The E.Coli bacterium is responsible for causing pyelonephritis or renal infection, usually known as the kidney infection. Kidney infection is one type of UTI (Urinary Tract Infection). The bacterium moves to a kidney from the urethra (the tube that takes urine out of the body) or the bladder.
Kidney damage and sepsis (poisoning of the blood) are the complications which can be caused by the infection in case it is not treated immediately. Usually, patients diagnosed with kidney infection are taken to the hospital and given antibiotics for the treatment of the infection.
Causes of Kidney Infection
The E.Coli bacteria can cause kidney infection. They reside in the bowel. The bacteria get access to the urinary tract by travelling from the anus to the urethra and then go from the urethra to the bladder. The bacteria eventually cause cystitis (lower UTI). After reaching the bladder, the bacteria move upward towards either one or both of the ureters (tubes that link the kidneys to the bladder) and start a kidney infection.
It is not necessary that the E.Coli bacteria reach the kidney through urethra as they can travel in the bloodstream from other parts of the body too. The E.Coli bacteria can also be transferred during sex which results in the bacteria moving into the urethra.
Since the urethra is larger in men than women, the bacteria don’t cause kidney infection in men as much as it causes in women. This is because the bacteria need to travel a smaller distance to move into the bladder in the case of women because of their smaller urethra.
There is a high chance of a kidney infection if you have/are:
- a dysfunctional kidney
- a ureter or kidney blockage like an engorged prostate gland
- high sugar level
- a disease that weakens the immune system (HIV/AIDS)
- already suffered from a UTI a year ago
- involuntary urination
Symptoms of Kidney Infection
Uncomplicated and complicated kidney infections are the two common kidney infection types. In the kidney infection which is uncomplicated, the chances of any life-threatening complications are low because the patient suffers from no other diseases. In complicated infection, the chances of complications are higher as the patient already suffers from serious illness.
The frequently occurring kidney infection symptoms are:
- high fever
- throwing up
- pain in the abdomen and lower body
- dysuria (pain while urinating)
- increase in frequency of urination
- strong urgency to urinate
- pain in the lower back
- widespread malaise
On examination, the kidney infection may show itself in the form of the following symptoms:
- clinical proof that there is an infection upon inspection of urine
- high temperature
- tenderness on the costo-vertebral angle which would show itself when the flanks are tapped a bit
Tiredness, increased heart rate, blood pressure issues, dehydration and paranoia are the symptoms of kidney infection in patients whose immune system isn’t that strong.
When to Seek Medical Service
You should contact your doctor for a checkup if you see symptoms related to kidney infection. It’s best to talk to your doctor too in case your condition isn’t improving even after treatment for an infection of the urinary tract.
Blood in the urine and continuous nausea and vomiting often accompany usual kidney infection signs and you should seek immediate medical help if you experience any such symptom. It’s important to seek medical service as soon as possible in such cases as serious infections can sometimes prove fatal.
Treatments for Kidney Infection
Antibiotics are the most common medications for kidney infections. Your health condition and the type of bacteria responsible for causing your kidney infection is going to decide the antibiotic that you are prescribed and the time duration you are going to keep taking it.
Although the antibiotics are going to start producing the results within days of starting the treatment, doctors suggest that you complete the full course of the prescribed antibiotics to ensure that the infection is rooted out of your system.
Severe Kidney Infections Need Hospitalization
If your kidney infection is of a severe nature and cannot be controlled using oral antibiotics then it would become necessary for you to be hospitalized. You will be given intravenous antibiotics to fight off the kidney infection. You might have to stay in the hospital for a long period of time if your condition does not improve quickly.
Treatment for Recurrent Kidney Infections
Kidney infections that occur on a frequent basis or become chronic have to be treated with extra care. You might have to consult a kidney specialist in such cases as he would be more capable of diagnosing the underlying disease that is causing the infection to recur and can suggest a suitable treatment for it.
A urinary structural abnormality might be the reason for recurrent kidney infections. In such cases, you might have to see a nephrologist or an urologist who is going to check whether the structural abnormality is the reason for your kidney infection or not. Surgery may be used for repairing urologic structural abnormalities
Home Remedies for Kidney Infection
1. Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is a good home remedy for treating kidney infections because of its ability to flush out toxins from the gallbladder, kidneys and liver. Taking lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil can help in preventing kidney stones too.
2. Use Heating Pad
Kidney infections are usually accompanied with groin, back and hip pain. Using a heating pad can significantly reduce this pain by relaxing the muscles present in these parts of the body.
3. Drink Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe vera is known for its antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties which make it an ideal home remedy for treating kidney infections. Drinking aloe vera juice twice a day can cleanse your kidneys and save you from developing urinary tract infections.
4. Drink Cranberry Juice
Cranberry juice in unsweetened form has been found to be very beneficial for treating kidney infections. Cranberry juice increases the acidity in the urine which stops the growth of bacteria and also prevents them from reaching the bladder wall.
5. Have Enough Water
Taking a good deal of water is important for treating kidney infections. Increasing your intake of water is going to help you in removing your kidneys of the bacteria and toxins that cause infections.
6. Take Vitamin C
Vitamin C is also known for its ability to increase the acidity of the urine which in turn prevents the growth of bacteria. Thus, consuming grape fruits and oranges, which are rich in vitamin C can help in treating kidney infections as well.
7. Pay Attention to Your Diet
Avoid the use of glucose or sugary products as they can give rise to bacterial development. Instead of eating cakes, chocolates and drinking alcohol it is best include yogurt, kefir and tofu in your diet.
Learn how to treat a kidney infection with the help of a practicing nephrologist in this video: