Kidney infections usually start as lower urinary tract infections, or UTIs. Most UTIs are bladder infections, and 75 percent of women will suffer one at least once in their lifetime. Women are 25 times more likely to develop a UTI than men, mainly due to their anatomy.
The kidneys filter blood and send urine down to the bladder via two ureters that run parallel to one another. Urine pools in the bladder and travels down the urethra to leave the body. A urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria enter the urethra and travel backward up the urethra and into the bladder.
Ninety percent of kidney infections in women are caused by E. coli bacteria, which naturally occur in the colon and anus. Intercourse, poor hygiene and improper wiping after urinating or defecating can all cause the E. coli bacteria to migrate to the opening of the urethra, and then it travels up to the bladder, causing infection.
If left untreated, the bladder infection can then travel up the ureters into the kidneys and cause serious damage, such as sepsis, or the poisoning of the blood.
Symptoms of UTIs and Kidney Infections
• Frequent urination
• Sense of urgency to urinate
• Burning during urination
• Painful kidneys
Preventing UTIs and Kidney Infections
Dr. Travis explains easy ways to prevent and treat urinary tract and kidney infections.
• Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and wash bacteria out of the ureters
• Avoid caffeine and alcohol
• For women, urinate after sex
• Wipe front to back after urinating or defecating
• Take acidophilus supplements and drink cranberry juice to help prevent the adherence of bacteria to the bladder wall
Essential Tests for Women
OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson outlines what to expect from a gynecologic exam and essential questions women should ask their doctor.
1. Blood tests to check system functions, such as thyroid and cholesterol levels
2. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
“You need to get tested for STDs anytime you’re sexually active, even if you’re having protected intercourse,” Dr. Lisa says.
3. Vaccines and flu shots
4. Mammograms for women over 40
5. Bone density (check with your doctor for what age is appropriate for your medical history)
6. Colonoscopy for women over 50
Four Appointments You Need to Make NOW!
1. Head-to-toe dermatology exam
2. Prostate exam for men age 50 and older
3. Colonoscopy for those 50 years of age and over
4. Mammogram for women over the age of 40
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