Kidney infection develops when an infection of the urinary tract spreads to the kidneys. It is a serious medical condition that can lead to kidney damage if not treated on time.
Why Kidney Infection Develops?
The urinary tract is composed of the bladder, urethra, ureters and kidneys. In the process of digestion, waste products remain in the blood. The kidneys process blood to remove extra water and waste products, called urea. These compounds form urine, which flows from the kidneys to the bladder via the ureters. The bladder stores urine until it releases through the urethra while urinating. Infection in the urinary tract is most commonly caused by Escherichia coli, bacteria that are normally found in the colon. The bacteria can easily spread from the anus to the urethra when contaminated toilet paper comes into contact with the genitals. Once the bacteria get into the urethra, the infection can spread to the bladder and finally the kidneys. Infection in the kidneys can sometimes also develop due to skin infection. If bacteria or fungi that caused skin infection enter the bloodstream, it can ultimately result in kidney infection.
What are the Risk Factors?
Generally, women are more susceptible to kidney infection and other urinary tract infections. This is due to women’s shorter urethra and closer proximity of the urethra to the anus. Because of female anatomy, bacteria can without difficulty enter the urinary tract and infect the kidneys. Enlarged prostate increases the risk of kidney infection in men. People who have kidney stones are also at the risk of kidney infections. Weakened immune system due to chronic conditions like diabetes, HIV and cancer or use of certain medications such as chemotherapeutics and immunosuppressants increase the risk of the disease as well. Prolonged use of urinary catheter provides suitable environment for bacteria to multiply and spread to the kidneys. Also, any condition that causes urinary tract obstruction or a difficulty in urinating represents the risk of kidney infection.
Causes of Kidney Infection
Pyelonephritis is a common kidney infection that develops because of bacterial infection in the ascending urinary tract. The infection develops when bacteria reaches the pyelum, the pelvis of the kidney. Glomerulonephritis is a severe kidney infection that develops due to the inflammation of the glomeruli, tiny filters of the kidneys. Damage of the glomeruli may occur because of certain infections or diseases and it can eventually affect kidney’s ability to remove wastes.
Symptoms of Kidney Infection
One of the most common signs of kidney infection is burning sensation or pain while urinating. Sharp and stabbing pain in the lower back also indicates kidney infection. Another symptom of kidney infection is a fever that is mild in the early stage of the infection and significantly increases in advanced stage of the disease. Fatigue accompanies kidney infection too and like fever, it worsens as kidney infection advances.