A kidney infection occurs when certain viruses or bacteria enter the urinary tract and travel up to one or both of the kidneys. Such infection, categorised as Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), is known as pyelonephritis. Women, especially pregnant ones, toddlers under 2 years of age and people over 60 years of age are most prone to such infections. According to a recent report, such infections affect about 4 men in every 10,000 and 16 women in every 10,000 in the US every year.
While kidney infections are not difficult to treat, they require urgent and immediate attention or they can severely and permanently damage the kidneys, and, if untreated for long, can even affect the urinary tract. They can cause a lot of serious discomfort and often lead to diarrhoea, nausea and, most commonly, back pain and may even lead to a bladder infection. All these can be treated quickly and efficiently if the infection is diagnosed on time. Some common symptoms associated with renal infections are:
- Dehydration – vomiting and/or diarrhoea
- Fever and chills
- Excessive fatigue
- Unexplained pain in the back, sides or the groin area
- Blood or pus in the urine
- Loss of appetite
- Frequent and improper urination
- Burning sensation while urinating
- Improper toilet hygiene – Wiping improperly or using unclean toilet paper.
- The female urethra – Is shorter as compared to men’s. This is the primary reason why women are more prone as infection easily reaches the urinary tract and more quickly.
- Kidney stones – cause a buildup of waste minerals in the inner lining of the kidneys thereby causing an infection easily.
- Prolonged catheter use – Catheter tubes, when used for a prolonged time, increase the risk of kidney infection.
- Prostate enlargement – in men substantially increases the chances of such infections.
- Sexual activity – Intercourse may irritate the urethra in women and lead to infection inside the tract, which could then reach the kidneys.
- Weak immunity – Patients with weakened immunity owing to pre-existing medical conditions, such as diabetes, are highly prone to kidney infections.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Anybody who experiences two or more of the symptoms above must contact their doctor and get a urinalysis done. Urinalysis, as the name suggests, is the study/examination of the concentration, appearance, and the content of urine. This study is used to diagnose and treat a variety of diseases such as kidney disease, diabetes and urinary tract infections.
Once diagnosed, a kidney infection can be effectively treated with a targeted dose of antibiotics. In the case of kidney stones, minimally invasive surgeries may also be performed to extract the stone thereby, reducing chances of further infection.
Kidney infections are fairly common and so are the treatments. The urinalysis market is expected to globally reach USD6.32 Billion by 2027as against USD 3.37 Billion in 2019. With awareness and health consciousness increasing every day, such infections can now be detected early and cured effectively.