Feeling a little under the weather? Do you have a fever or the chills, or feel burning or painful sensation when urinating? It's possible that you have a kidney infection. Although kidney infections aren’t common, it's important to be able to recognize the symptoms of it and get it treated if needed.
Let’s discuss how you can check for whether you have a kidney infection, and what to do if you think you might have one.
What is a kidney infection?
Kidney infections are also known as Pyelonephritis, and is a kind of urinary tract infection that involves the lower urinary tract, including the prostate and the bladder, or the upper urinary tract, including the kidney.
Kidney infections are caused by bacteria like E. Coli. These bacteria might be found on the genitals and work their way up to the kidneys. A kidney infection is often the result of a weakened immune system or diabetes.
What are the signs and symptoms of a kidney infection?
Some of the symptoms of a kidney infection include:
- Pain in the back, groin, or side.
- Cloudy and foul-smelling urine
- Painful urination from burning sensation present while urinating
- Muscle spasms in the abdomen
- Frequent urination
- Feeling ill and weak generally
- Urine color that is abnormal or has blood/pus in it.
If you notice any of these symptoms, then the chances are that you may have developed a kidney infection and require medical attention. We advise that you contact a medical expert if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms.
What are the causes of a kidney infection?
When you urinate, your body helps flush out bacteria from the body. But sometimes, rather than getting flushed out, the bacteria enter the urinary tract instead and find their way into the kidneys.
Why does this happen, and what could be the cause?
- Diabetes mellitus that is left unattended can change immune responses, and in turn cause kidney problems.
- Abnormalities in the body or organ structure may block your urine flow. These abnormalities can include kidney stones, surgery, stents, or stricture.
- Weakened immune system.
How do you test for a kidney infection?
To test for kidney infection, a kidney check test is carried out using samples of your urine. Two common types of urine tests that can be used for the kidney check test are:
Urine analysis is used to measure the pus, bacteria, or blood that is present in your urine. To take this test, you will need to provide a sample of your urine at a lab or your doctor’s office. The sample collected will be viewed using a microscope to test for the presence of any bacteria.
This is a more elaborate kidney check test carried out to determine the kind of bacteria that is causing your kidney infection. Urine culture tests help determine the course of treatment for your kidney infection.
A urine culture test also involves providing a urine sample to a lab or to your doctor. This sample will sit for about a day or two, max three days - the aim is to give the bacteria time to grow so it can be easily cultured and recognized.
There are a couple of other ways to get a kidney check test. This includes:
An ultrasound scan uses sound waves to form imaging of tissues in order to determine any blockages in the urinary tract.
A kblood test can also function as a kidney check test and be useful especially if you are very ill. This test checks for serum creatinine, your glomerular filtration rate (GFR), and the blood urea nitrogen (BUN) ratio in your blood.
Can I do a kidney check test at home?
There are at-home tests in the market which can help you assess your kidney health. These tests check for protein in the urine, which can help give an idea about whether there is a kidney infection or any other general kidney function deterioration.
These at-home tests are generally dipstick tests where you dip the test strip into a sample of your urine and observe the color change by comparing your results with an accompanying color chart for the product to interpret your results. The strip will change in color depending on whether it detects protein in your urine.
Nevertheless, it is generally advised that you seek medical attention even after taking an at-home kidney test so that you get the correct guidance from medical experts.
Avoiding kidney infections
Many things can lead to a kidney infection, such as not drinking enough fluids, consuming too much alcohol, or having a weakened immune system. However, there are some simple steps you can take to help prevent contracting this serious condition. These are:
- Hydrating by drinking lots of fluids
- Avoiding douches or using sprays on your genitals
- Using a diaphragm or condoms coated in spermicide
- Not holding in urine when you need to pee
- Peeing after sexual intercourse
- Wiping from front to back after using the bathroom
- Practicing good hygiene
- Consuming healthy food low in sodium and fat.
- Incorporating more fruits and fresh foods into your diet.