Kidney and urinary tract infections

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:47 pm
The body is equipped with a filtering system for disposing of liquid wastes. It's called the urinary tract. In women especially, this system is subject to invading bacteria, which can get inside the urinary tract and multiply, resulting in infection and discomfort. About one in every five women will have a urinary tract infection during her life, and some women will have more than one. Symptoms of urinary tract infections can come on suddenly. The first sign of a bladder infection is often a strong urge to urinate that cannot be delayed. As urine is released, a woman may feel a sharp pain or burning sensation in the urethra (your-EE-thrah). Very little urine is eliminated, and the urine may be tinged with blood. Soreness may occur in the lower abdomen, in the back, or in the sides. If the bacteria enters the ureters (YOUR-ih-ters) and spreads to the kidneys, symptoms may include back pain, chills, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms associated with a urinary tract infection, such as painful urination, can be caused by other problems such as an infection of the vagina or vulva. A diagnosis can be made by testing a urine sample. Treatment usually involves antibiotics and plenty of fluids. Any symptoms of infection should be examined immediately. Urinary tract infections tend to recur in some people and, if left untreated, can cause permanent kidney damage. For additional information, contact a health care provider.

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