Signs and symptoms of Kidney infection with causes and treatments

Kidney infection signs causes diagnosis and treatment

A kidney is the pea shaped inner organ that removes wastes and extra water from blood. It is part of urinary tract that makes liquid waste and finally removes that waste from blood. A kidney infection is generally referred as pyelonephritis in which a bacteria or virus causes problem in one or both the kidneys and it is type of Urinary Tract Infection.

Our Kidneys main work is to remove liquid wastes and excess water from our body. The kidneys are part of our Urinary tract that makes and removes liquid waste from our body. Let’s discuss our Urinary tract first.

Urinary tract is generally made of following parts

Kidneys: It purifies blood by removing waste from blood.

Ureters: These are thin tubes which carry urine to blood

Bladder: This store urine

Urethra: This tube carries urine from bladder to out of your body

If any one of the above parts of the body tract get infected by germ then you may get a UTI. Generally urinary bladder is the part which gets infected first. It causes pain but it is not usually serious case.

If this infection reaches to ureters you might get a kidney infection. If it is left untreated then kidney infections may cause life threatening problems.

Signs and symptoms of Kidney infection

Signs of Kidney Infection

Blood or pus in your urine

Fever with chills

Loss of Appetite

Pain in lower back, sides or in groin

Weakness or lethargic fatigue

Upsetting stomach


Apart from above symptoms you may even have signs of bladder infection such as

Burning Micturition when you urinate

A constant urge to urinate even with empty bladder

Foul smelling urine

Pain in lower belly

Urinating more than usual

Causes of Urinary Infection

Generally kidney infection begins from bladder and starts spreading to kidneys. Generally an E.coli bacterium is main cause of bladder infection but many other bacteria and viruses are also known to cause kidney or UTI infection. Most rarely Kidney infection gets in through skin, makes way to your blood and travel to kidney. You can get this infection even after kidney surgery but that’s unlikely to happen.

Kidney Infections are more often seen in women since women get more bladder infections than man.

A woman’s urethra is smaller than a man and is nearer to their vagina and anus and therefore it is easier for viruses and bacteria to get into a woman’s urethra and once they get into urethra it is easy to reach bladder from there they spread to kidney. Pregnant women are more prone to get bladder infections because of hormonal changes in mother’s bladder and ureters, therefore slow down the flow of urine.

Any problem in urinary tract that keeps urine flowing can cause chances of kidney infection such as:

Blockage in urinary tract, like kidney stone or enlarged prostate gland.

A Condition that prevent bladder from getting completely empty.

A problem caused due to change in the structure of urinary tract like pinched urethra.

Vesicoureteral reflux, a condition where urine flow backward from bladder towards kidneys.

You are likely to get infected if you have

Nerve damage in bladder

A prostate dysfunction known as prostatitis

You may also have urinary tract infection if you have

A urinary catheter which where a tube goes into bladder through urethra to drain off urine

 A weak immune system, such as type 2 diabetes

Diagnosis of Kidney Infection

After relating your symptoms your doctor will conduct several tests to diagnose UTI which include

Urine analysis to check blood, pus and bacteria in your urine

Urine culture to determine the kind of bacteria in your urine

 Further investigations to check your UTI or kidney infections are

Ultrasound or CT scan: this test is done to look for blockage in your urinary tract. This is done if treatment does not give positive results in 3 days.

Voiding Cystourethrogram (VCUG) this is a type of x-ray to find problems in urethra and bladder. Doctors often suggest these in children having VUR.

Digital rectal exam for men. In this procedure a doctor inserts a lubricated finger into your anus to check for a swollen prostate.

Complications of Kidney Dysfunctions

If you are not getting proper treatment a kidney infection can cause life threatening problems such as

Kidney Damage: Pus formation and its collection as abscess inside Kidney tissues. The infecting bacteria can even spread to other different body organs. If left untreated scars can be formed in kidneys which can lead to high blood pressure, chronic kidney diseases and lastly kidney failure.

Blood Poisoning (Septicemia) when bacteria from a kidney infection get into blood they can spread through your body and directly into organs. Such case is medical emergency and needs treatment immediately.

Severe infection. An infection often referred as emphysematous pyelonephritis may destroy kidney tissues and make toxic gas build up there. It generally happens in people who have diabetes.

Complexity during pregnancy. Women having kidney infections during pregnancy are likely to born premature babies or have a low weight. Women are likely to have more kidney complications.

Kidney infection Treatments

A medical practitioner would generally prescribe antibiotics for a week or two to control bacterial infection in urinary tract. The symptoms generally improve within few days but it is necessary to take full medication to get free from bacterial infection. If you are having severe kidney infection then you need to stay in hospital and get antibiotics intravenously through a needle. If the kidney infection is frequently coming back then there might the problem associated with the structure of the urinary tract. Your doctor might send you to specialist such as a urologist. These types of issues generally require surgical treatments.

Tips to overcome Renal/Kidney associated infections

You can lower the chances of getting a kidney infection by

Drinking a lot of water

Urinate as soon as you feel the urge

Urinate after having intercourse

Wipe from front to back after going to washroom if you are a woman. This prevents infiltration of bacteria to move in urethra.

Avoid using deodorants in genital areas.

Getting treatment of constipation though, constipation is not a symptom of kidney infection but it increases your chances of having bacteria in your urinary tract because it can make your urinary tract difficult to empty your bladder fully.

Conclusion- It is advised to take remedial measures if kidney infection is detected in initial stage of disease and seek help of a urologist if the infection causes severe life threatening complications. Drink a lot of water to remove the germs from the blood and urinary bladder.


Signs and symptoms of Kidney infection with causes and treatments