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Understand kidney infections, from causes and symptoms to effective treatments.

Kidney Infections: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Have you ever experienced a burning sensation or discomfort during urination? Or perhaps you’ve noticed your urine looking cloudy or containing blood? These could be a sign of kidney infections, also known as pyelonephritis. While it may not seem like a big deal initially, ignoring a kidney infection can lead to severe and potentially life-threatening complications. 

Our kidneys play a vital role in our overall health, acting as the body’s sophisticated filtration system, constantly removing waste and excess fluids from our bloodstream. When these hardworking organs become infected, it can disrupt their ability to function properly, leading to a buildup of toxins and imbalances in our bodies.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the world of kidney infections, exploring their causes, symptoms, and the various treatment options available. We’ll uncover the reasons why some individuals may be more susceptible to these infections and provide valuable insights into preventive measures you can take to safeguard your kidney health.

What is a Kidney Infection (Pyelonephritis)?

A kidney infection, also known as pyelonephritis, is a type of urinary tract infection (UTI) that has spread from the bladder to one or both kidneys. The kidneys are vital, bean-shaped organs that filter waste and excess water from the blood to produce urine. When bacteria, most commonly Escherichia coli (E. coli), reach the kidneys, they can cause inflammation and infection in the renal system.

Unlike bladder infections, which affect the lower urinary tract, a kidney infection is considered an upper urinary tract infection and is more severe. If left untreated, pyelonephritis can cause permanent damage to the kidneys and potentially life-threatening complications, particularly if the infection spreads to the bloodstream (bacteremia).

Kidney infections typically result from an untreated bladder infection, but they can also occur due to a blockage in the urinary tract or from bacteria entering the urethra and travelling upwards. Prompt treatment with antibiotics is crucial to eliminate the infection and prevent further complications. Staying hydrated and addressing any underlying conditions that increase susceptibility are also essential aspects of managing and preventing kidney infections.

Causes of Kidney Infections

There can be various causes for kidney infections including bacterial and virus infestations, In some cases, irregular urinary habits may also lead to kidney infections. Some common causes are:

Bacterial Infections: Kidney infections start in the lower urinary tract, such as the bladder or urethra, and progress to the kidneys.

Escherichia coli (E. coli): Normally found in the gastrointestinal tract, is the primary causative agent for kidney infections.

Klebsiella and Proteus Bacteria: These also play a role in the development of kidney infections.

Viruses origin: The viruses typically originate from various parts of the urinary tract, such as the bladder, ureters, or urethra.

Blockage: Kidney infections can arise due to a blockage in the urinary tract due to kidney stones, an enlarged prostate, or structural issues in the urinary tract.

Risk Factors for Kidney Infections:

Kidney infections can affect anyone, however, certain individuals are more susceptible. People who can be at risk include: 

  • Women are more prone to kidney infections due to their shorter urethra, which allows bacteria easier access to the urinary tract. 
  • Expectant mothers are more likely to face kidney infections. 
  • Individuals with diabetes, and people with low immunity. 
  • HIV-infected, organ transplant people and patients who are on immunosuppressive medications are prone to infections. 
  • People who have nerve or spinal cord damage that affects pain perception, catheter users, and also patients with vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) are prone to kidney infections. 
  • Conditions like kidney stones or an enlarged prostate can obstruct the normal flow of urine, helping bacterial growth. 
  • Sexual intercourse with an infected partner can introduce bacteria into the urinary tract, increasing the risk of infections.

6 Common Symptoms of Kidney Infections

To lead a healthy life, one should learn to recognise infection symptoms of diseases. Therefore it is crucial to know the symptoms of kidney infections for prompt diagnosis and treatment. Here are some common signs and symptoms:

  • Fever and Chills: If you have a sudden onset of fever and chills, it may indicate an active infection.
  • Back or Abdominal Pain: Watch out for persistent pain in the lower back or abdomen, it is a common symptom of kidney infections.
  • Frequent Urination: If you are facing an urgent and frequent need to urinate, it may be a sign of kidney infection.
  • Painful Urination: Urination with a burning sensation or pain during urination is another prevalent symptom.
  • Cloudy or Foul-Smelling Urine: Look out for changes in urine colour or odour that may signal an infection.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: If you are facing nausea and vomiting it may be indicative of infection.
  • Fatigue: Kidney infections create weakness and fatigue.

However, symptoms can vary, and you may not experience all of these signs. It is crucial that if you suspect a kidney infection, seek prompt medical attention to prevent complications.

Kidney Infections Treatments:

Treatments for kidney infections involve a combination of antibiotics, pain management, and supportive care. Some common treatment procedures involve:

Antibiotics: Primarily antibiotics help to eliminate the underlying bacterial infection. Therefore, initiation of antibiotic treatment is crucial. Moreover, antibiotic treatment depends on the type and severity of the infection, pregnancy status, age, and earlier antibiotic reactions. 

Patients may be hospitalised for intravenous antibiotic administration in severe cases. In extreme conditions of structural abnormalities in the urinary tract, surgical intervention may be necessary. Also, patients must complete the entire course of antibiotics to prevent the recurrence of infection.

Pain Management: Kidney specialists may suggest acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to alleviate discomfort and reduce fever. 

Hydration: Taking enough water is essential in supporting kidney function. It is the best cleanser for flushing out bacteria from the urinary tract. Also, fluid intake accelerates recovery and prevents dehydration.

Addressing Underlying Conditions: Urinary tract obstructions have to be managed for effective treatments and to prevent future occurrences.

Why seek Immediate Treatment?

No one should ignore kidney infections as untreated infections can lead to permanent kidney damage. The painful infections often spread to other parts of the body and can even lead to sepsis. This can be life-threatening.  It is not correct to seek temporary solutions like over-the-counter pain relievers. Although, you can get temporary relief by using heating pads.

Recovery and Resumption of Normal Activities:

Kidney infections can be easily treated by antibiotic treatment. Also, patients feel better within a few days. So, individuals can generally resume normal activities, including sexual intercourse. As a precautionary measure, it is better to urinate after sex. Also, it will minimise the risk of reintroducing bacteria into the urinary tract.

How to Prevent Kidney Infections? 

Prevention is always better than cure. Therefore, it is better to adopt some preventive measures to avoid kidney infections. Here are some easy ways to avoid infections:

Maintain Good Hygiene: It is imperative to practise good personal hygiene, especially after using the toilet. Consequently, it helps prevent the spread of bacteria from the anal region to the urethra.

Stay Hydrated:  Drinking water is crucial for maintaining a healthy urinary tract.  It helps to flush out toxins. So, drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Urinate Regularly: Holding in urine for extended periods is a no-no. Also, this will increase the risk of bacterial growth in the urinary tract.

Practice Safe Sex: Make it a practice to apply barrier methods, such as condoms. Consequently, this helps prevent the entry of bacteria into the urinary tract during sexual activity.

Promptly Treat Urinary Tract Infections: Take immediate medical treatment for urinary tract infections. Consequently, it will prevent the infection from spreading to the kidneys.


Kidney infections are no laughing matter, and they demand our full attention and prompt medical care. Neglecting these infections can lead to serious complications, affecting our overall well-being. That’s why it’s so important to understand the causes, risk factors, and preventive measures for kidney infections – knowledge is power when it comes to safeguarding the health of our hardworking urinary tract.

If you or a loved one are experiencing any symptoms that could indicate a kidney infection, such as burning during urination, fever, or back pain, don’t hesitate to seek professional medical advice. At Dispur Polyclinic and Hospitals, our dedicated team of healthcare professionals is committed to providing you with comprehensive, compassionate care.

Our experienced kidney specialists are here to listen to your concerns, thoroughly evaluate your condition, and develop a personalised treatment plan tailored to your unique needs. We understand that dealing with health issues can be overwhelming, which is why we strive to create a welcoming and supportive environment where you can feel at ease.

Don’t let kidney infections take a toll on your quality of life. Take the first step towards better kidney health today by scheduling an appointment with our friendly staff. We’re here to guide you every step of the way, answering your questions and addressing your concerns with care and expertise. Your well-being is our top priority, and we look forward to being a part of your journey to optimal health.

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dispur polyclinic logo

Book a free consultation Now !

Our Helpline no's

(+91) 8822669275
(+91) 7664011111
(+91) 7670007615