What Kidney Infection Means

PyelonephritisPyelonephritis is also known as kidney infection. Similar to the other parts of your body, your kidneys can also acquire an infection. Most of the time, the cause involves bacteria that are able to get to your lower urinary tract and proliferate in your bladder and kidneys. It can be due to lack of proper hygiene, an alkaline pH or the presence of an obstruction.

Pyelonephritis more commonly happens in women than in men because of their shorter urethra. Older people and those who have lower immune systems, such as those with AIDS, cancer and diabetes are also more at risk for this type of infection.

Acute kidney infection happens suddenly. The chronic type, on the other hand, results from an infection that is recurring. Patients who suffer from the chronic pyelonephritis are those people who have anatomical problems, stones, and struvites.

Causes of kidney infection

Aside from the factors mentioned above, other causes of pyelonephritis include:

  • Catheterization
  • Taking certain medications
  • Presence of spinal cord or nerve damage
  • Cystoscopic examination
  • Enlarged prostate

As with any infection, one of the cardinal signs of pyelonephritis is a fever of more than 102 degrees. The fever is often accompanied by pain to the sides that can extend to the abdomen and the groin. Other symptoms include:

  • Painful or burning sensation when urinating
  • Cloudy to blood-tinged urine
  • Feeling ill
  • Chills
  • Fatigue

How is kidney infection diagnosed?

Most patients’ consultations are prompted by the symptoms. The diagnostic procedure includes physical assessments to check for tenderness in the abdominal area as well as pain. Aside from these procedures, the doctor can also ask patients to submit for a urine test to check for the presence of bacteria, pus or blood. If an obstruction is suspected, he can also order an X-ray or MRI to get a clear visual assessment of your urinary tract.

How is it treated?

Doctors can prescribe antibiotics to treat get rid of the bacteria causing the infection. Typically, treatment can last from 7 to 14 days. If oral antibiotics are ineffective, patients may have to be admitted to the hospital for intravenous antibiotics. Pain reliever and medications for fever can also be prescribed.


If left untreated, pyelonephritis can lead to several potential complications. For one, if the root cause of the infection isn’t completely eliminated, it can lead to a recurrent infection. It can also cause pus to form and accumulate in your kidneys. In case there’s no proper management done, the accumulated pus and infection can spread throughout your system and cause sepsis. It’s a potentially lethal complication, particularly if the infection reaches your brain. Recurrent untreated kidney infection can also lead to acute renal failure.

If you suspect Pyelonephritis, you should seek medical attention immediately as the results may be far more serious than you think.