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Info & Treatments for Kidney Stones & Kidney Disease

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Most urinary tract infections occur in either the bladder or the urethra, the tube through which your urine travels down from your bladder to your genitals and out of your body when you urinate. Urinary tract infections are normally easy to treat with a course of antibiotics, but sometimes the antibiotics aren't strong enough and don't work or the infection isn't detected early enough and it spreads up into the kidneys. Occasionally a kidney infection can come from somewhere else in the body, but it is extremely rare for this to happen. Regardless or its source, when a kidney infection is diagnosed by your physician, it calls for immediate attention and treatment, as an infection of the kidneys can lead to permanent damage of these important organs, and can even lead to blood poisoning because the kidneys are responsible for filtering impurities out of your blood stream.


Symptoms


When you have a urinary tract infection, you can generally tell because it hurts to urinate, and your urine may actually be slightly pink in color, or very cloudy. This is from blood and bacteria. If left untreated, a urinary tract infection that becomes a kidney infection has much more pronounced symptoms. The first symptom you will have is probably fever, but the most common symptom that you will experience is severe pain, usually in your back or your side, but sometimes it goes lower down in your upper thigh or in your groin. This pain is the primary tip off for your physician as to what is wrong with you. Kidney infections usually cause a high fever, and as is true with urinary tract infections, you will feel like you have to urinate, but when you do only a little will come out, and it will burn. Usually if you have a kidney infection your urine will be either cloudy from pus or pink from blood.


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Causes


Like any other infection, kidney infections are caused by the presence of bacteria. In the case of the kidneys, the infection usually reaches the organ by travelling up from the urethra, a short tube that connects the genitals to the bladder. The kidney is connected to the bladder, and when an infection lower down in the body is left untreated it can travel up this path. Kidney infections can also spread from elsewhere in the body, but that is unusual. It can also be a result of a surgical infection.


Risk Factors


Women are more at risk for getting kidney infections than men, largely because the anatomy of their urethra is different. The shorter distance from the exterior world to the bladder makes infection more likely. You are also more likely to get a kidney infection if you have a blockage of any kind, including a kidney stone, or if your immune system is compromised. There are other risk factors like the use of a catheter for a long time, or an anomaly in your anatomy that makes your urine flow backwards.


Diagnosis


The symptoms of kidney infection are pretty specific to the disease, so your doctor will usually be able to tell that you have one simply by taking your temperature and checking to see where your pain is, but they will also ask for a urine sample. The lab results will confirm your diagnosis by detecting the presence of blood or bacteria in your urine.


Treatment


Your treatment for a kidney infection will depend upon exactly how far along your infection is and how serious your condition is. In most cases, you will simply be put onto a strong antibiotic and kept on it for several days until you get better, but if your infection is particularly bad and your physician believes that you are in danger, you will be hospitalized and put on intravenous antibiotics, which will take effect much more quickly. You can also take over the counter medications for pain, and a heating pad placed on your abdomen can help too. Drinking plenty of water will make you urinate more frequently, which will help flush the bacteria out of your system.


Prevention


Some people are prone to getting kidney infections, and if you have had more than a couple than there are some precautions that you can take to try to avoid having them in the future. The most important thing you can do to prevent infection is to drink plenty of water on a regular basis. Water helps flush out your system and will clean any lurking bacteria out. Beyond that, practicing good hygiene is helpful, particularly for women. It is advised that you make sure that when you wipe yourself after going to the bathroom you are careful not to introduce bacteria into your urethra by wiping from the front to the back. Women should also urinate after having sex, because your urine will carry any bacteria out of the vagina and prevent it from entering the body.


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