Kidney Infection: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options

Kidney infections – also known as pyelonephritis – are a type of urinary tract infection (UTI) that affects one or both of the kidneys. They are most commonly caused by bacteria that has spread from the bladder to the kidneys. Symptoms include fever, lower back pain, nausea, and pain or burning while urinating.

Kidney infections are serious and can be life threatening if left untreated. They can damage the kidneys and, if the infection is severe, can lead to kidney failure. For this reason, it’s important to seek medical attention promptly if you have any symptoms of a kidney infection.

The bacteria that cause kidney infections most commonly come from the bladder or the bowel and spread through the urine. This is why, in some cases, the infection can be prevented by practicing good hygiene. For example, wiping from front to back after using the bathroom, changing underwear regularly, and avoiding tight-fitting clothing can all help.

How Are Kidney Infections Diagnosed?

You can be diagnosed with kidney infection by your doctor based on the symptoms you are experiencing. Your doctor will be able to confirm the diagnosis with a urine test to see what is causing the infection. You may also need a blood test to determine whether you have bacteria in your blood. On this website, you can buy a urine dipstick test for kidney infections. For more information or to order the test, click here.

How Is a Kidney Infection Treated?

Treatment usually involves a course of antibiotics as well as drinking plenty of fluids to help flush out the bacteria. In some cases, hospitalisation may be necessary, and more aggressive treatment may be required.

By recognising the symptoms and seeking help as soon as possible, kidney infections can be treated quickly and effectively. It’s important, however, to take steps to prevent them in the first place. Good hygiene and prompt treatment of any other UTIs can help reduce the risk.

Other preventative measures include drinking plenty of water, urinating frequently, and wiping from front to back after using the toilet. It’s also important to avoid delaying urination if you feel the urge to go, as this can allow bacteria to multiply in the bladder.

For those with recurrent kidney infections, further testing may be necessary to identify any underlying conditions that could be contributing to the problem. Such conditions might include kidney stones or an enlarged prostate, which can both obstruct urine flow and increase the risk of infection.

Overall, taking good care of your urinary tract is key to preventing kidney infections and other UTIs. By staying hydrated, practicing good hygiene, and seeking prompt treatment when needed, you can help keep your kidneys healthy and avoid the discomfort and potential complications of infection.

Photo by Sasun Bughdaryan on Unsplash

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This post was originally published in 2017. It was last updated in June 2023.

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