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March is National Kidney Month, which makes this a good time to learn more about urinary tract and kidney infections.
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system — your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Most infections involve the lower urinary tract — the bladder and the urethra.
Women are at greater risk than men of developing a UTI because women have shorter urethras, which shortens the distance that bacteria must travel to reach the bladder. Infection limited to your bladder can be painful and annoying. However, serious consequences can occur if a UTI spreads to your kidneys.
A kidney infection requires prompt medical attention. If not treated properly, a kidney infection can permanently damage your kidneys, or the bacteria can spread to your bloodstream and cause a life-threatening infection. Kidney infection treatment, which usually includes antibiotics, might require hospitalization.
Learn more about the symptoms of kidney infection and what you can do to reduce your risk.