Kidney Infections are caused by the spread of an untreated or aggressive Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), by the backflow of urine into the ureters (usually under a specific condition known as Reflux Nephropathy), a blockage (such as a kidney stone), and rarely from a surgical complication (an infection from a foreign object anywhere in the body, including catheters). Recurrence of kidney infections are more common than the initial infection, and more likely in general if there’s a history of Urinary Tract Infections or if you suffer from chronic Urinary Tract Infections.
To prevent a kidney infection, follow the same steps you would to prevent a urinary tract infection. Keep the genitals clean and dry, especially after sex and using the restroom (for women this means wiping front to back), drink plenty of water so that you urinate frequently, keeping bacteria from collecting. Drinking cranberry juice may also help prevent bacteria from accumulating. Take steps to strengthen your immune system, including getting all your recommended nutrients, exercising, and supplementing to fill any deficiencies.
If not treated quickly and thoroughly, Kidney Infections can lead to severe complications, including the infection spreading into sepsis (infection of the blood) or to other tissue, and kidney damage or failure. You are at an increased risk for a complication if you are pregnant, have diabetes, spinal paralysis (see next paragraph), or have a weakened immune system. Infants and the elderly are also at an increased risk for Kidney Infection complications.
Unfortunately, some people are at risk may not be able to detect or communicate when they are suffering from a Urinary Tract Infection, so it’s important to observe people in our care for signs Kidney Infection symptoms.
People suffering from dementia or other diminished mental capacity, such as the elderly, may show an increase in dementia or change in mental state. Others who may not realize they have a UTI include those with nerve damage that would prevent them from sensing the pain and other sensations in the pelvic region associated with kidney infection (or a UTI that may then turn into Kidney Infection).
Kidney Infection Symptoms include:
- Signs of a UTI (see: Bladder Infection)
- Burning or discomfort during Urination
- A burning need to urinate, leading to increased urination
- Strong, bad smelling urine, or urine that looks different (cloudy, bloody…)
- Kidney pain, or sensitivity to touch.
- Kidney pain’s location is the left and right of the lower back
- High Fever that last multiple days, and may be accompanied by the chills
- General Malaise and Fatigue
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Skin Changes:
- A flushed, reddish look
If symptoms worsen, and you start to produce less urine, get medical attention immediately. Here are the symptoms of two serious kidney infection complications to watch for:
Symptoms of Sepsis:
- Change in Body Temperature (can be high or low)
- Hyperventilating or Light Headedness
- Fluttering Heart
Symptoms of Kidney Failure:
- Increase in the severity of symptoms radiating to the entire body
- Bleeding (nose, mouth–metallic taste, urine, stool…)
- No urine production
- Swelling, Fluid Retention