A kidney infection is when bacteria have entered one or both of the kidneys, most likely from the urinary tract or bladder. Generally, the bacteria E. coli typically live in your bowel where they’re harmless. However, if the bacteria gets transferred from your behind to your urethra during sex or after using the bathroom, you can end up with a kidney infection. The symptoms of a kidney infection include fever and chills, a feeling of fatigue, loss of appetite, lower back or groin pain, upset stomach, and blood in your urine. The entire urinary system is sensitive to germs and bacteria, which can ultimately lead to infection. There are many causes of kidney infection.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
The urinary system is made up of the kidneys, the bladder, the ureters and the urethra. This group of organs filters out excess fluid and other waste products from the bloodstream which creates urine. The urine is excreted via the kidneys and is collected by the bladder and excreted by the urethra. A urinary tract infection occurs when germs and bacteria get inside the urinary system. This bacteria manifests and grows and causing redness, swelling and may cause a burning sensation when you urinate. Urinary tract infections can also be a source of acute pain in the abdomen. You may find that you need to go to the bathroom more frequently than usual or have trouble expelling urine at all. If you neglect to treat the infection, the bacteria may travel up to the kidneys and harm these vital organs. It’s important to treat a urinary tract infection when you first notice any symptoms. Don’t allow the bacteria a chance to spread. It can potentially damage your kidneys and cause life-threatening illnesses.
A kidney stone is a small hard cluster of substances such as calcium, uric acid, magnesium, ammonia, and oxalate. When the fluid in your urine cannot dilute them, these substances come together and crystallize forming kidney stones. These stones may be as small as a grain of sand, or as large as a pearl. Stones can form in any part of the urinary tract and can lead to a kidney infection. You don’t have to contract a bladder infection first to develop kidney stones. The crystalline materials act as a blockage in the ureters. Kidney stones don’t cause pain when they’re dormant and located in the kidney. However, when they pass from kidney to bladder, this can be extremely painful.
In men, the prostate surrounds the neck of the bladder which links to the reproductive system. If the prostate is infected, it can become enlarged. The pressure of the enlarged prostate interferes with the flow of urine as it chokes the part of the urethra where the urine flows out of the body. A prostatitis infection is the inflammation of the prostate gland. An enlarged prostate gland is also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and both these conditions can lead to kidney infections and damage. As you’ll have difficulty urinating when the prostate is infected, you may need either a catheter, medication or surgery to help return the system to function normally. It’s worth noting that men over the age of 50 may develop prostatic hyperplasia without developing kidney infections. A doctor may recommend surgery depending on whether or not the condition has a significant impact on your health and lifestyle.
Urinary retention is when a person can urinate, but not empty their bladder entirely. The symptom can be either obstructive or nonobstructive. This condition can cause other issues such as cancer, prostate issues, kidney stones, pelvic trauma, nerve disease, stroke and other structural defects within the urinary system. Symptoms often include pain in the lower back and discomfort or pressure in the lower abdomen. An urgent need to urinate, but also the inability to do so. Patients commonly experience an interrupted stream of urine and the inability to determine if the bladder is full or not. If you’ve been experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
When the spaces between the renal tubules that form urine swell and become inflamed, it can lead to a bladder infection. Diagnosed as interstitial nephritis which is either an acute or chronic infection. An allergic reaction to antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs or pain relievers causes nearly all cases of swollen tubes. The symptoms mirror those of kidney infection which include fever and chills, bloating, high blood pressure, water retention, and internal swelling. The swelling of the interstitium can make it difficult to urinate. There may be blood in the urine or significantly less urine than usual.
Urinary catheters are for patients who are unable to empty their bladders themselves: the catheter drains the bladder. Long-term indwelling catheters are permanent devices that help people with chronic illness or structural deficiencies. This kind of catheter may require changing and leaves the patient more susceptible to transferring bacteria to their kidneys and causing infection.
For people living with diabetes, the injury is to the small blood vessels in their bodies. If the blood vessels in the kidneys are damaged, the organs won’t function properly, and they cannot clean the blood in the way they should. This build-up may result in a surplus of waste materials in the body, like proteins in the urine, or excessive water and salt. Because of the high sugar levels in people with diabetes, this environment allows bacteria to grow faster. Bacteria feed off the sugars in the body and quickly expand. All of these factors can lead to kidney infection and disease. Many people with diabetes will eventually suffer from some form of kidney disease.
Vesicoureteral Reflux (VUR)
Typically, the flow of urine in the body runs from the kidneys, through to the ureters, and into the bladder. Vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) is when the urine flows backward from the bladder into the kidneys. There are two ways in which vesicoureteral reflux occurs. Primary VUR is a defect in the valve at the end of the urine tube, which is likely there from birth. Secondary vesicoureteral reflux is when there’s an obstruction in the urine tube blocking the fluid from its natural pathway. The obstacles are in the urethra or bladder which may be caused by a pinch, stone, tumor, or blockage from an injury. This interference causes the urine to stop and go backward. Some of the more common symptoms of VUR are urinary tract infections, fever, not being able to empty the bladder, and flu-like aches.
A urethral stricture is when there’s damage, such as a scar or swelling from an injury within the urethra tube. The trauma makes it difficult to urinate comfortably. The urethra is a fragile tube in both men and women. The urethra links to the bladder where it collects the waste products. It’s the job of the urethra to transport the urine outside of the body. The urethra is longer in men than in women. Due to the extended length of a man’s urethra, they’re more likely to experience posterior stricture in the first 1-2 inches of the tube, or an anterior stricture which happens in the last 9-10 inches of the urethra. This means there is damage to the tube of the urethra. Trauma can cause strictures in the urethra, along with sexually transmitted disease, persistent swelling, or damage from surgery.
Our nervous system is a complicated and delicate conglomeration of connections. Nerves carry messages throughout the entire body. In regards to a bladder infection, nerves send messages that the bladder is full from the bladder to the brain. These signals indicate to the individual when it’s time to use the restroom. It also works the other way around. The brain tells the bladder to control the muscles around the bladder and ureters to manage the release and flow of urine. A nerve problem in the brain or urinary tract may cause infection due to mixed or dismissed signals. This leads to holding urine in too long, not emptying the bladder completely, or incontinence. This condition is also called a neurogenic bladder.