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Kidney infection is also known as Pyelonephritis

kidney infection

A kidney infection, also known as Pyelonephritis, is an inflammation of one or both kidneys. This inflammation can be caused by a bacterial infection that originates from a bladder infection. When this is the case, bacteria causing the bladder infection “ascends” into the kidney and results in an infection.

Kidney infection risk factors

  • Recurrent bladder infections.
  • Kidney stones.
  • Being female – Women are more disposed to having kidney infections.
  • Structural abnormalities of the kidneys and urinary tract (such as vesicoureteral reflex).
  • Neurogenic bladder (a condition where the bladder does not eliminate urine properly).
  • Urinary blockage associated with and enlarged prostate (benign prostate hyperplasia) in men.
  • Catheter use.

Symptoms of a Kidney Infection

A kidney infection can develop quickly, become severe, but only last a short period of time (acute); or it can be ongoing and chronic. Individuals with a kidney infection can experience:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Frequent urination
  • A burning sensation while urinating
  • Pus in the blood
  • Urine that appears cloudy
  • Urine with a foul odor
  • Nausea
  • Pain while urinating
  • Vomiting
  • Flank or back pain
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria)

Evaluation and Treatment

When a kidney infection is suspected, a urine analysis will be conducted to screen for infection (including urinary tract infection), bacteria, blood, and pus. A urine culture and blood culture can also be used to identify bacteria that is present, and determine which type of antibiotic is recommended for treatment.  Generally, individuals diagnosed with a kidney infection may require IV antibiotics and subsequent oral antibiotics for approximately 10-14 days. This will depend on the origin of the infection and severity.

When clinical improvement is delayed, or in individuals with repeated bouts of pyelonephritis, an imaging study may be obtained (CT scan, ultrasound, abdominal x-ray) to rule out any structural abnormality of the urinary tract. If a structural abnormality is identified, surgery may be indicated to correct the problem to reduce/prevent repeated infections.

If you are experiencing symptoms that are associated with a kidney infection, or if you suffer with recurrent kidney infections, contact Urology Austin to schedule an appointment with one of our urologists.