The Difference Between a UTI and Kidney Infection: Here’s What to Know

A woman sitting on the edge of her bed keeled over in pain, holding one hand to her stomach and one to her forehead.

Urinary tract infections and kidney infections are often grouped together, but they differ in severity and impact on the body. 

Understanding the nuances between these conditions is crucial for accurate diagnosis and timely treatment. Let’s delve into the specifics of UTIs versus kidney infections to recognize their differences, symptoms, and appropriate treatments.

Continue reading to learn more.

What is a UTI?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a bacterial infection affecting any part of the urinary system—bladder, urethra, ureters, or kidneys. 

It commonly begins in the lower urinary tract and, if untreated, can progress to the kidneys. 

UTIs are often characterized by frequent and painful urination, a strong urge to urinate, and cloudy or strong-smelling urine.

What is a Kidney Infection?

A kidney Infection, also known as pyelonephritis, is a more severe type of UTI that specifically affects the kidneys. It occurs when bacteria travel from the bladder up the ureters and into the kidneys. 

This condition is typically accompanied by symptoms such as fever, back or side pain, nausea, vomiting, and common UTI symptoms.

The Main Differences Between a UTI and Kidney Infection

The primary difference between a UTI and a kidney infection lies in the affected areas of the urinary system. 

A UTI can occur in any part of the urinary tract, while a kidney infection specifically targets the kidneys. 

UTI symptoms generally involve discomfort in the lower urinary tract, whereas kidney infections often present with more severe symptoms, including high fever and back pain.

I Have Blood in My Urine. Is it a UTI or Kidney Infection?

The presence of blood in the urine, known as hematuria, can occur in both UTIs and kidney infections. However, blood in the urine is more commonly associated with kidney infections due to the infection’s impact on the kidneys themselves. 

If you notice blood in your urine, it’s essential to seek medical attention promptly to determine the exact cause and receive appropriate treatment.

Other Signs of a UTI or Kidney Infection

While symptoms like frequent urination and pain while urinating are common in both UTIs and kidney infections, additional signs of a kidney infection include high fever, chills, back or side pain, nausea, and vomiting. 

These systemic symptoms are typically absent or less pronounced in uncomplicated UTIs.

UTI vs. Kidney Infection Treatment 

Treatment for UTIs often involves a course of antibiotics to eradicate the bacterial infection. 

Kidney infections may require more aggressive treatment, including stronger antibiotics and, in severe cases, hospitalization for intravenous (IV) antibiotics. To prevent complications, seeking medical attention promptly for a kidney infection is crucial.

Understanding the differences between UTIs and kidney infections empowers you to recognize symptoms and seek timely and appropriate medical treatment. 

If you suspect a urinary tract infection or kidney infection, visit us for expert assessment and treatment tailored to your needs. 

Comprehensive Bladder Health Services in Southaven

UTIs and bladder infections aren’t just uncomfortable; if left untreated, they can escalate into serious complications like kidney infections. Recognizing the urgency of timely treatment for these conditions is crucial for your overall well-being.

At Getwell Urgent Care, our dedicated team is accessible seven days a week, ensuring swift and effective bladder infection treatment. Don’t hesitate to seek expert treatment promptly.

Rest assured, your health and comfort matter to us, and we’re committed to delivering the care and reassurance you need during these challenging times.