Sepsis and Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are a common infection that affect more women than men. Most often, they are treated quickly and effectively with antibiotics, the infection becoming a distant memory. Unfortunately, not all UTIs are treated quickly and some aren’t even identified quickly, particularly in people who have limited or no sensation below the waist or who are unable to speak for themselves.

An untreated UTI may spread to the kidney, causing more pain and illness. It can also cause sepsis. The term urosepsis is usually used to describe sepsis caused by a UTI.

Sometimes called blood poisoning, sepsis is the body's often deadly response to infection or injury. Sepsis kills and disables millions and requires early suspicion and rapid treatment for survival.

People shouldn’t die from a UTI, but if sepsis begins to take over and develops to severe sepsis and then to septic shock, this is exactly what can happen. More than half the cases of urosepsis among older adults are caused by a UTI. Worldwide, one-third of people who develop sepsis die. Many who do survive are left with organ dysfunction and/or amputations.

What Is a Urinary Tract Infection?

A urinary tract infection is an infection in the urinary tract, which runs from your kidneys, through the ureters, the urinary bladder and out through the urethra. UTIs are very common and, in general, easy to treat.

A lower UTI, the more common type, affects the lower part of the urinary tract, the urethra and urinary bladder. Infection of the urethra is called urethritis and of the bladder is called cystitis. If the kidney is infected, called pyelonephritis, this is an upper UTI, as the kidney is the highest part of the urinary tract.

A UTI can be caused by bacteria (the most common type of infection) or a fungus.

How Do You Get a UTI?

The design of the human body makes it so it isn’t difficult to get a bacterial UTI, because the infection comes from outside, through the urethra. Although the UTI is a sterile environment, free of bacteria, the genital area is not. The bacteria can be near the opening of the urethra and find its way in, either through wiping after going to the bathroom, sexual activity, or unsanitary conditions. Once the bacteria has entered the urethra, the body tries its best to fight it off, but sometimes the immune system can’t do this, the bacteria multiply, and cause the infection.

In the case of a fungal infection, usually the fungus gets to the urinary tract through the blood stream. Those who develop this type of infection are usually ill with a disease that has compromised their immune system, such as AIDS. (Sepsis and HIV/AIDS)

In general, women get more UTIs than do men and this increases with age. Statistics show that many women get more than one. Almost 20% of women who have had one UTI will go on to have a second. Of this 20%, 30% of those will have a third, and in turn, 80% of these women will have more. (NKUDIC)

Famous People Who Developed Sepsis From a UTI: 

Mariana Bridi Costa, Brazilian model  

 Born June 18, 1988, died January 24, 2009 due to sepsis from a UTI. The 20-year-old had undergone amputations of both hands to stem the disease four days before she died.



Etta James, singer

In January 2010, 72-year-old Etta James was admitted to the hospital for treatment of sepsis that developed from a UTI. Her son admitted in February that Ms James also lives with Alzheimer’s disease. 



Ms James, a four-time Grammy winner, is most famous for her song, At Last.



Pope John-Paul II

Born May 18, 1920, died April 2, 2005 of sepsis following a UTI.