Kidney Infection: Symptoms, Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

The kidney helps the body to get rid of waste and remove extra water from your blood. The kidneys are part of the urinary tract, which produces urine and get rid of it from your body.

READ ALSO: Blood in Urine (Hematuria): Symptoms, Causes, Complications, and Treatment

The urinary tract consists of:

  • Kidneys: to clean waste from your blood and produce urine
  • Ureters (thin tubes on each kidney that carry urine to your bladder
  • Bladder: This organ helps to store urine
  • Urethra: This carries pee from the bladder to outside your body

Urinary tract infection(UTI) occurs if any of these organs gets infected with bacteria. It’s mostly the bladder that gets infected. If those bacteria travel up the ureters, it can lead to a kidney infection, also called “pyelonephritis.”

Untreated kidney infection can result to deadly complications.

Symptoms of Kidney Infection

You may have:

  • Fever and chills
  • Blood or pus in your urine
  • Lack of appetite
  • Stomach upset
  • Fatigue
  • Pain in lower back, side, or groin
  • Cloudy of foul-smelling urine
  • Excess urination
  • Burning sensation when you urinate
  • Constant urge to urinate
  • Pain in your lower belly

Consult your doctor if you have these symptoms and suspect a kidney infection. If left untreated for long, it could lead to kidney damage or blood infection, which is deadly. Kidney infection can affect a woman and her unborn child during pregnancy.

Causes of Kidney Infection

Kidney infection usually begins with a bladder infection that spreads to the kidney. Usually, E. coli cause the infection to begin with. Other bacteria can also cause kidney infections.

READ ALSO: 8 Natural Remedies for Enlarged Prostate

Risk Factors

Women are more prone to developing kidney infections because their urethra is shorter than that of a men. Apart from being short, the urethra of a woman is closer to the vagina and anus, where bacteria live. This makes it easier for bacteria to get into a woman’s urethra, and it’s a shorter trip to the bladder. From there, they can spread to the kidneys.

Pregnant women are even more likely to get bladder infections because the baby can mount pressure on the woman’s ureters and slow the flow of urine.

When your urinary tract has any problem, it can prevent urine from flowing forward, thereby raise your chances of a kidney infection, such as:

  • Blockage in the urinary tract,
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Kidney stone
  • Conditions that prevent the bladder from completely draining
  • Structural problem in the urinary tract, like a pinched urethra
  • Vesicoureteral reflux (VUR), a condition where urine flows backward from the bladder toward the kidneys

You are also more likely to get one if you have:

  • Prostate infection (prostatitis)
  • Nerve damage in your bladder
  • A urinary catheter, a tube that goes unto your urethra and drains urine
  • A weakened immune system

Diagnosis of Kidney Infection

To properly diagnose kidney infection, your doctor may ask questions about your signs and symptoms. Other tests include:

  • Urine analysis: This test checks for blood, pus, and bacteria in your urine
  • Urine culture: This is to see what kind of bacteria you have
  • Ultrasound or CT: to check for a blockage in your urinary tract.
  • Voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG): This is a type of X-ray that checks for problems in your urethra and bladder. These are often used in children who have VUR.
  • Digital rectal exam (for men): Your doctor inserts a lubed finger into your anus to check for a swollen prostate.
  • Dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) scintigraphy: This imaging test uses a radioactive material to better see kidney infection and damage

Treatment of Kidney Infection

Your doctor will normally administer antibiotics which you may need for a week or two. Your symptoms should improve within a few days. Ensure you finish the medication as recommended by your doctor even if your symptoms stop. Severe infections may require hospital stay for antibiotics through an IV.

For recurrent kidney infections even after treatment, it may mean you have a structural problem in your urinary tract, this may often require surgery.

Recovery Tips

To help ease your symptoms and facilitate fast recovery:

  • Drink lots of fluids to flush out the bacteria.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Sit on the toilet, don’t squat over it to prevent your bladder from completely emptying
  • Take a pain reliever with acetaminophen

How to Prevent Kidney Infection

In most cases, bladder infections cannot be prevented, but you can reduce your chances of getting it by:

  • Consuming lots of water
  • Avoid use of deodorant sprays or douches on your genitals
  • Wipe front to back after going to the bathroom.
  • Avoiding to delay urge to urinate
  • Avoiding the use of condoms or diaphragms with spermicide
  • Urinating after having sexual intercourse


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Disclaimer: The content provided on is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical doctor or healthcare professional.


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