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What is Urosepsis?

Mary McMahon
Updated Feb 06, 2024
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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.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon345209 — On Aug 16, 2013

My sister, who was 39 years old, died just a few days ago of this. When she complained of chest pains, she was told she was having panic attacks and sent home with Cipro. That was three weeks ago. She was already running high fever, having trouble urinating, and back pain, but the doctor was not concerned. She meticulously followed the instructions given her by the hospital. When she went back a week later, she was sent to another hospital, but the infection had moved to the valves in her heart.

By the time she was at a hospital that knew what was going on and started the proper treatment, she had D.I.C. and she just bled out. This should never have happened. It was not treated correctly to start with and they stayed behind the illness until her death.

By anon316300 — On Jan 28, 2013

Is this associated in any way with cancer? My sister of 58 just died of this condition and I am trying to find out how this could have happened to her.

By anon298633 — On Oct 21, 2012

I had been feeling weak for three weeks, until finally I couldn't even hold up a glass of water. I went to have lab work done. I thought I had the flu or might be anemic. The doctor ordered IV antibiotics at once, and all the while I was just waiting for my body to fight off what I thought was the flu. I'm still taking oral antibiotics and feeling so much better.

By Renegade — On Jan 14, 2011

A blood problem called hypokalemia (Gk. Hypo-, Latin "kalium," potassium) occurs when the potassium in the blood is abnormally low. This potassium can get lost in the urine and have very negative effects on the body. Potassium is necessary to various functions, including heart problems. Making sure you have solid diet of sufficient potassium with foods such as tomatoes and various fruits and vegetables.

By ShadowGenius — On Jan 14, 2011

Another serious blood problem is hypotension. This occurs when blood pressure is abnormally low. The Greek root "hypo-" means below, and therefore the word means below normal tension, or pressure. Like Urosepsis, this condition can cause urinary issues, such as foul smelling urine.

By JavaGhoul — On Jan 12, 2011

Etiology is the study of causation, and is used in the medical field. When there is a problem with the bloodstream, it can be traced to a urinary tract infection. It is important to recognize the cause and effect of various issues in the medical field in order to treat them.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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