Urinary tract infection

Complications of a urinary tract infection

Complications of a UTI aren't common, but they can be serious.

Complications usually only affect people with a pre-existing health condition, such as diabetes or a weakened immune system.

You're also more likely to get complications from a UTI when you're pregnant, so it's important to tell a doctor if you are pregnant and have any of the symptoms of a UTI.

The complications of UTIs are discussed below.


Men experiencing recurrent UTIs are at risk of complications that affect the prostate, such as prostatitis.

Prostatitis is inflammation (swelling) of the prostate gland, which can cause pain when urinating or ejaculating and general discomfort in the pelvic area.

A four-week course of antibiotics can be used to treat prostatitis and the symptoms usually pass within two weeks.

Read more about prostatitis.

Kidney infection

kidney infection (pyelonephritis) can happen when bacteria travel from the bladder to the kidneys.

A kidney infection doesn't usually pose a serious threat to your health if treated promptly, but it can make you feel very unwell. If a kidney infection isn't treated, it can get worse and cause permanent kidney damage.

The symptoms often appear quickly, often within a few hours. You may feel feverish, shivery, sick and have a pain in your back or side.

Read more about the symptoms of a kidney infection and treating a kidney infection.

Kidney failure

Kidney failure is when the kidneys stop working properly. If a person has kidney failure (also known as renal failure), they may need to have artificial kidney treatment, called dialysis.

Find out more about dialysis.

Blood poisoning

Blood poisoning (sepsis) is a rare but potentially fatal complication of kidney infection. It happens when bacteria spread from the kidneys into the bloodstream.

Once bacteria are in your blood, the infection can spread to any part of your body, including the major organs.

Blood poisoning is a medical emergency that usually requires admission to a hospital intensive care unit (ICU) while antibiotics are used to fight the infection.

Find out more about the symptoms of blood poisoning and treating blood poisoning.

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