Basic information for topics, such as “What is it?” and “How many people are affected?” is available in the Condition Information section. In addition, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that are specific to a certain topic are answered in this section.
Most UTIs are not serious. Kidney infections are an important exception because they may lead to serious problems.1 Chronic kidney infections—those that keep coming back or last a long time—can cause permanent damage, including kidney scars, poor kidney function, high blood pressure, and kidney failure.
Acute kidney infections develop suddenly and can require hospitalization. This is especially true if the bacteria enter the bloodstream and cause a life-threatening condition called septicemia (pronounced sep-tuh-SEE-mee-uh) or sepsis, a whole-body infection that can also be serious.
Pregnant women are more likely to get UTIs than other women and, when the infection does occur, it is more likely to travel to the kidneys. Pregnant women should see a health care provider as soon as they notice UTI symptoms.
If left untreated, a kidney infection can have serious and permanent or long-term effects, including:
Pregnant women and young children are especially vulnerable to kidney infections.1
It is not always possible to prevent UTIs, but several lifestyle habits can reduce the likelihood that a person will contract a UTI
In addition, women should:
Although some laboratory tests and smaller studies once suggested that cranberry juice might prevent UTIs, the latest research indicates that drinking cranberry juice does not prevent UTIs.2
No, UI is not a normal part of growing older, although it is more common among older people. Talk to a health care provider about the following age-related body changes that may cause or aggravate UI:3
Kegel exercises strengthen the muscles that support the pelvic floor and tighten the urethra, which can help reduce UI in women. They can benefit women with stress or urge incontinence. Like any type of exercise, Kegel exercises only work as long as a woman does them. Once a woman stops the exercises, the muscles will become weak again and UI might return to its previous level.
For Kegel exercise tips and more information, visit http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/KUDiseases/pubs/bcw_ez/insertC.aspx.
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