When treated properly, urinary tract infections very rarely lead to complication. Nevertheless, when left untreated, a UTI can be life threatening.
Untreated UTI complications
If not treated in time, lower urinary tract infections can advances to the upper urinary tract and develop complications. Symptoms that indicate upper UTI (e.g., pyelonephritis) in adults include the following:
- High fever
- Pain under the ribs
If not treated in time, pyelonephritis could permanently damage the kidneys.
Younger children and older adults are at the greatest risk of kidney damage due to urinary tract infections. Because these symptoms may often be mistakenly, diagnose as some other condition.
Pregnant women who had urinary tract infection may have a risk of delivering low birth weight or premature infants.
UTI can cause significant impairment of the quality of life during symptom periods, and affect social function, vitality, and emotional well-being.
Obstruction and Widespread Infection - Severe upper urinary tract infections may cause obstruction that results in widespread infection and even life threatening. Patients who develop UTIs in the hospital are at more risk for such infections than others are. In kidney infection that obstructs the ureter, a mortality rate is more than 40%. Suspect this specific condition in people with diabetes who have severe UTIs.
Women with diabetes have more frequent and more severe UTIs than women without it and are often hospitalization for kidney infections. In fact, the most serious, but rare, complications of urinary tract infections (pyelonephritis, widespread infections, abscesses, inflammation of the bladder wall) occur most often in patients with diabetes.
Kidney Damage - In high-risk adults, recurrent UTIs may cause kidney’s scar, which over time can develop hypertension and eventual kidney failure. People with frequent UTIs who develop serious kidney disease are likely to have been other predisposing diseases or structural abnormalities.