A kidney infection, also called pyelonephritis, is a type of urinary tract infection (UTI) that often starts in the bladder or urethra and slowly travels up the kidneys. When you have a kidney infection, you need to get immediate medical attention. This is because the infection can cause permanent damage in your kidney’s function as well as bacteria that might travel to your bloodstream which could lead to a more serious medical condition or infection. The main course of treatment for a kidney infection is a round of antibiotics and hospitalization.
Signs of a Kidney Infection
If you’re concerned you have a kidney infection, there are some signs and symptoms to keep an eye out for. These include fever, back or side pain, groin pain, abdominal pain, frequent urination, a persistent urge to urinate, burning sensation while urination, or blood in your urine. If you have any combination of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor immediately so you can begin on a round of antibiotics for the infection. You should visit the emergency room if you have blood in your urine, nausea or vomiting as a result of the kidney infection.
Causes of Kidney Infections
Kidney infections occur when there is extra bacteria entering through your urinary tract through your urethra; when the bacteria multiplies, it can lead to a kidney infection. There are some situations where the risk for getting a kidney infection is higher. For example, women have a higher risk in general of getting a kidney infection than men. This is because the women’s urethra is shorter and therefore more bacteria can form. Anyone with an obstruction in the urinary tract is also susceptible to a kidney infection. If you have a weakened immune system such as from HIV or diabetes, you are also at a high risk. Other risks include prolonged use of a urinary catheter, damage to nerves around the bladder, or a condition that causes your urine to flow in the opposite direction.
Diagnosing Kidney Infection
In most cases, your doctor will be able to go by your signs and symptoms to diagnose a kidney infection. They will commonly look for a fever or upper back pain first to determine whether or not the signs you’re experiencing are from a kidney infection. To treat a kidney infection, a round of antibiotics will be the first and primary course of treatment. If the antibiotics don’t get rid of the associated symptoms, you will need to have additional tests and x-rays performed.