Pyelonephritis


What is pyelonephritis?

Pyelonephritis (Kidney infection) is a urinary tract infection, generally caused by bacteria, that commonly begins in your bladder and then moves upstream to affect one or both of your kidneys. It is usually more serious than an infection that affects the bladder alone (cystitis). In some cases, especially after surgery, the bacterium can enter the bloodstream and then travel to the kidneys.

Cause of Pyelonephritis

Though many bacteria and viruses can cause pyelonephritis, the common cause of pyelonephritis is the bacterium Escherichia coli. In rare cases, kidney infections cause serious health problems, but most complications can be avoided by a quick treatment.  Pyelonephritis can cause permanent damage to your kidneys or cause a life-threatening situation by moving into your bloodstream. The treatment of kidney infection usually requires only antibiotics but in serious cases might need hospitalization.

Types of pyelonephritis

Mild pyelonephritis

It is the early stage of onset of the disease. It can usually be treated by antibiotics prescribed by a physician, and treatment can happen at home. There is little or no risk of organ failure at this stage.

Acute pyelonephritis

Acute pyelonephritis is an organ/life-threatening condition that very often leads to renal scarring. It has moderate to severe symptoms that are characteristic of pyelonephritis. In such cases also, where there are no complications, the outpatient setting works well, with the administration of oral antibiotics at home. In certain cases, that are complicated, the patient will need to be hospitalized.

Chronic pyelonephritis

When repeated or persistent infections occur to the kidneys, the condition is classified as chronic pyelonephritis. The chronic form of the disease is usually prevalent in people with urinary tract obstructions. These can be caused by anatomical anomalies, UTIs, or vesicoureteral reflux.  They are more prevalent in children as opposed to adults.

Symptoms of pyelonephritis

You can expect to start seeing symptoms within just 2 days of the infection. Common symptoms include:

  • A fever with temperatures greater than 102°F (38.9°C)
  • Pain in the abdomen, groin, side, or back.
  • Pain or burning sensation while urinating
  • Cloudy urine
  • Blood or pus in urine
  • Urgent or frequent urination
  • Fish-smelling urine

Other symptoms can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Shaking or chills
  • Moist skin
  • Mental confusion
  • General aching or ill feeling
  • Fatigue

Symptoms may be different in children than they are in adults. For example, mental confusion is a symptom common in older adults with pyelonephritis, and it is often their only symptom.

People with chronic pyelonephritis may experience only mild symptoms or may even lack noticeable symptoms altogether.

Risk factors for a kidney infection

The factors that can increase your risk of a kidney infection are:

  • Women have a urethra that is shorter than in men, making it easier for the bacteria to travel into the body. Also, the vagina, anus, and the urethra are all in close proximity, which makes the spread of bacterial infection through any of them easier. After affecting the bladder, the infection can spread to the kidneys.
  • Blockage of the urinary tract.If your urination is made slow or you are unable to empty your bladder for a number of reasons. The reasons could be a kidney stone, urinary tract structural abnormalities, or even prostate enlargement in men.
  • Weakened immune system.Medical conditions such as HIV and diabetes that impair your immune system put you at greater risk of kidney infection. Similarly, drugs are taken to prevent the rejection of transplanted organs (by controlling the immune response) also can lead to a risk of kidney infection.
  • Damage to nerves around the bladder. Damage to nerves around the bladder can prevent the sensitization of a bladder infection, which in time could develop into pyelonephritis.
  • Using a urinary catheter. The use of a urinary catheter for a while can also increase the risk of kidney infection. Urinary catheters are generally placed after a surgery or a procedure to help with urination.
  • Abnormalities that cause a reversed flow of urine. In vesicoureteral reflux (described later), urine from the bladder goes back into your kidneys. Children usually are affected by this condition. Both children and adults with this condition can be affected by pyelonephritis.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of pyelonephritis is based on symptoms and diagnostic tests. The tests that are conducted are:

  • For urinalysis, the doctor will take a urine sample from you to confirm that you have pyelonephritis. He will test the blood sample for blood or pus. He/she might take a blood sample for culture also. This is a lab test that checks for bacteria or other microorganisms in your blood.
  • Other tests conducted are imaging tests such as a CT scan, ultrasound, or a kind of X-ray (voiding cystourethrogram). Avoiding cystourethrogram takes X-rays of the bladder, by injecting a contrast dye, when full and while urinating.

Treatment of pyelonephritis

Antibiotics for kidney infections

The treatment of kidney infections generally begins with the administration of antibiotics. The drugs you use, their dosage, and their duration depend on your health condition and the bacteria found in the urinalysis.

Usually, only a few days of treatment help ameliorate the signs and symptoms of a kidney infection. However, you may need to need to continue taking the antibiotics for more than a week.  Make sure the course prescribed by the doctor is complete even if the symptoms clear up a little earlier.

The doctor may repeat a urine culture just to make sure the infection is gone. If the tests reveal that you are still infected, you may need to repeat the course of antibiotics. The common antibiotics that are used are levofloxacin, co-trimoxazole, ampicillin, and ciprofloxacin.

Hospitalization for severe kidney infections

In case of severe kidney infections, you may be hospitalized. The antibiotics and fluids may be injected intravenously. The duration of your stay is determined by the severity of your condition. Once you are released from the hospital, you may still have to take antibiotics for the next 10–14 days.

Treatment for recurrent kidney infections

An underlying anatomical problem such as a misshapen urinary tract or obstructions may result in recurrent pyelonephritis. In such a case, the doctor might ask you to consult a kidney specialist (nephrologist) or a urinary surgeon (urologist) for an evaluation. Surgery may be required to correct a structural abnormality. If there is an abscess that cannot be drained by antibiotics, again surgery might be required.

Prevention of pyelonephritis

Most kidney infections begin as bladder infections. Not all bladder infections can be prevented. However, you may be less likely to get one if you take the following steps:

  • Avoid deodorant sprays or douches on your genitals.
  • Don’t use spermicidal condoms or diaphragms. It can trigger the growth of bacteria.
  • In women, an estrogen vaginal cream may be prescribed to keep the tissues around the bladder clean and healthy. This is especially so after
  • Use lubricated condoms as the lube helps to ease the urethra and prevents irritation.
  • Drink a lot of water.
  • Go to the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge to urinate.
  • Always urinate after intercourse. This helps to flush out the bacteria.
  • Wipe from front to back after going to the bathroom. Otherwise, germs from the rectum can be transferred to hand and tissue.

Home remedies to feel better

The following might reduce discomfort when you are recovering from a kidney infection:

  • Place a heating pad on your abdomen, side, or back to ease the pain.
  • If you have discomfort or fever, take a non-aspirin pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, and others).
  • Fluids will help flush bacteria from your urinary tract. Drink plenty of them, but avoid coffee and alcohol. These products can irritate the bladder.
  • Get good rest.

Pregnancy and pyelonephritis

  • Pregnancy can cause many physiological changes in the urinary tract of women. There is an increase in the pressure on the ureters and in progesterone during pregnancy that can also lead to pyelonephritis.
  • Pyelonephritis in pregnant womengenerally requires hospitalization because of the risk of premature delivery. Administering beta-lactam antibiotics for 24 hours helps to treat pyelonephritis in pregnant women.
  • To help prevent pyelonephritis, a urine culture must be done between the 12th and 16th weeks of pregnancy. This is because an asymptomatic UTI can in time lead to pyelonephritis.

Children and pyelonephritis

  • In children, it may be difficult to distinguish between pyelonephritis (upper urinary tract infection) and cystis (lower urinary tract infection) because their symptoms are nearly the same. A case of febrile UTI in children must be considered as pyelonephritis and further tests must be done. This is because several renal scans suggest that a vast majority of children with febrile UTIs have acute cases of pyelonephritis.
  • Children with pyelonephritis exhibit symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and lethargy in addition to fever. Flank pain or dysuria is also noted. On physical examination, you may note flank tenderness and hypertension.
  • Early diagnosis can prevent later complications such as renal scarring, hypertension and renal failure. It can also help better treat dehydration, another complication of acute pyelonephritis, intravenously.
  • VUR (vesicoureteral reflux) is a condition in which urine flows backward from the bladder to one or both ureters and then to the kidneys. High-grade VUR can increase the risk of pyelonephritis. VUR is present in 33% of children affected by pyelonephritis. Other congenital or acquired anomalies like dysplasia, hypoplasia, and obstruction can also increase the risk of UTI, VUR, and pyelonephritis.
  • Even if there are no abnormalities in the urinary tract, cystitis can lead to VUR and VUR in turn can increase the risk of pyelonephritis.

Final Words

Pyelonephritis in most cases is caused by bacteria responsible for a bladder infection moving up the ureters into the kidneys. It is quite rare that bacteria can move from the bloodstream to the kidneys and generally after a surgery. This means that if we can effectively avoid a bladder infection using the remedies mentioned above, we can prevent most cases of pyelonephritis in adults.

Children with VUR need immediate medical attention to correct the condition as it might lead to chronic pyelonephritis. In all cases, it is important to be watchful of symptoms and make an early diagnosis. This will allow the doctor more time to prescribe an appropriate course of antibiotics or suggest hospitalization.

Facts

  • According to a study, incidence rates of acute pyelonephritis were higher in the female population than in the male population for nearly all age groups.

Facts

  • The difference in rates between the sexes, however, appeared to diminish at older ages.

Related Conditions

Want to live a healthy lifestyle?

Subscribe to free FactDr newsletters.

REVAMP YOUR

If you're enjoying our website, we promise you'll absolutely love our new posts. Be the first one to get a copy!

Get factually correct, actionable tips delivered straight to your inbox once a week.

I want the latest scoop on :

We hate spam too. We will never share your email address with anyone. If you change your mind later, you can unsubscribe with just one click

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the FactDr Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of FactDr subscriptions at any time.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos

Dos and Don’ts

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Use washroom whenever it is urgent
  • Take rest

 

Don'ts
  • Use spermicidal condoms or diaphragms.
  • Drink coffee and alcohol.

 

 

 

Related Conditions

Trending Topics

anal sex
Anal Sex : Tips from experts on how to be kinky yet safe Whether it irks you or stokes your fantasies, anal sex has always been an intriguing sexual act. Learn…
Clitoris: Why is it called the gateway to toe-curling female orgasms? The word clitoris comes from the Greek word kleitoris or “little hill.”  Many compare the female clitoris to…
Find the G spot: The top sex positions that guarantee an orgasm There has been a long debate as to whether the G-spot actually exists as a separate organ.  Can…
diverticulitis diet
Diverticulitis diet: The right way to eat if you suffer from the disease Are you suffering from diverticultis but clueless about your diet ? Read this complete plan for diverticulitis diet…
Chromium Picolinate: An essential mineral supplement for faster weight loss Did you know that about 1.6 million deaths were directly linked to diabetes globally? How is it linked…
passion fruit juice
Passion fruit: How one exotic fruit can help you fight infections and cancer! Passion fruit: Why does this exotic fruit have such an enticing name? And how can it protect you…
Penis pump: Pump your way out of erectile dysfunction One of the options to treat erectile dysfunction is by the use of a penis pump. It is…
Maltitol: Things you must know about this artificial sweetener Sugar alcohols are produced by fruits and vegetables. Maltitol is an artificially produced sugar alcohol and is used…
Organic Foods: Is the popularity of pesticide-free food justified? What does the term "organic" really means? And why are organic foods credited as being healthier than normal…
CBC blood test
CBC blood test CBC blood test refers to the complete blood count test that measures the number of RBCs, WBCs, etc…
calories healthy
Calories: How to keep a check on these for faster weight loss Did you know you can burn calories while sleeping? Calorie-burning is what causes weight loss. How much should…
Vitamin b12
Vitamin B12 Test Vitamin b12 is an essential nutrient required for healthy functioning of the nervous system and also development of…
Female Masturbation: Tips on how to turn up the heat during a solo mission As a female, do you find yourself constantly wondering as to what is the best way to please…
The science behind daith piercing: Can it really cure migraine? Since the ear has several pressure points, it is believed that daith piercing activates the vagus nerve and…
Atkins diet weight loss
Atkins Diet: The right steps to carb control that can help you lose those pounds fast The Atkins diet is a high fat, low-carb diet with proven weight loss benefits that is flexible enough…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
Astaxanthin: Why experts believe it could be 550x more potent than vitamin E! What is astaxanthin and why is this new supplement on the block touted as the most powerful antioxidant…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
Stye : The best natural home remedies to ease the pain Styes developing inside the eyelid tend to be more painful whereas external styes are less painful and ooze…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
Lectin: The common link of proteins between peas and people Lectins are a type of protein that are found majorly in legumes. Most people are find it easy…
Milk Thistle skin
Milk Thistle: Find possible cures for fatal diseases in these purple blooms Milk thistle is well-known for treating liver conditions. However, did you know that it comes with a plethora…
waterchestnut
Water Chestnuts: The tastiest ways to include this healthy tuber in your diet Water chestnut is not a nut after all. It is a tuber (much like the potatoes) growing close…
Salt dangers
Sodium chloride: The wonders and dangers of the simple table salt Sodium chloride is a salt containing sodium and chlorine ions at a 1:1 ratio. It is edible and…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
Top 6 remedies to treat a razor burn at home Symptoms of razor burn include bumps on the skin, redness, and irritation of the skin. Find easy and…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
boost immunity tips
Step up your defence: 15 proven tips on how to boost your immunity Want to naturally build up a stronger immunity? Tired of frequent colds and runny nose?You will never believe…
Improve sex life
9 best tips from around the world for better sex life How can the pungent-smelling garlic pack in a punch to your libido? How could something as slimy as…
CLA: A breakthrough weight loss supplement with minimal side effects Tried every weight loss supplement in the market with no substantial gain? Why not try CLA supplements, derived…
autoimmune diseases facts
Autoimmune Diseases: Find out if your body is attacking you right now Did you know your body can harm itself? What are autoimmune diseases and why does it harm some…
How accurate is the hair follicle drug test? Hair follicle drug test is one of the best ways to identify drug use in professional circles. But…
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a lack of scientific…
Vitamin K2: 8 reasons why you need this bone-building & cancer-fighting nutrient Vitamin K2 is claimed to be essential for your bone health, for reducing the risk of cancer, and…
vital organ diseases
Common diseases that could cripple your vital organs Brain, heart, kidney, lungs, and liver - these vital organs are indeed vital for your survival. However, these…
erectile dysfunction treatment
Erectile Dysfunction: Effective tips to help you get back on charge Erectile dysfunction is a common male sexual dysfunction. Don't stress out. Just follow these amazing tips to get…
kefir bottle
Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy white grains can…
maltodextrin sugar
Maltodextrin: What are the hidden health benefits of this food additive? Maltodextrin is one of the few food additives that has been relatively deemed safe. Many experts now have…
Vitamin D foods: Know what to eat for stronger bones and a cancer-free body Foods with vitamin D can actuallly transform your health. Observe fewer body aches, high energy, stronger brains, and…
Orgasms: How to perfect the art of achieving intense bursts of pleasure (every time!) Orgasms are dependent not just on the sexual activity but on your partner as well. What you must…
liver detox facts
7 liver detox facts and why ignoring these could kill you! Are you taking care of this organ that handles over 500 different vital functions in your body? Your…
TBHQ: A carcinogen lingering in your child’s favorite snacks TBHQ - Why you should shun the practice of eating instant noodles or microwave popcorn to get rid…
Silicon Dioxide: How can a component of sand be essential to your wellbeing? Silicon is one of the most abundant elements in the nature. Find out how silicon dioxide can prove…
Hydroquinone: Is it the best topical treatment for hyperpigmentation? Darkening of the skin due to high melanin levels is called hyperpigmentation.  Hydroquinone interferes with melanin production thus treating…
Piaget stages: Do they accurately describe the way the human brain develops?  A common assumption was that children are less competent thinkers as compared to adults, but this was refuted…
What is the eustachian tube and how does it help you maintain body balance? Pressure equalization, mucus drainage and protecting the middle ear from bacteria and viruses are the three important functions…
about mediterranean diet
Why you should be adopting a Mediterranean style of diet today Ever wondered why the Mediterranean diet is so healthy? One simple solution to lowering risk of several deadliest…
Tamarind: The top health benefits of this staple Asian ingredient Did you know this sweet and sour pulpy fruit does more than just add a tangy flavor to…
lifestyle diseases
The Big 5 lifestyle diseases: How your everyday living might be killing you You'd be shocked to know how unhealthy and potentially fatal your everyday routine could be. Has the modern…
eating myths debunked
8 ‘healthy eating’ myths you believed until now Is a zero-carb diet really healthy for you? Are organic products worth their cost? Did you know how…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
yoga health benefits
How to practice yoga for astounding health benefits Can a 5000-year-old system be the ultimate body healer? Did you know yoga can make you smarter and…
occupational hazards types
Occupational Hazards: How to vouch for your health at your workplace Occupational hazards affect millions worldwide. Chemical spills, faulty wires, deadly pathogen, and work-stress can happen anytime. Follow these…
Fluoride: An indispensible mineral or a potential toxin ? Fluoride, the main ingredient of toothpaste, has shown a great potential as a cleanser. However, how much fluoride…
Spirulina: Battle diabetes and cholesterol with this blue-green algae Spirulina, a species of salt water algae, has now become a billion dollar industry. How you can use…
low carb diet meal
Low carb diet : Go high on fats and low on carbs for a leaner body! Did you know that sugar is the new fat? Going low on carbs and high on fats &…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
Trisodium Phosphate: How a paint thinner made its way into your breakfast Ever thought how toxic chemicals find their way into our foods? How can they harm our body? And…
How seitan proved to be a blessing in disguise for vegans worldwide Can only meat-eaters enjoy delicious juicy steaks and burgers? With seitan, the best meat substitute available today,even vegans…
Electric toothbrush vs manual toothbrush: Who wins the dental war? Manual brushes are ideal for kids as it is important to start slowly unlike the electric brushes which…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
cancer facts
8 hard-hitting truths no one tells you about cancer Did you know that 1.5 million new cases of cancer are reported every year? Can second-hand smoking kill…
MANUKA HONEY child
Manuka Honey Manuka honey is a specific type of honey produced by honey bees that collect nectar from the flowers…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…
Anhedonia: Does the chronic inability to feel joy affect you too? How often do you feel dragged down by an invisible force? Do you feel an inexplicable emotional numbness…
Love tea, hate tannins? Rooibos tea is just what you need The market is brimming with a multitude of herbal teas. But what makes rooibos tea (or red bush)…
The real reason why you shouldn’t be eating ramen noodles Instant ramen noodles might be your go-to snack for your hunger pangs. But with each spoonful you are…
Aloe Vera: The amazing things you can do with this antioxidant-rich gel Aloe vera, a sticky gel-like substance obtained from a cactus-like succulent plant, holds within it the potential to…
How do neutrophils protect you from fatal bacterial attacks? During an infection, certain enzymes alert the mature neutrophils.  Neutrophils then travel through the bloodstream to the affected…
RHABDOMYOLYSIS muscle cramps
The hidden dangers of magnesium deficiency and how you can prevent it Magnesium is an essential mineral for the body.Its deficiency can cause harm to your vital organs. Find out…
Quinine: How gin and tonic came to be known as a potent health elixir The discovery of quinine-containing tree bark is sometimes considered the most serendipitous medical discovery of the 17th century.
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
tips for perfect sleep
Stop hitting the snooze button: 8 proven steps to perfect sleep Are you tired of not getting enough sleep? All your efforts for a sound sleep going in vain?…
Amaranth: Why is this native Peruvian grain called the “crop of the future”? Full of healthy high proteins and gluten-free, the grain, Amaranth, the tasty and ancient pseudo cereal from Peru,…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
Garlic health benefits cloves
Garlic: Nature’s white pill as an effective home remedy What are the secrets hidden in these tiny white pills? Find out the immense health benefits of using…
green poop causes
Green poop : What are the reasons and how can you correct it Ever sneak a peek down the toilet only to shockingly find green poop? Why does our poop turn…
Jackfruit: Slice your way into higher immunity, better digestion, & more… Native to the South East Asia, the jackfruit is a fruit brimming with thousands of health benefits. Discover…
Aphrodisiacs
Aphrodisiacs: These are the best foods to get you in the right mood While wine and chocolates have forever been associated with romance, there are several other aphrodisiac foods that can…
These are the top foods to increase your hemoglobin count It is important to add iron-rich foods into your diet in order to increase hemoglobin. Deficiency of hemoglobin could…
Is this is the real life? Is this just fantasy? – Decoding the myths of lucid dreaming Lucid dreaming or dreaming with a state of awareness has often intrigued the minds of experts worldwide. Do…
lose pregnancy weight
5 most effective ways you can lose those pregnancy pounds! Are you looking for ways to get back into shape? Scared of crash diets? Don't let your post-pregnancy…
understanding addiction
Addiction explained: An obsession that could cost you your life Is addiction a behavioral disorder? Or is it a chronic disease? How does addiction cause chemical and structural…
lgbtqia
LGTBQIA : Important pointers for a safe and healthy sex life In the USA alone, the LGBTQIA community accounts for 11 million people. Let us understand what does this…
Cordyceps: How the Caterpillar fungus works as a proven cancer-shield Strange as it may sound, but cordyceps or "caterpillar fungus", a fungus variety native to the Himalayas may…
Pescatarian Diet 101: What are the inherent health advantages of this diet? People opt to become a pescatarian in order to enrich their bodies with the essential health benefits that…
10 reasons why you should up your selenium intake Selenium, though a trace mineral, is very much integral to your health. Find out how much selenium intake…
Lauric Acid: 8 health benefits you can derive from coconuts Appropriate use of saturated fats containing lauric acid can provide you numerous health benefits. This is the main…
nature health benefits
Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature You have no idea what sitting in a closed room does to your body and mind.Can a stroll…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…