Difference Between Kidney Infection and Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) and kidney infections sometimes have similar symptoms that can confuse sufferers. This is the difference between a UTI and a kidney infection.

The human urological system is susceptible to two types of infections, namely urinary tract infections (UTIs) and kidney infections. These two infections sometimes have similar symptoms, which can confuse the sufferer.

Knowing the difference between a UTI and a kidney infection can really help determine the right treatment. Let’s find out more about the differences between kidney infections and urinary tract infections below.

Recognizing Kidney Infections and Urinary Tract Infections

The human urinary tract consists of several parts, including the kidneys, bladder, and urethra. Sometimes bacteria can infect the urinary tract. When bacteria infect the urinary tract, the condition is known as a urinary tract infection.

The most common type of UTI is cystitis, which is an infection of the bladder. Urethritis or infection of the urethra is also common. Like bladder or urethral infections, kidney infections are also a type of UTI.

A urinary tract infection in some conditions can develop into a kidney infection. This can lead to serious complications. For this reason, a medical examination is needed for the diagnosis of UTI and the potential development of the disease.

Difference between UTI and Kidney Infection

Although it is a UTI, a kidney infection is a different condition. There are several differences between a kidney infection and a urinary tract infection, including:

1.  Symptoms Difference

Doctor Reza Fahlevi explained that there are two urinary tract infections, namely upper and lower infections

(up to the kidneys) and lower infection (urethral bladder).

Kidney infections have symptoms similar to UTIs. However, the most common symptoms of a urinary tract infection include:

  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating.
  • Feeling the urge to urinate all the time.
  • Urinate only in small amounts.
  • Urine has a foul odor.
  • Urine is cloudy or bloody.
  • There is discomfort in the stomach.

There are specific symptoms that can indicate a urinary tract infection has spread to the kidneys and become a kidney infection. A person who has a kidney infection will experience:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Pain around the lower back or sides
  • Nausea or vomiting

2.  Differences in Cause

The urinary tract is usually equipped with a good system to prevent infection. Passing urine regularly can also help remove pathogens from the urinary tract.

When bacteria enter the urinary tract and begin to multiply, a UTI can occur. This can cause symptoms. The bacteria often originate in the digestive tract and spread from the anus to the urinary tract.

Women are relatively more prone to UTIs than men. This is because the female urethra is shorter and closer to the anus. This makes it easier for bacteria to cause infection.

E. coli bacteria are a common cause of urinary tract infections. Then, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia and gonorrhea can also cause urethritis.

Untreated UTIs can spread to the kidneys and become a kidney infection. Infected kidneys can lead to serious complications, such as kidney damage or sepsis. Sepsis is a condition when bacteria have entered the blood.

Kidney infections can also occur when kidney stones block the urinary tract, which traps bacteria and causes infection. Kidney stones need to be treated immediately by performing procedures to remove or break up kidney stones.

In addition, kidney infections can occur after kidney surgery or as a result of an infection spreading from a part of the body other than the urinary tract.

3.  Treatment Difference

How to treat urinary tract infections and kidney infections are similar. UTIs can usually be treated with antibiotics prescribed by a doctor within 3-5 days.

Meanwhile, treatment of kidney infections generally lasts 7-14 days, depending on the class of antibiotics prescribed by the doctor.

It is important to finish the entire course of antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor, even after the symptoms have disappeared. Taking antibiotics is aimed at making sure the infection has been completely treated.

Serious kidney infections may require hospitalization, including the use of antibiotics and IVs. If the shape of the urinary tract causes a chronic kidney infection, your doctor may recommend surgery to repair the urinary tract.

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