Many women talk about the two infections as if they are one and the same health problem. Even though a bladder infection can elevate into a kidney infection as well, they are two different health problems with different symptoms.
A bladder infection or cystitis is an acute infection of the bladder including the urethra that is the narrow tube which transports the urine. Most bladder infections do not involve the kidneys. Most bladder infections result from a bacterial infection.
A kidney infection means an infection or inflammation in the kidneys. This can be acute or chronic. It is often caused by an untreated bladder infection or condition that compromises the kidney function. If the kidneys are compromised, they are more prone to infection and disease. If you have cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney stones, obstructions, are alcoholic, take street drugs, or certain prescription drugs; you may have more kidney pain and infections. This can lead to loss of kidney function and death. There can be metabolic disturbances such as an inability of the kidneys to process potassium. You may have had an accident as I did that damaged the kidneys and the kidney function.
Many medications over time cause kidney damage. You need to review your prescriptions online so you are aware of that problem. Many of the most popular drugs including over-the-counter pain medications, Celebrex, Prilosec, Prevacid, Protonix, Nexium, high blood pressure drugs, heart drugs, anti-cancer drugs, anti-viral drugs and hundreds of other drugs can cause long term kidney problems. Some drugs result in kidney failure. It does not help to lower your blood pressure but destroy your kidneys in the process. Prevention is the key so that you do not need to take drugs that impair your kidney function. Many health conditions can be prevented by life style changes including diet, exercise, and stress reduction.
Difference in Symptoms:
In a bladder infection you get burning urine, urge to urinate, pain in the urethra when you urinate, and pain in the lower pelvic area. You may get a mild fever but not usually. You do not get a high fever, chills, or nausea with a bladder infection.
In a kidney infection you will get lower back pain that gets increasingly worse if left untreated, chills, very high fever, nausea, difficulty or inability to urinate, and extreme fatigue as well. You may find blood in your urine as the infection gets more severe. Kidney infections take longer to recoup from. It may be a month before you feel normal again.
If you have an infection in both the bladder and kidney, you will have all the above symptoms. At this point, you may see blood in your urine as well. This means your infection is extremely serious and needs to be treated immediately.
Treatment is Critical
Both bladder and kidney infections need to be treated. Without treatment, they each can lead to more complicated health problems. Often women and especially elderly women can run a low-grade kidney or bladder infection. The symptoms may be mild or so chronic, it is taken for granted. The person may not see the need to seek treatment. It is necessary to seek treatment for long term health. If you do not treat a kidney infection, it can lead to permanent damage to the kidney. Chronic bladder infections can lead to scaring and compromised function.
Your kidneys are extremely important to the health of the whole body. Most people do not fully understand how important the kidneys are to our health and life. They remove waste products, drugs, and toxins from the body. They balance body fluids such as sodium and potassium. They produce hormones that affect blood pressure and calcium. Vitamin D is produced by the kidneys and in part the production of red blood cells. You need to take care of them so that they stay strong and healthy. You can live with one kidney but if both kidneys cease to function, so will you.