(Infection, Kidney; Pyelonephritis)
DefinitionKidney infections may occur in one or both kidneys.The kidneys remove waste from the body through urine. They also balance the water and mineral content in the blood. An infection may prevent them from working properly.
|Anatomy of the Kidney|
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CausesKidney infections are caused by a bacteria. The specific type of bacteria can vary. The bacteria most often comes from an untreated bladder infection .
Risk FactorsBacteria may be introduced to the urinary tract and ultimately the kidneys by:
- Sexual activity
- Conditions that block or slow the flow of urine such as:
- Enlarged prostate gland
- Kidney stones
- Birth defect of the urinary tract, including vesicoureteral reflux
- Having a test to examine the bladder— cystoscopy
- Catheter or stent placed in the urinary tract
- Conditions that impair bladder emptying like multiple sclerosis and spina bifida
- Recurrent urinary tract infection
- Polycystic kidneys
- Sickle cell anemia
- Previous kidney transplant
- Weakened immune system
SymptomsSymptoms of kidney infection may include:
- Pain in the abdomen, lower back, side, or groin
- Frequent urination
- Urgent urination that produces only a small amount of urine
- Sensation of a full bladder—even after urination
- Burning pain with urination
- Fever and chills
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pus and blood in the urine
- Loss of appetite
DiagnosisYour doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A kidney infection is diagnosed with urine tests . The urine is examined for:
- Bacteria or other signs of infection
- Other abnormal elements
TreatmentComplications from untreated or poorly treated kidney infection can lead to:
- A serious infection that spreads throughout the body— sepsis
- Chronic infection
- Severe kidney disease, which may result in scarring of tissue or permanent damage
PreventionSurgical correction of vesicoureteral reflux in children may reduce risk for pyelonephritis.Since kidney infection is often a complication of a bladder infection. You can prevent bladder infections if you:
- Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Cranberry juice is a good choice to prevent bladder infection.
- Practice good hygiene.
- Urinate when you need to.
- Take showers rather than baths.
- For women:
- Wipe from the front to the back after using the toilet.
- Urinate before and after sex. Drink water to help flush bacteria.
- Avoid genital deodorant sprays and douches.
- Circumcision in men is associated with a reduced risk of bladder infection
National Kidney Foundation
Urology Care Foundation
The Kidney Foundation of Canada
Women's Health Matters
Complicated urinary tract infection (UTI). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated July 1, 2014. Accessed August 13, 2014.
Pyelonephritis: Kidney infection. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases and Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/pyelonephritis/index.aspx. Updated June 11, 2012. Accessed August 13, 2014.
Uncomplicated urinary tract infection (UTI). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 16, 2014. Accessed August 13, 2014.
Urinary tract infection (UTI) in men. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 27, 2014. Accessed August 13, 2014.
3/6/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Nikolaidis P, Casalino DD, Remer EM. American College of Radiology Appropriateness Criteria Acute Pyelonephritis. National Guideline Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://www.guideline.gov/content.aspx?id=37923. Updated 2012.
- Reviewer: Adrienne Carmack, MD
- Review Date: 08/2014
- Update Date: 09/30/2013
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