Why You Shouldn’t Ignore a Kidney Infection

You can develop infections anywhere in your urinary tract. In most cases, they start in the urethra or bladder, but eventually, they can spread to one or both of your kidneys. When a urinary tract infection (UTI) progresses to your kidneys, you need antibiotics and sometimes even hospitalization.

Our team at Urology Associates of Southeastern North Carolina in Wilmington specializes in issues affecting the urinary system. This part of your body involves the urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys.

Here are signs of a UTI and why you shouldn’t ignore a kidney infection.

Recognizing a problem

Infections develop in your urinary tract when bacteria — most often E. coli — enter your body and start to multiply out of control. Americans experience around 6 million urinary tract infections each year, and about 250,000 involve the kidneys. 

Urinary tract infections don’t always cause symptoms, especially in the early stages. However, common signs of a problem include:

As an infection moves into your kidneys, it can trigger additional symptoms, such as:

Unfortunately, ignoring the symptoms can lead to dangerous complications.

The dangers of a kidney infection

Your kidneys have an important job: They remove toxins from your body. As a result, untreated kidney infections can lead to two very serious problems.

Kidney scarring

This problem is fairly self-explanatory. Basically, an infection can cause scarring that damages your kidneys. This complication puts you at risk of conditions like chronic kidney disease, kidney failure, and even high blood pressure.

Blood poisoning

Your kidneys filter waste from your body. However, the filtered blood gets returned back to your system. That means that when you have a kidney infection, the bacteria can spread throughout your entire body by way of your bloodstream.

When you have bacteria in your blood, it’s known as bacteremia or septicemia. When this infection becomes severe and potentially life-threatening, it’s known as sepsis. 

In addition to kidney scarring and blood poisoning, pregnant women with kidney infections have higher chances of delivering babies with low birth weights.

Treating kidney infections

If you have a kidney infection, the first step typically involves antibiotics, and you usually improve within a few days. However, for severe infections, we could recommend hospitalization. 

This approach enables us to deliver antibiotics and fluids intravenously, and the length of your hospital stay depends on the extent of your condition.

The best course of action for managing kidney infections involves preventing UTIs in the first place. Our team recommends:

These steps are especially important for women since they’re more prone to urinary tract infections than men.

Don’t ignore the signs of an infection. Contact our office in Wilmington, North Carolina, by calling 910-421-2505 or you can request an appointment online today.

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