3 Severe Complications From an Untreated Urinary Tract Infection

May 7th 2016

Urinary tract infections are usually not dangerous when diagnosed and treated at the first onset of symptoms. However, untreated UTIs can lead to a variety of complications that may increase the risk of permanent kidney damage, kidney failure and severe, life-threatening bacterial infections. Individuals with symptoms of urinary tract infections can greatly reduce the risk of complications by consulting a medical professional and treating their condition as soon as symptoms arise, regardless of severity.

Kidney Infections

A kidney infection is a common complication of a urinary tract infection that occurs when the bacteria causing the UTI travels into the kidneys and continues to multiply. In addition to urinary tract infection symptoms, individuals with kidney infections may also experience severe pain in the abdomen or flank area, high fever and chills.

Left untreated, kidney infections can lead to permanent kidney damage. Over time, severely damaged or scarred kidneys can increase the risk of kidney failure, a condition in which the kidneys no longer function properly. Individuals with kidney failure may require dialysis, also referred to as artificial kidney treatments.

Sepsis

Sepsis is a severe infection in which the immune system releases an excessive amount of chemicals into the bloodstream in response to illnesses or infections. When a urinary tract infection is left untreated and makes its way into the kidneys, sepsis can occur. Symptoms of sepsis include nausea, vomiting, low urine output, chills and lowered body temperature. Sufferers may also experience episodes of mental confusion or hyper-alertness.

Acute Prostatitis

While pregnant women tend to be more susceptible to urinary tract infection complications than men or non-pregnant women, men with untreated UTIs are at risk of developing acute prostatitis, a condition in which the prostate gland becomes inflamed. Untreated acute prostatitis can lead to acute urinary retention, a severe condition in which the urinary tract is unable to pass urine. Symptoms of prostatitis include painful urination, painful ejaculation and pelvic discomfort. Severe cases of acute prostatitis may require hospital treatment.

Conclusion

Urinary tract infections, also referred to as UTIs, are common infections that occur when bacteria enters the urinary system and begins to multiply. Symptoms range from mild to severe and include painful urination, cloudy urine, back pain, urinary urgency and blood in the urine, also referred to as hematuria.

When a urinary tract infection is caught in time, it is usually treatable with antibiotics without any further complications. However, if an infection is left untreated, sufferers can experience life-threatening complications that often require hospitalization. Individuals with urinary tract infections can minimize their risk of developing secondary conditions by learning more about the complications of untreated UTIs and seeking immediate medical treatment for their symptoms.

Sources

MayoClinic.org "Urinary tract infections complications" http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-tract-infection/basics/complications/con-20037892
UMM.edu "Urinary tract infection" http://umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/urinary-tract-infection
NHS.uk "Urinary tract infections in adults-complications" http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Urinary-tract-infection-adults/Pages/Risk-Factors.aspx
WebMD.com "Sepsis (blood infection) and septic shock" http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/sepsis-septicemia-blood-infection
NHS.uk "Prostatitis" http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/prostatitis/pages/introduction.aspx

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