Kidney Infection

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What Is a Kidney Infection?

Kidney Infection is a condition where inflammation damages the interstitial tissue of the kidneys and cells of the renal tubules. Kidney infection, if left untreated or poorly treated, can lead to irreversible kidney damage and, consequently, to their failure.

Kidneys – where are they located, and what are their functions?

The kidneysTrusted Sourceare two organs situated in the retroperitoneal space of the abdominal cavity. They are part of the urinary system. However, their functions are not limited to urine production. The kidneys are vital for maintaining balance in the body. It happens through the process of homeostasis. They also participate in the production and deactivation of certain hormones. 

The kidneys are situated on either side of the spine. The left one is usually located higher than the right kidney.

The basic structural units of the kidney are nephrons, in which the renal corpuscle (glomerulus, Bowman’s capsule) and renal tubule (proximal tubule, loop of Henle, and distal tubule) are distinguished. In the glomerulus, there is an arterio-arterial network surrounded by the Bowman’s capsule. The pressure difference in the arterio-arterial network leads to the seepage of fluid, called primary urine, into the Bowman’s capsule.

Then, in the proximal tubule, there is an obligatory absorption of the components necessary for the body, which were found in the primary urine. In the next stage, which takes place in the loop of Henle, urine concentration takes place, followed by urine dilution. The distal convoluted tubule is responsible for facultative resorption, depending on the current needs of the organism. 

This is how urine is produced. In addition to water, the liquid contains sodium, hydrogen, and potassium ions. It also has urea, uric acid, bilirubin, and other metabolic waste products.

Other kidney functionsTrusted Sourceinclude:

Kidney pain

Kidney painTrusted Sourceis pain located in the abdomen, on both sides of the spine, in the lumbar region – where the kidneys are.

Pain intensity varies. Kidney pain can come on very suddenly and worsen over the next few hours or days (this is acute kidney pain, also often referred to as kidney colic). It can also last for weeks or even years, appearing only in certain situations and not causing much discomfort.

The type of pain – and its cause – is always determined by the doctor based on the symptoms and test results.

The most common cause of kidney pain is kidney inflammation, which leads to the infection of this organ.

Pyelonephritis – causes and risk factors

One possible cause of acute pyelonephritisTrusted Sourceis infection with:

Acute pyelonephritisTrusted Sourcecan also be the result of pathogenic microorganisms entering the kidneys through the blood.

Chronic pyelonephritisTrusted Sourceis caused by repeated occurrences of acute pyelonephritis. Additionally, it can occur due to an untreated or inadequately treated infection of the urethra or bladder. It is when bacteria that remain in the urinary tract travel through the ureter to the kidney and cause inflammation.

The risk factorsTrusted Sourcecontributing to the disease are:

What are other kidney diseases?

Kidney ailments can not only indicate infection – but also the development of other serious medical problems.

The most common kidney diseasesTrusted Sourceinclude:

Developmental defects can include the absence of a kidney, the presence of an extra kidney (also known as a third kidney), or an abnormal kidney shape. Fortunately, having only one healthy kidney is sufficient for a person to function normally.

A greater risk is kidney failureTrusted Sourceor other related conditions, such as:

Treatment of kidney disease largely depends on its cause. If the source of kidney damage is known, it is necessary to strive to remove it (e.g., stop bleeding, get rid of the obstruction to urine outflow, or stop using nephrotoxic drugs). It is worth remembering about treatment that inhibits the progression of chronic kidney disease, treatment of comorbidities, prevention of complications, and nutritional diet.

Pyelonephritis – symptoms

In the acute form of the disease, the dominant symptom is a sudden, sharp pain in the lumbar region (one or two sides), which may radiate to the groin. In addition, symptomsTrusted Sourcecharacteristic of inflammation of the lower urinary tract appear:

Some symptomsTrusted Sourceknown as dysuria include painful urination, frequent urges to urinate with a burning sensation, and blood in the urine.

The characteristic sign of kidney inflammation is the positive Goldflam’s sign. The patient experiences severe pain when the doctor hits the lumbar region of the back. If the inflammation is the result of unresolved cystitis, the patient may also experience discomfort when pressing the suprapubic area.

The chronic form is oligosymptomatic or asymptomatic, up to the advanced stage of chronic renal failure.

If you do not treat chronic pyelonephritis it can lead to chronic kidney failure. Then it is necessary for renal replacement therapy (most often dialysis). In certain situations, a kidney transplant could be necessary. It can save your life. It’s crucial to promptly treat a urinary tract infection to avoid the inflammation from extending to the kidneys.

Kidney Infection: What Is, Symptoms, Treatment, and More

Pyelonephritis – diagnosis

First, in diagnosisTrusted Source, a urine test is performed. Proteinuria and more or less severe hematuria are common. The increase in the number of white blood cells and bacteria in the urine is moderate. In blood tests, elevated CRP and ESR indicate inflammation. There is also leucocytosis and an increase in urea, which demonstrates kidney dysfunction. Simultaneous growth 

in creatinine levels may also indicate kidney damage.

In a patient with suspected pyelonephritis, an ultrasound examination is also performed, showing the kidneys (in the course of the disease, they are shrunken, and their surface is irregular due to many scarring of the interstitial tissue).

In rare cases, the doctor decides to perform a kidney biopsy.

Pyelonephritis – treatment

Usually in treatmentTrusted Source, antibiotic therapy is used, which lasts about two weeks. First, the patient receives antibiotics most commonly used for urinary tract infections. The right ones are selected based on the results of the urine test. When choosing an antibiotic – consider the type of bacteria in the urine and its sensitivity to the drug. In addition, antipyretics and painkillers are recommended. During the illness, you should limit physical activity and take approximately 2 liters of fluids a day.

Surgical treatment may be necessary if the disease is caused by urinary outflow disorders (e.g., in the course of kidney stones). It aims to insert a catheter into the bladder (so-called bladder catheterization) or the ureter through the urethra (so-called ureter probing) and even puncture of the kidney (when there was stagnation of urine in the kidney).

Kidney infection – home treatment

Taking treatment of kidney diseases too late or using incorrect forms of therapy can lead to severe health consequences, so you should not try to treat kidney infections with unproven methods. If you notice disturbing symptoms, it is worth visiting a nephrologist – an experienced specialist knows how to treat the kidneys and what types of therapy will give the best chance for a full recovery.

Kidneys are a significant organ in our body and neglecting them can result in serious health problems. It is worth taking care of the health of the kidneys, especially since the symptoms of their failure may not be felt for a long time, and when they appear, treatment is very challenging. Check out seven tips to help improve kidney health.

Adequate hydration is significant for the kidneys

DrinkingTrusted Sourcethe right amount of fluids is significant for keeping your kidneys healthy. It is worth remembering that optimal fluid intake depends, among others, on climate, physical activity, and health. 

Experts suggest consuming approximately 2 liters of fluids daily. The exception is dehydrating drinks – cola, energy drinks, or coffee – we do not include them in the balance of daily fluid consumption.

Kidney Infection: What Is, Symptoms, Treatment, and More

Healthy eating habits are significant for the kidneys

Eating healthyTrusted Sourcehas a beneficial impact on both the kidneys and overall bodily functions. Make sure to incorporate into your diet:

Limit salt in favor of herbal mixtures (check the labels to see if they contain salt), bake more often than fry, limit sugar, give up trans fats, fast food.

To improve your blood pressure, consider making adjustments to your diet. Doing so can lower the risk of developing heart disease. It is also helpful in preventing diabetes.

The relationship between physical activity and kidney health

Regular physical activityTrusted Source– even 30 minutes a day – will positively affect the health of the kidneys and the whole body. Physical exercise is conducive to maintaining a healthy weight, supports the work of the heart, and regulates blood pressure. If so far you have chosen rather couch mode, start with walks and gradually introduce new activities. It is worth trying different things and checking which type of physical activity is the most suitable for us.

Quitting smoking is crucial for kidney health

Cigarette smokingTrusted Source, including e-cigarettes, can harm blood vessels. In addition to affecting the kidneys, this can also impact blood circulation in other organs. Impaired blood flow prevents the kidneys from functioning at an optimal level. Smoking poses a heightened risk of developing high blood pressure and kidney cancer.

Reducing alcohol consumption

Drinking too much alcoholTrusted Sourcecan raise your blood pressure. It also adds unnecessary calories to your diet. If you drink alcohol, limit your consumption, and preferably stop drinking altogether. Excess alcohol causes changes in the functioning of the kidneys and reduces their filtration capacity. Regular heavy alcohol consumption can increase the risk of chronic kidney disease.

Restriction of over-the-counter drugs

Taking regular over-the-counter pillsTrusted Sourcecan potentially harm your kidneys. It is in the case of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – if they are taken regularly for a long period. If your kidneys are healthy and you use these painkillers occasionally, this is not a threat. Always read the package description. And if in doubt, ask a specialist.

Regular examinations

If you belong to one or more risk groups for kidney disease, do not forget about regular examinationsTrusted Source. Start with a simple blood pressure measurement – especially important in those with a history of hypertension. Damage to the glomeruli in the kidneys can be caused by high blood pressure.

Kidney Infection: What Is, Symptoms, Treatment, and More

Another test that should be done regularly is the urine protein test. The presence of a certain protein called albumin in urine can signify the onset of kidney disease. When albumin and other proteins are consistently found in urine (proteinuria), it is a sign of kidney damage.

It’s significant to check your glomerular filtration rate through a blood test. It can be determined by checking your creatinine level. If the test results are not in the normes, it’s recommended to consult with a doctor. Remember not to interpret the results on your own – always ask a specialist to do it.


July 11, 2023
11 minutes read

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