A kidney infection, also known as pyelonephritis, is a type of urinary tract infection (UTI) that affects one or both kidneys. Kidney infections occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract and travel up to the kidneys. If left untreated, kidney infections can lead to serious health complications. Here’s how you can get a kidney infection and what you can do to prevent it.
Causes of Kidney Infections
The most common cause of kidney infections is the bacteria E. coli, which is normally found in the gastrointestinal tract. The bacteria can enter the urinary tract through the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine out of the body, and travel up to the bladder and kidneys. Other bacteria that can cause kidney infections include Klebsiella, Proteus, and Pseudomonas.
Kidney infections are more common in women than in men, as women have a shorter urethra that makes it easier for bacteria to enter the urinary tract. Other risk factors for kidney infections include:
Urinary Tract Obstruction
Anything that obstructs the flow of urine, such as a kidney stone, can increase the risk of kidney infections.
Weak Immune System
People with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or cancer, are more susceptible to kidney infections.
Pregnancy can increase the risk of kidney infections, as hormonal changes can affect the urinary tract and make it easier for bacteria to enter.
People who use urinary catheters, which are tubes inserted into the bladder to drain urine, are at a higher risk of developing kidney infections.
Symptoms of Kidney Infections
Kidney infections can cause a range of symptoms, which can vary from person to person. Some of the most common symptoms of kidney infections include:
Kidney infections can cause pain in the lower back or side, usually on one side of the body. The pain may be sharp or dull, and a fever may accompany it.
Kidney infections can also cause urinary symptoms, such as frequent urination, painful urination, or a strong urge to urinate.
Nausea and Vomiting
Kidney infections can cause nausea and vomiting, especially if the infection is severe.
Kidney infections can cause fatigue and weakness as the body is fighting off the infection.
In rare cases, kidney infections can cause confusion or changes in mental status, especially in older adults.
Prevention of Kidney Infections
Preventing kidney infections involves taking steps to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections. Here are some ways to prevent kidney infections:
Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking plenty of water can help flush bacteria out of the urinary tract and prevent infections.
Urinating frequently can help prevent the buildup of bacteria in the urinary tract.
Wipe Front to Back
When wiping after using the bathroom, always wipe from front to back to avoid spreading bacteria from the anus to the urinary tract.
Practice Safe Sex
Practicing safe sex can help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections, which can increase the risk of kidney infections.
Avoid using products that can irritate the urinary tract, such as douches, powders, and sprays.
Empty Your Bladder After Sex
Urinating after sex can help flush bacteria out of the urinary tract and prevent infections.
Maintain Good Hygiene
Maintain good hygiene by keeping the genital area clean and dry and wearing clean and breathable underwear.
Treat UTIs Promptly
If you have symptoms of a UTI, such as pain or burning