The bean shaped organ, located below our ribcage is known as kidney. Every human has two kidneys, one in each side. The right kidney is located behind the liver whereas the left one is behind the spleen. Their main function is to clean the blood of the waste products and send it back to the heart for distribution to all the organs of the body. In addition to this, it helps in removing the waste products out of the body by converting it into urine and sending it to the bladder from where it gets discharged.
While performing its functions it secretes rennin, erythropoietin and calcitriol, which are very important hormones. Thus an infection in the kidney could be life threatening. Bacteria present in the urinary tract or the bladder and travel upwards to the kidney, causes infection known as Pyelonephritis. It may be caused due to the presence of a bacterium called E. coli in the urinary tract. In medical terms, when an infection that begins in the urethra or bladder and travels to the kidney causing a specific type of Urinary tract Infection(UTI), is called pyeonephritis. It may also cause inflammation of the kidney tissues and the renal pelvis.
The symptoms can be seen within a few hours after the kidney is infected. The most common symptoms being high temperature (fever), abdominal, back and side pains, nausea, vomiting, pain in the groin region and frequent urination. The patient may also experience pain while urination, which may be associated with the discharge of pus or blood. In most cases only one kidney is infected, but if not treated properly and on time it could lead to kidney failure and eventually death. Patients suffering from UTI and undergoing treatment, but not experiencing any form of relief could also be suffering from pyeonephritis. In severe or chronic cases hospitalization may be required as this could lead to permanent kidney failure or blood poisoning.
Like said before, the main reason for this infection is because of the bacteria that travels upwards from the bowel to the urethra, then to the bladder infecting it and finally to the kidney. It is more common among women and neonatal boys. Women have a short urethra which is also located closer to the anus, making it more prone to the infection. Sexually active women or those with multiple partners are also prone to this infection. Others who are at a risk of contracting this infection are diabetic patients, those with a weak immune system, having condition like kidney stones or those who cannot empty their bladder completely and using urinary catheter. In rare cases this infection may spread through the blood. Like a bacteria from a skin infection could enter the blood stream and reach the kidney infecting it. However in males prostatitis and anal sex are found to be the biggest cause.
Diagnosis & Treatment
A urine culture test and the usual symptoms are enough for a doctor to detect an infection in the kidneys. In rare cases tomography scan and an ultrasound may also be needed. The first and foremost treatment for kidney infection is a course of antibiotics. Painkillers like paracetamol may also be included depending on the symptoms and test results. In acute cases the functions of the kidney may not be affected but scar tissues starts to form on the kidneys.
Under this condition the lining of the bladder and the renal pelvis are inflamed. Also some of the nephron tubules are destroyed. Suppressing the growth of the bacteria takes priority as the symptoms include white blood cells in the urine and very high bacterial count. Recurring infection could be chronic as this destroys the kidney tissues over time which leads to uremia and heart and blood vessel disorder. Dialysis or kidney transplant may be an answer to these problems but only if the kidneys have not lost all its functions.
Home remedies like drinking enough water as this could flush out the bacteria from the kidney and taking rest is important to all the patients. Other ways to prevent it are not holding back the urge to urinate; emptying the bladder after an intercourse, keeping the genital and the anus area clean. Taking necessary precaution is the best way to keep infections away.