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Healthgrades Editorial Staff

What is urosepsis?

Sepsis is a life-threatening bacterial infection of the blood; urosepsis is sepsis that complicates a urinary tract infection. Urosepsis requires treatment with antibiotics and may require supportive therapies such as intravenous fluids and oxygen. If undiagnosed or untreated, urosepsis can progress to septic shock, a serious and life-threatening condition complicated by dropping blood pressure, rapid heart and breathing rates, decreasing urine output, and alterations in mental status.

The urinary tract consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. The kidneys filter the blood, creating urine, which travels through the ureters to the bladder, where it is stored until it exits the body through the urethra. In the male, the prostate wraps around the urethra as it travels from the bladder to the penis. Most of the time, bacteria that cause urosepsis enter the body through the urethra and make their way to the prostate or kidney before entering the bloodstream.

Symptoms of uncomplicated urinary tract infections can include burning with urination, the need to go to the bathroom frequently or urgently, cloudy urine, and pelvic or lower abdominal discomfort. Fever may be present. If pyelonephritis (kidney infection) is present, back or abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, high fever, shaking chills, night sweats, and fatigue may also occur. Any of these symptoms may precede the development of urosepsis.

Urosepsis is more common in women than in men, and is more likely to occur in the elderly or people who have weakened immune systems or conditions such as diabetes. Obstruction of the flow of urine by an enlarged prostate, kidney or bladder stones, tumors, or urethral scarring increases the risk of urosepsis, as does any condition that interferes with bladder emptying. Instrumentation of the urinary tract during surgeries, procedures, or catheterization increases the risk of infections that can lead to urosepsis.

Urosepsis is a life-threatening emergency. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have symptoms of sepsis such as high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), rapid breathing, fast heart rate, weak pulse, profuse sweating, unusual anxiety, changes in mental status or level of consciousness, or decreased or absent urinary output.

Seek prompt medical care if you have symptoms suggestive of a urinary tract infection without symptoms of sepsis.

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Nov 18, 2016

© 2017 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. Sepsis. PubMed Health, a service of the NLM from the NIH.
  2. Urinary tract infection - adults. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.

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