The need to stay clean and hygienic has always been stressed enough to maintain better health. Keeping our body as well as the surrounding clean is crucial to avoid many small or serious infections, this holds especially true for the intimate areas of a person.
As infection in one’s urinary tract can result in serious infection and that could be life-threatening.
In our body, the urinary system is responsible for making urine. The urinary tract comprises of two kidneys, ureters, the bladder with urethra.
Urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria enters into urinary system and multiply. If the infection is not tackled at right time – then it allows the bacteria to travel up to kidney and result in a serious type of infection called pyelonephritis.
The below mentioned are the ususal symptoms of UTI :
- Urgency to urinate
- Urinary frequency
- A sense of burning during urination
- Aching feeling, pressure or lower abdominal pain
- Blood-tinged or cloudy urine
- Strong odour in the urine
UTIs necessarily do not lead to kidney damage. However if the problem is left untreated, then the infection might spread.
As mentioned above, pyelonephritis or a type of severe kidney infection which initiates in the bladder or urethra and ascends to one or both of the kidneys. They can be affected by a virus or bacteria.
A kidney infection does require medical or surgical attention and if unattended, then can damage the kidneys permanently. The bacteria can sometimes spread to the bloodstream and cause a life-threatening sepsis.
Symptoms of a kidney infection are:
- Fever and chills
- Back, side (flank) or groin pain
- Pain in the abdomen
- Vomiting and nausea
- Pus or blood in your urine (hematuria)
- Urine that smells bad or is cloudy
If the symptoms persist, it is crucial to receive medical attention, or else the condition can worsen and become life-threatening.
- Females are more likely to catch this infection as their urethra is shorter than it is in men. This makes it easier for the bacteria to travel to the bladder. Pregnant women are at an even higher risk.
- A blockage in the urinary tract which can slow the flow of urine or reduces the bladder’s ability to empty can lead to the infection. The blockage can be due to a kidney stone, some abnormality in the structure of the urinary tract or an enlarged prostate gland (in men).
- A weakened immune system also increases the chance due to health history or medications.
- Any damage to the nerves around the bladder.
- Using a urinary catheter, a tube used to drain urine from the bladder usually when a person is confined to bed due to sickness or surgeries.
- If a person suffers from the condition which causes the urine to flow in the wrong direction back into ureters and kidneys.
Complications involved in a kidney infection:
- Kidney scarring which can further result in chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure, and kidney failure.
- Septicemia or blood poisoning due to bacteria spread into the bloodstream from kidney infection.
- Pregnancy complications can occur if the kidney is infected, especially the risk of delivering low birth weight babies.
A kidney infection that results from UTI is indeed a serious concern and needs proper medical attention at the earliest. However, since prevention is always better than cure, here are some life syle changes:
- Consume enough and regular fluids, as it helps in removing bacteria from the body while urinating.
- Try not to delay urination when you have the urge to.
- Clean the vaginal introitus before and after sexual intercourse.
- Empty the bladder right after the intercourse as that also helps in clearing bacteria from the urethra.
- Be careful while wiping. Wiping from front to back after urinating and post bowel movement also prevents the spread of bacteria to urethra.
- Do not use products such as deodorant sprays in your genital area.
Contributed by Dr Ravish Lead consultant - urologist at Aster RV Hospital