generally starts in the lower urinary tract spreads up to infect the kidneys. Infection of the kidneys is also termed as pyelonephritis. Kidney infection is associated with rapid burst of onset of the infection and also subsides in a similar manner. However, in some cases, the infection develops over a period of long time and persists for quite a long time. This sort of chronic kidney infection should be treated with antibiotics for quite a few weeks.

Kidney infection is usually a bacterial infection that spreads from the urinary system. The bacterial infection can be due to various causes such as retention of the urine due to kidney stones, the use of catheter to draw the urine, infection of the urinary bladder, surgery of the urinary tract and due to genetic defects that prevent the free flow of urine. Pregnant women, individuals with cancer and diabetes are at increased for kidney infections. Women become victims of kidney infection after having sex if the bacteria make their entry into the urinary system.

Symptoms that are associated with kidney infection are throbbing back pain that radiates to the side and to the groin region, increase in the frequency of urination but the efforts to urinate remain unsuccessful in cases of kidney stones and blockage of the urinary bladder, pain during urination if the urinary tract infection associates kidney infection, pus cells and blood may be seen in the urine, fever, nausea and vomiting. Increased use of antibiotics for treating the kidney infection causes fatigue in some people. Symptoms of kidney infection should be treated immediately as there is a risk of the infection spreading to the blood stream. This may sometimes lead to kidney failure.

Diagnosis of kidney infection is done with the help of urine analysis. This involves testing the urine sample for the presence of bacteria, pus cells, blood and casts that are tube shaped formations of white blood cells. A thorough analysis of the urine is done to eliminate the cases of yeast infections and kidney stones. Patients with kidney stones show increased secretion of oxalates or phosphates. In cases of severe infection x-rays are used to identify any abnormalities of kidney, urinary bladder and the ureters. Ultrasound picture are used to check for any abnormalities.

Simple bacterial infections can be treated by the use of antibiotics. But any obstruction in the urinary system needs surgical treatment. Increased consumption of water reduces infection by flushing the bacteria out of the system during the urination. If the person has kidney stones, he should be on a strict diet until the stones pass out. In cases of kidney failure, dialysis is used to purify the blood. If the symptoms of nausea are seen anti-nausea drugs are given. Pain killers may be given to relieve the throbbing back pain.

Whether it is a mild or chronic kidney infection, it should be diagnosed and treated immediately to prevent complete kidney failure. It takes about two weeks to cure mild infections and about months to cure chronic infections.

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