Pyelonephritis is a serious bacterial infection of the kidney that can be acute or chronic. One of the most common renal diseases, acute pyelonephritis is a sudden inflammation caused by bacteria. It primarily affects the interstitial area and the renal pelvis or, less often, the renal tubules. Chronic pyelonephritis is persistent kidney inflammation that can scar the kidneys and may lead to chronic renal failure. This disease is most common in patients who are predisposed to recurrent acute pyelonephritis, such as those with urinary obstructions or vesicoureteral reflux.
Alternative Names of Pyelonephritis are: Kidney Infection.
Complications of Pyelonephritis
If left untreated, a kidney infection can lead to potentially serious complications, such as:
Causes of Pyelonephritis
Kidney infection typically occurs when bacteria enter your urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply. Bacteria from an infection elsewhere in your body also can spread through your bloodstream to your kidneys. Kidney infection is unusual through this route, but it can occur in some circumstances — for instance, when a foreign body, such as an artificial joint or heart valve, gets infected. Rarely, kidney infection results after kidney surgery.
Signs & Symptoms of Pyelonephritis
Signs and symptoms of a Pyelonephritis may include:
Diagnosis of Pyelonephritis
Your doctor may suspect you have a kidney infection based on your signs and symptoms, such as fever and upper back pain. If your doctor suspects you have kidney infection, he or she will likely ask for a urine sample to determine whether bacteria, blood or pus is in your urine.
Treatments of Pyelonephritis
Antibiotics for kidney infections
Antibiotics are the first line of treatment for kidney infections. Which drugs you use and for how long depends on your health condition and the bacteria found in your urine tests. Usually, the signs and symptoms of a kidney infection begin to clear up within a few days of treatment. But you may need to continue antibiotics for a week or longer. Take the entire course of antibiotics recommended by your doctor to ensure that the infection is completely eliminated.
Hospitalization for severe kidney infections
For a severe kidney infection, your doctor may admit you to the hospital. Treatment in the hospital may include antibiotics that you receive through a vein in your arm (intravenously). How long you'll stay in the hospital depends on the severity of your condition.
Treatment for recurrent kidney infections
When kidney infections recur frequently or an infection becomes chronic; your doctor will likely recommend that you seek medical care from a specialist who can identify underlying and potentially treatable causes.
Recurrent kidney infections may result from an underlying medical problem, such as a structural abnormality. Your doctor may refer you to a kidney specialist (nephrologist) or urinary surgeon (urologist) for an evaluation to determine if urologic abnormalities may be causing your infections. A structural abnormality may need to be surgically repaired.
Prevention of Pyelonephritis
Reduce your risk of kidney infection by taking steps to prevent urinary tract infections. Women, in particular, may reduce their risk of urinary tract infections if they:
When to seek Medical Advice
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you. Also make an appointment if you're being treated for a urinary tract infection, but your signs and symptoms aren't improving. Severe kidney infection can lead to life-threatening complications. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience typical kidney infection symptoms combined with bloody urine or nausea and vomiting.