Pyelonephritis is a type of kidney infection in one or both of the kidneys caused due to bacteria or viruses. This infection originates as a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) with its roots either in the urethra or the urinary bladder and later makes its way to the kidneys. This is a condition demanding proper medical attention as soon as possible as the infection can cause permanent kidney damage or in the worst case make its way to the bloodstream leading to life-threatening conditions.
What causes Pyelonephritis?
The most prominent cause of pyelonephritis is the accumulation of bacteria in the urethra which keeps on multiplying and later makes its way to the kidneys. Bacteria from an illness anywhere else in the body can potentially move to the kidneys via the bloodstream. Although developing a kidney infection through this form is uncommon, it mainly occurs if someone has a prosthetic joint or heart valve which is infected.
What are the symptoms of Pyelonephritis?
A kidney infection can cause the following symptoms:
– Presence of blood in the urine
– Chills and fever
– Appetite loss
– Pain in the lower abdomen
– Weakness or exhaustion
One may also experience any of the following symptoms produced by a bladder infection:
– Burning sensation while urinating
– A persistent need to urinate, even after the bladder has been emptied
– Urine has an odor and cloudy appearance
– Peeing significantly more frequently than normal
What are the risk factors for Pyelonephritis?
A kidney illness may affect anyone. However, just as women are more likely than males to suffer bladder infections, they are also more likely to get kidney infections.
A woman’s urethra is shorter and closer to her vagina and anus than a man’s. This makes it simpler for germs or viruses to enter a woman’s urethra, and once there, they have a shorter journey to the bladder. They can then move to the kidneys.
Pregnant women are at a higher risk of developing bladder infections. This is due to hormonal changes, as well as the fact that a baby exerts pressure on the mother’s bladder and ureters, slowing the flow of urine.
Complications in the urinary system that prevent urine from flowing normally might increase the risks of pyelonephritis including the following.
– A urinary system obstruction such as kidney stones or an enlarged prostate
– Conditions that prevent proper emptying of the bladder
– A structural issue with the urinary tract, such as a constricted urethra
– Vesicoureteral reflux (VUR), occurs when urine runs backward from the bladder toward the kidneys.
One is also at a higher risk of getting a kidney infection if they have the following complications:
– Damage to the bladder’s nerves
– Prostatitis, is an infection of the prostate
– A urinary catheter is a tube that enters the bladder via the urethra to drain urine.
– A weak immune system due to type 2 diabetes
Method of diagnosis
After a thorough analysis of the situation, the doctor may ask one to undergo the following tests:
– Urine Test: To detect blood, pus, and germs in the urine
– Urine culture: This helps in detecting the type of bacteria responsible for the infection
Apart from the two tests, the doctor may also order the following tests:
– CT or ultrasound: These are used to detect a blockage in the urinary system.
– Voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG). This is an X-ray used to search for abnormalities with the urethra and bladder. These are often used by doctors in children with VUR.
– Rectal digital examination (for men). To check for a swollen prostate, this procedure involves the medical professional inserting a lubricated finger in the anus to examine the prostate.
– Dimercaptosuccinic Acid(DMSA) Scintigraphy: This technique employs a radioactive substance to detect kidney infection and the extent of damage caused.
Methods of treatment for Pyelonephritis
The first mode of treatment for kidney infection includes antibiotics. The kind of drugs involved and the duration of the treatment are determined by the overall health and the type of bacteria found in the urine. The symptoms of Pyelonephritis usually disappear after only a few days of therapy. However, one may need to continue taking medicines for a week or more. Even if they feel better, it is vital to finish the complete course of antibiotics prescribed by the doctor.
A follow-up urine culture test may be recommended by the doctor to check if the infection has resolved. If the illness persists, one needs to take another round of antibiotics.
If the kidney infection is serious, the doctor may recommend one to be admitted to the hospital. Antibiotics and fluids may be administered intravenously as part of the treatment. The duration of the hospital stay is determined by how severe the condition is.
Repeated kidney infections might be caused by an underlying medical condition, such as a malformed urinary system. In that situation, one may be sent to a nephrologist or urologist for assessment. A structural problem may need surgery to correct.
What can be done to prevent Pyelonephritis?
– Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water. As fluids can help eliminate microorganisms from the body.
– Don’t put off the desire to urinate.
– After intercourse, empty the bladder as soon as possible as it aids in the removal of germs from the urethra, lowering the chances of infection.
– Wipe with caution. After a bowel moment or after urinating, cleaning from front to back prevents the bacteria from spreading to the urethra
– Using deodorant sprays or douches in the genital area might be unpleasant.