Kidney infection

Kidney infection is a type of urinary tract infection that infects one or both the kidneys. It is also called as pyelonephritis or renal infection. It usually begins at the urinary bladder or urethra and travels up to kidneys. It can permanently damage the kidneys or the infection causing bacteria can travel into the bloodstream and cause a life-threatening infection. Kidney infection needs immediate medical treatment. Women are more vulnerable to kidney infections compared to males as the urethra in females is short. Kidney infections are usually caused by E. Coli. Kidney infections can occur at any age.

Causes of Kidney Infection

Urinary tract infections are the most common cause of kidney infections. E. coli and Klebsiella are the common bacteria that lead to urinary tract infections. Some conditions (kidney stones, bladder stones, benign prostatic hypertrophy, abdominal or pelvic masses) that reduce urine outflow also lead to kidney infections. Patients with diabetes and weak immune system are more likely to get kidney infections. Males with an enlarged prostate are at high risk of developing kidney infections.

Signs and Symptoms

The kidney infection symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Malaise
  • Back pain, flank pain, and abdominal pain
  • Weakness
  • Frequent and painful urination
  • Traces of blood or pus in urine and cloudy urine
  • Foul-smelling urine

Some of the patients with head and neck cancer may not experience any of the above symptoms, or the symptoms may indicate any other condition other than cancer. Therefore, it is important for you to get checked when you experience these symptoms.


The risk of kidney infection can be prevented by taking steps to prevent urinary tract infections.

  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Urinating frequently
  • Emptying the bladder after sexual intercourse
  • Maintaining toilet hygiene
  • Eating fiber-rich food
  • Avoiding usage of feminine products (deodorant sprays or douches) in the genital area
  • Drinking cranberry juice frequently


If kidney infection is untreated, it can lead to chronic kidney disease, septicemia, and complications in pregnancy.

The kidney infections are diagnosed by following tests:

Physical Examination : A general examination of appearance, vital signs are observed and the doctor presses over the kidneys to check for tenderness.

Urinalysis : A microscopic analysis of urine is carried out to observe the signs of infection. Excessive white blood cells and bacteria in the reports indicate infection.

Urine culture Test: :A urine culture is made to identify the type of bacteria responsible for the cause of infection. This test helps to choose the best antibiotic for the treatment.

Blood culture Test : It helps to determine the level of infection that has spread into the blood stream. If the infection is observed in blood, then the treatment will be vigorous.

Kidney ultrasound :A high-frequency sound waves is directed through the skin to create images of the kidneys and ureters. This helps to identify abscesses, stones, and blockages in the kidneys and ureters.

Computed tomography (CT scan) : Detailed images of abdomen and kidneys are taken using X-rays to diagnose kidney stones.

Voiding Cystourethrogram : is a type of X-ray that is used in the diagnosis of kidney stones.

The treatment for kidney infections is by first line of antibiotics. The duration of the kidney infection treatment and the type of drugs depends on the type of bacteria responsible for infection and the health condition of the patient. The treatment will be continued for few days after the residing of symptoms of infection to ensure that the infection is completely eliminated. Plenty of fluids are recommended to prevent dehydration.

For a severe kidney infection, hospitalization is required. The treatment regimen will be intravenous antibiotics. The treatment depends on the severity of the condition.

Some underlying conditions such as structural abnormality can lead to recurrent kidney infections. Surgery may be suggested based on complete assessment of the abnormality to treat the recurrent kidney infections.