Kidney Infection, Acute (Pyelonephritis, Acute)

General Illness Information

Medical Term:
Kidney Infection, Acute (Pyelonephritis, acute)

Common Name: None Specified

Description: Pyelonephritis is a bacterial infection of the kidney. It can be serious because of the important function of the kidneys and because the infection may enter the bloodstream. In women who are pregnant it may cause premature labor.

Kidney infections are much more common in women than men.

Causes: Most kidney infections result from lower urinary tract infections, usually bladder infections. Bacteria can travel from the vagina or anus into the urethra and bladder. Because of the location and size of their urethra, women are more prone to have bladder infections than men. In both men and women, lower urinary tract infections may spread to the kidneys, causing pyelonephritis.

Congenital abnormalities of the genito-urinary system and also kidney stones can predispose people to get pyelonephritis.

Prevention: For females:

  • After bowel movements, always wipe from the vaginal area toward the rectum (front to back).
  • Urinate within 15 minutes after sexual intercourse.
  • Don’t hold urine; when you have the urge to void, do so.
  • Increase fluid intake.
  • Avoid bubble baths.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Fever.
  • Burning, frequent urination.
  • Cloudy urine or blood in the urine.
  • Abdominal pain; nausea and vomiting.
  • Back pain.
  • Marked fatigue.
  • Loss of appetite

Risk Factors

  • Chronic urinary-bladder infection or tumor.
  • Diabetes mellitus.
  • Paralysis from spinal-cord injury or tumor.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Immunocompromised state, e.g. HIV, patients on immunosuppressive medications.

Diagnosis & Treatment

For diagnosis, urinalysis and urine culture; and blood tests are done (in complicated cases); ultrasounds and intravenous pyelogram (IVP) (method of studying the kidneys and urinary tract by injecting a medication into the bloodstream that X-rays can detect).

General Measures:

  • Treatment centers on antibiotic therapy.
  • Avoid long periods without urinating (such as on a trip).
  • Drink plenty of fluids.


  • Oral antibiotics. Take all the antibiotics prescribed, even if symptoms disappear. Requires at least one week of antibiotics
  • Hospitalization and intravenous antibiotic treatment for severe infections.
  • Urinary analgesics to relieve pain.


Rest in bed until any fever and discomfort subside.


No special diet. Drink at least 2 quarts of liquid daily; include cranberry juice or vitamin C to acidify the urine.

Possible Complications:

Chronic kidney infection.


Usually curable with treatment. Make a return doctor visit to assure complete cure.


‘Nothing Specified’.

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