A kidney infection, also known as pyelonephritis, is a type of urinary tract infection that starts in the urethra or bladder and travels up into the kidneys. This can happen when bacteria enter the body through the urethra and multiply, leading to infection.

The symptoms can include pain in the back or side below the ribs, frequent urination, strong and persistent urge to urinate, burning sensation or pain while urinating, pus or blood in the urine, fever, and other flu-like symptoms. If not treated promptly, a kidney infection can lead to serious health complications.

In most cases, oral antibiotics can treat kidney infections, but sometimes, severe infections may require hospitalization. Practicing good hygiene and drinking plenty of water can help prevent kidney infection.

Kidney infection

Causes of Kidney infection

A kidney infection, also known as pyelonephritis, is usually caused by bacteria entering the urethra and traveling up into the bladder, then further up into the kidneys.

Here are the main causes of kidney infection:

1. Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs): Most kidney infections are caused by bacteria that first infect your lower urinary tract, usually the bladder.

2. Bacteria from an Infection Elsewhere in Your Body: Although it’s less common, bacteria can also enter your bloodstream and travel to your kidneys.

3. Obstruction of the Urinary Tract: Anything that slows the flow of urine or reduces your ability to empty your bladder may increase the risk of a kidney infection. This includes a kidney stone or enlarged prostate.

4. Urinary Catheter: A urinary catheter, a tube inserted into the bladder through the urethra to drain urine, can provide a way for bacteria to reach the kidneys.

5. Weakened Immune System: Conditions that weaken the body’s defenses, such as diabetes, can increase the risk of kidney infections.

6. Vesicoureteral Reflux: This is a condition where urine flows backward from the bladder into the kidneys.

Kidney infections can be serious, requiring immediate medical attention. They can be resolved with antibiotics and potentially, hospitalization. It’s important to recognize and treat them promptly to avoid complications, including permanent kidney damage.

Risk Factors of Kidney infection

Kidney infections, also known as pyelonephritis, are primarily a type of urinary tract infection (UTI) that starts in the urethra or bladder and travels up into the kidneys. Here are some risk factors:

1. Female Anatomy: Women have a greater risk of kidney infections than men because a woman’s urethra is shorter, preventing a quick removal of bacteria from the body.

2. Issues in the Urinary Tract: Conditions that slow the flow of urine from your kidneys or lead to buildup can increase risk. These might include kidney stones, an enlarged prostate, or congenital anomalies in the urinary tract structure.

3. Weakened Immune System: Conditions that impair the immune system, like diabetes, HIV, or treatments for cancer and other diseases can increase susceptibility.

4. Use of Urinary Catheter: Using a urinary catheter for a prolonged time also increases the risk of kidney infection.

5. Vesicoureteral Reflux: A condition that causes urine to flow the wrong way, back up into the kidneys.

6. Nerve or Spinal Cord Damage: This can impede the signals between bladder and brain, leading to urine retention and subsequent risk of infection.

Remember, kidney infections are serious and require prompt medical attention. If left untreated, kidney infections can lead to life-threatening complications.

Signs and Symptoms of Kidney infection

Kidney infection, also known as pyelonephritis, is a serious type of urinary tract infection. Some signs and symptoms may include:

1. Back, side (flank) or groin pain.
2. High fever.
3. Shaking and chills.
4. Nausea and vomiting.
5. Persistent urge to urinate.
6. Frequent urination, sometimes with only a small amount of urine.
7. Burning or pain during urination.
8. Cloudy, dark, bloody, or strong-smelling urine.
9. Feeling of pressure in your lower belly.
10. Tiredness or fatigue.

In older adults or others who may not experience classic symptoms, confusion or sudden changes in mental function could also be a sign of a kidney infection.

It’s important to remember that these symptoms can also be due to other conditions. If you experience any of these symptoms, especially persistent pain, high fever, or changes in urination, you should seek medical attention.

Diagnosis Kidney infection

A kidney infection, also known as pyelonephritis, is a type of urinary tract infection that typically starts in your urethra or bladder and travels to your kidneys. It’s often caused by bacteria that enter your urinary tract and then multiply, leading to an infection.

Symptoms can include lower back pain, fever, and frequent, painful urination. There may also be a feeling of needing to urinate frequently, pain in the lower abdomen, and blood in the urine.

The infection is usually diagnosed through urine tests which can detect the presence of bacteria or white blood cells, which are signs of infection. In certain cases, imaging tests such as ultrasound or CT scans may also be used.

Treatment usually involves antibiotics to kill the bacteria causing the infection. In severe cases, hospitalization may be required to administer intravenous antibiotics and fluids.

If not treated promptly, a kidney infection can lead to serious health problems, including kidney damage and septicemia (blood poisoning). Therefore, it’s important to seek medical attention if you have symptoms of a kidney infection.

Maintaining good hygiene, staying well-hydrated, and promptly treating bladder infections can help reduce the risk of developing a kidney infection.

Treatment of Kidney infection

Here are the general steps involved in treating a kidney infection:

1. Antibiotics: This is the most common treatment for kidney infections. Your doctor might prescribe oral antibiotics or have them administered intravenously in serious cases. Depending on the type of bacteria causing the infection, different types of antibiotics may be used.

2. Hospitalization: If the infection is severe, hospitalization may be necessary. Patients with severe kidney infections are given antibiotics and fluids intravenously. Individuals who are very sick, older adults, or those with potential complications may need to stay in the hospital longer for close monitoring.

3. Pain Medication: Over-the-counter or prescribed pain medications may also be recommended by the doctor to help alleviate the pain and discomfort.

4. Follow-Up: Regular follow-up is usually required to ensure the infection has completely cleared. For severe infections or infections that keep coming back, a specialist in urinary tract diseases might be needed.

Additionally, drinking lots of fluids can help to flush bacteria out of the body and prevent further infections.

Remember to always consult with a doctor or a medical professional for appropriate medical advice and treatment.

Medications commonly used for Kidney infection

Kidney infections, also known as pyelonephritis, are typically caused by bacteria entering the kidneys, usually from a urinary tract infection. Treatment usually involves antibiotics. Here are some commonly used medications:

1. Ciprofloxacin (Cipro): This antibiotic is commonly used to treat kidney infections. It belongs to a class of drugs called fluoroquinolones and prevents bacteria from growing.

2. Levofloxacin (Levaquin): Another fluoroquinolone antibiotic that interferes with bacterial enzymes, inhibiting bacteria reproduction and growth.

3. Amoxicillin or Augmentin: These belong to the penicillin group of antibiotics and may be used if the infection is mild to moderate in severity.

4. Trimethoprim-Sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra): These antibiotics are often used because they inhibit the growth of the bacteria that can cause kidney infections.

5. Azithromycin (Zithromax): This antibiotic is often used for its broad-spectrum activity against many types of bacteria.

Each of these antibiotics has possible side effects, such as nausea, diarrhea, and sensitivity to the sun. You should take the medication as prescribed by your healthcare provider, even if you start to feel better. Failure to take the full course may lead to recurrence of the infection.

Kidney infection


In severe cases or in the presence of other serious health conditions, hospitalization may be required and antibiotics might be given intravenously.

Please note, I’m an AI and this is a general rundown of common medications used to treat kidney infections. Your healthcare provider will select an antibiotic based on the bacteria causing the infection and your individual health circumstances. Always consult a healthcare provider for any medical advice.

Prevention of Kidney infection

Kidney infection, also known as pyelonephritis, can be quite serious. Here are some steps you can take to prevent kidney infections:

1. Hydration: Regularly drinking fluids, particularly water, can help flush out bacteria from your body and reduce the risk of infection.

2. Emptying the bladder frequently: Try not to resist the urge to urinate, and make sure to empty your bladder completely when you do. This can help prevent the buildup of bacteria.

3. Urinate after sexual intercourse: This action can also help flush out bacteria and reduce the risk of UTI, which can lead to kidney infection if not properly treated.

4. Good hygiene: Wiping from front to back (especially for women) after going to the toilet can help prevent bacteria from the anal region spreading to the urethra and bladder.

5. Avoid using irritating feminine products: Using products like douches and powders in the genital area can irritate the urethra and lead to an increased risk of kidney infection.

6. Regular urinalysis: Regular urine tests can help detect any abnormalities or infections early, allowing for timely treatment.

7. Treating UTIs promptly: Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can lead to kidney infections if not treated quickly. If you have symptoms of a UTI, such as painful urination, cloudy urine, or lower back pain, you should see your doctor promptly.

Remember, it is essential to consult your healthcare provider or a doctor regarding any symptoms or concerns about the prevention of kidney infection. Following their recommended guidelines will be the best course of action.

FAQ’s about Kidney infection

Kidney infection, also known as pyelonephritis, is a type of urinary tract infection that generally begins in your urethra or bladder and travels to one or both of your kidneys. Here are some FAQs concerning kidney infections:

1. What are the symptoms of a kidney infection?
Usually, symptoms include fever, back, side (flank) or groin pain, abdominal pain, frequent urination, strong, persistent urge to urinate, burning sensation or pain during urination, nausea and vomiting, pus or blood in your urine, and urgency to urinate.

2. How does one get a kidney infection?
Kidney infections often occur as a result of an infection in the bladder that spreads to the kidneys. They may also occur if bacteria or other infectious agents are carried to the kidneys from other areas of your body through the bloodstream.

3. How is a kidney infection diagnosed?
A urine test can reveal whether you have a kidney infection. Sometimes your doctor might also recommend a blood test, an ultrasound, a CT scan, or type of X-ray known as a voiding cystourethrogram.

4. How is a kidney infection treated?
Kidney infections are usually treated with antibiotics. Hospitalization may be required if the infection is severe, or if it doesn’t improve with oral antibiotics. Oral antibiotics are then often continued at home for a week or two.

5. Are there long-term complications from kidney infections?
If treated promptly, kidney infections typically cause no lasting damage. However, if left untreated, a kidney infection can lead to serious health complications, including kidney damage, sepsis or a pus-filled pocket in the kidney.

6. How can I prevent kidney infections?
Prevention methods often reflect those used to prevent bladder infections: drink plenty of liquids, urinate regularly, and, for women, urinate soon after intercourse and avoid irritating feminine products.

7. Are certain people more prone to kidney infections?
Some people are more likely to get kidney infections than others. Women have a higher risk because of their shorter urethra. Conditions that block the urinary tract such as kidney stones, an enlarged prostate or structural abnormalities can also increase risk. People with a weakened immune system are also more susceptible.

Remember to consult with a healthcare provider for accurate information.

Useful links

Kidney infection, also known as Pyelonephritis, is a type of urinary tract infection that starts in the urethra or bladder and travels to one or both of your kidneys. It requires prompt medical attention.

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28087935/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3888049/

For consultation with a medical professional and guidance for more personalized treatment, it’s advisable to visit a health center. Additionally, gaining access to some articles or journals may require a purchase or subscription. Always make sure to verify the information from the sources you are reading.

Complications of Kidney infection

A kidney infection, known medically as pyelonephritis, is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. It is usually caused by bacteria and can occur from an infection originating anywhere in the urinary tract, such as the bladder, urethra, or ureter. Here are some potential complications if it’s not properly treated:

1. Kidney Damage: Permanent damage to your kidneys may occur with recurrent or severe infections. This could eventually lead to kidney failure, which is a severe, life-threatening condition.

2. Blood Poisoning (Sepsis): The bacteria causing the kidney infection can spread into your bloodstream, resulting in sepsis, a condition that can be life-threatening.

3. Kidney Abscess: In rare cases, a kidney infection can lead to an abscess. This is a pocket of pus that forms around the kidney and can cause lower back pain, fever, and blood in the urine.

4. Pregnancy Complications: Pregnant women are at higher risk to develop kidney infections. These can lead to low birth weight or premature delivery.

5. Recurrent Infections: If there are structural problems in the urinary tract, or an underlying condition that suppresses the immune system, recurrent infections can occur.

6. Hypertension: Chronic kidney infections can lead to high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.

If you suspect you have a kidney infection, it’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly to reduce the risk of these complications. Treatment typically involves antibiotics and in severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary.

Home remedies of Kidney infection

A kidney infection is a serious medical condition that requires a medical professional’s attention. It’s essential that you consult a doctor if you suspect a kidney infection. However, you can take some steps at home to support your recovery alongside prescribed treatment. Remember, these should not replace seeking professional medical care.

1. Hydration: Staying well-hydrated can help to flush out bacteria from your urinary tract and kidneys.

2. Pain Management: Over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage pain, but should not be relied upon as the sole treatment.

3. Rest: Rest is crucial to allow your body to heal.

4. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol: Both can cause dehydration and potentially worsen the infection.

5. Use a Heating Pad: A heating pad on your back can help alleviate pain associated with a kidney infection.

6. Vitamin C: Consuming foods rich in Vitamin C can help as it makes urine more acidic, which prevents bacteria from growing.

7. Avoid irritants: Spicy foods, artificial sweeteners, and carbonated drinks can irritate your bladder and worsen your symptoms. Try to avoid them during your recovery.

8. Probiotics: These promote a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut and may prevent harmful bacteria from causing a kidney infection.

9. Urinate Regularly: Avoid holding urine for too long as it can lead to bacterial buildup.

Note, these steps can help manage symptoms, but treatment of the underlying infection should be handled by a healthcare provider. Untreated kidney infection can lead to severe complications, including kidney damage or sepsis.

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Last Update: January 3, 2024