Urosepsis is a serious secondary infection which occurs when an infection in the urinary tract spreads to the bloodstream. People with urosepsis have bacteria in their blood. Left untreated, this can potentially be fatal. Due to the risk of urosepsis, people are usually advised to receive prompt treatment for urinary tract infections, especially if they are members of a population which is at increased risk of secondary infections which arise from urinary tract infections. If the condition is suspected, treatment should be aggressive and timely to minimize complications.
A urinary tract infection involves bacteria in the urinary tract which can cause symptoms like difficulty urinating or painful urination. Sometimes, the infection travels into the kidneys, causing lower back pain and fever. If the infection enters the bloodstream, people can develop a rapid heart rate and a high fever as their bodies attempt to fight off the bacteria in the blood. Other symptoms include chills and confusion. Urosepsis can ultimately cause severe damage to the heart, which can in turn damage the brain because the brain may not be supplied with the oxygen it needs.
Older adults, especially women, are at increased risk of a secondary infection after the development of a urinary tract infection. People with indwelling catheters can also be more prone to infections of the bloodstream and they are more generally at risk of urinary infections. Kidney stones can also be a risk factor. People who have kidney stones may undergo screening for urosepsis if a doctor suspects that a secondary infection may be occurring.
Patient history and symptoms are often enough for a diagnosis, especially paired with a high white cell count in the blood which indicates the presence of an ongoing infection. Blood can also be cultured to determine which bacteria are responsible. The treatment is antibiotics to kill the bacteria in the bloodstream. Supportive care may also be provided if the patient is experiencing a high fever or other symptoms which could cause complications.
The best way to avoid urosepsis is to avoid urinary tract infections altogether by taking steps which will reduce risks, such as observing hygiene recommendations. Sometimes, however, despite someone's best efforts, an infection sets in. In these cases, patients should go to the doctor to get appropriate treatment before the infection has a chance to spread. People who experience symptoms like a burning sensation upon urinating, the frequent need to urinate, painful urination, and discolored urine should consult a doctor for an evaluation.