Kidney Infection During Pregnancy: Ultimate Guide

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Kidney infections give rise to UTI in 80 percent of the cases. Urinary tract infections (UTI) are quite common to be diagnosed in pregnant women. But, it sure is a very challenging problem since pregnancy also includes dealing with other psychological problems. It also increases the risk of complications and further infections. Kidney and Urinary tract infections are risky for both the child and also the mother. [1]

A kidney infection called Acute pyelonephritis is caused by a type of bacteria which affects nearly 2 percent of all pregnant women. This kidney infection mostly arises from the lower urinary tract. Hence, if this is left untreated or not taken care of in a proper way, it might spread up to the genital area and the bladder. In this case, it will infect one or both of the kidneys thereby increasing the complications.

All You Need to Know about Kidney Infection During Pregnancy

kidney infection

Symptoms of kidney infection during Pregnancy

  • High fever
  • Chills
  • Cramps or Lower backache
  • Smelly urine
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Urinary urgency
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain in the pelvic region
  • Headache
  • Kidney tenderness
  • Painful or discomfort urination (Dysuria)
  • Blood in the urine (Hematuria) or cloudy urine
  • Nausea
  • Leaking urine
  • Unstable body temperature

Why is there a higher risk of kidney infection in Pregnant Women?

In non-pregnant women or on a general basis, the process of urine elimination is as follows: [3]

  • Kidneys – Produce urine in the body by filtering the waste products from the blood.
  • Ureters (two thin tubes) – Transport urine from the kidneys to the bladder.
  • Bladder (a sac) – Holds and stores urine
  • Urethra (a tube) – Transports the urine out of the body.

In pregnant women, the same process takes place but with some physiological changes. The physiological changes that occur due to pregnancy involve:

  • Increased concentration of the progesterone hormone – Inhibits the contraction of the drainage ducts.
  • Enlarged uterus – Leads to Ureters compression.

These physiological changes lead to improper drainage of urine causing urine retention. Hence, bacteria from the bladder present in the urine can travel to the kidneys and cause a kidney infection.

UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) which is very common in pregnant women can also cause Pyelonephritis due to the uterus pressing down on the bladder.

Complications of kidney infection during Pregnancy

Kidney infections might cause: [4]

  • 40% risk of progressing to pyelonephritis
  • Increased risk of premature birth
  • Preeclampsia
  • Low neonatal birth weight
  • Changes in the urinary tract functions
  • Urine retention (increases the risk of kidney stones)
  • Biochemical changes in urine (increased pH)

Pyelonephritis should be treated immediately and effectively for a faster result. If left untreated, the infection can migrate into the bloodstream and other body parts causing sepsis and respiratory problems respectively. Kidney infections can lead to serious complications during pregnancy like preterm labor or even death. Hence, proper treatment and good hygiene from day-to-day are very crucial to prevent future infections.

Furthermore, the infection can cause the following issues: [5]

Diagnosis and Treatment of kidney infection during Pregnancy

  • Urine Test – Kidney infections and Urinary tract infections are diagnosed with the help of a urine test. If the infection is present, the white blood cells and bacteria can be viewed under the microscope by a professional and required medical attention is prescribed accordingly.
  • Blood Test – This test might be asked by the doctor to determine the diversity of the infection in order to decide the treatment according to the extent of the infection.
  • Imaging Test – This test will determine any obstructions in the urinary tract. It can also determine if there is any cyst formation.
  • Ultrasound
  • CT scan
  • X-ray (VCUG)

Infection is treated with a daily dose or regular dose of antibiotics as prescribed by the doctor along with some remedies for faster recovery and cure. In case of complex infection, severe symptoms or abscesses formation, nephrostomy will be performed in order to drain the abscess.

Home Remedies for kidney infection during Pregnancy

  • Yogurt is a great source for antioxidants and good bacteria.
  • ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ is indeed true in this case as apples maintain the acidity in the urine.
  • Foods that are rich in Vitamin C will aid in preventing infections – Strawberries, Potatoes, Citrus fruits.
  • Cranberry juice and blueberry juice kills bacteria by making the urine more acidic.
  • Marshmallow roots, garlic and parsley juice are diuretic and are great cleansing agents for kidneys.
  • Apple cider vinegar helps to neutralize and maintain pH levels.
  • If infected, avoid foods which are rich in phosphorus content until cured. For example –
    • Chocolates
    • Nuts
    • Dairy products
    • Wheat

Precautions for kidney infection during Pregnancy

  • All pregnant women must go through the medical check-up at frequent and regular intervals to make sure of healthy living for both the mother and her child.
  • Good hygiene habits and keeping oneself clean and fresh at all times.
  • Drink lots of water for better functioning of kidneys. (8-10 glasses of water per day).
  • Avoid coffee.
  • Don’t delay urination.
  • During the treatment, get the urine screened each time you go for a visit to check on the progress and to ensure safety in the future.
  • Constipation can increase the risk of kidney infections. So, consume enough fiber for a good digestion.
  • Avoid cranberry if you are prescribed with any medication for blood thinning.

Finally, genital hygiene and precautions are the utmost vital steps for the prevention and cure of kidney infections and UTI infections regardless of how minor or major they are. Take help of this complete guide explaining the cause in detail, precautions and remedies to have a healthy internal body and for a safe delivery. Healthy Living!

Hope this article was of help to you! Please share your comments/queries/tips with us and help us create a world full of Happy, Healthy and Empowered Women!!

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