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Peace of Mind,
in 3 easy steps...

Step 1:
Fill out questionnaire

Step 2:
Video-call with a doctor

Step 3:
Get prescriptions to your pharmacy

Peace of Mind,
in 3 easy steps…
Step 1:
Fill out questionnaire
Step 2:
Video-call with a doctor
Step 3:
Get prescriptions to your pharmacy

Kidney Infection (Pyelonephritis)

Pyelonephritis refers to an infection in the kidneys. It is usually treated with antibiotics and painkillers. However, it could sometimes become a serious illness. Complications include severe kidney damage or a spread of the infection in the body (sepsis). Kidney infection symptoms and treatment are as follows.

Dr. Jeff Hirschberg
Hi! I’m Dr. Jeff Hirschberg

So you have a Kidney Infection, we are sorry to hear that. Let’s schedule a Video-Call so we can get you the medicine you need.

Causes of a kidney infection

Causes of a kidney infection

Usually, kidney infections are due to a bladder infection. Also known as cystitis. This is when the bacteria travel up the ureter from the bladder to the kidney. However, not all kidney infections are due to bladder infections. Kidney stones or other abnormalities of the kidney can also cause a kidney infection.

Kidney infection usually impacts only one kidney. It can occur at any age. It is much more common in women since bladder infections are more common in women. This is due to the proximity of the urethra to the anus. As a result, it easier for the bacteria to get from the bowels to the bladder in women. In addition, children, elderly people, and pregnant women are more likely to suffer from kidney infections. Kidney infection symptoms and treatment are detailed below.

What are the symptoms of a kidney infection?

Symptoms of a kidney infection progress over a few hours and may include:

  • Pain in a loin or flank
  • High fever along with shivering
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Passing blood in the urine
  • Pain while urinating
  • Frequent urination

All symptoms may not develop. Some people with a kidney infection may just feel unwell or confused. This is why a urine test is often necessary to confirm if a person appears confused or is unwell.

How it Works

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Do I need any tests?

The first and simplest test done is a dipstick urine test that involves testing a sample of your urine for bacteria that indicates kidney infection. If bacteria is found the sample will be sent for further analysis to determine which exact bacteria is causing the infection, which will allow the doctor to prescribe the correct antibiotic. This helps with kidney infection symptoms and treatment.

A urine test may be the only test that is required, however if you suffer from kidney stones or some other kidney abnormality is suspected, you may be required to take an ultrasound scan.

What is the treatment for a kidney infection?

  • Antibiotics are usually prescribed immediately once a kidney infection is suspected. However, each bacteria responds to a different antibiotic with some bacteria being resistant to certain antibiotics, due to which a change in antibiotics may be needed based on the urine test.  Usually Ciprofloxacin, co-amoxiclav or trimethoprim are prescribed for a duration of 7-14 days.
  • Paracetamol is usually prescribed for pain relief and for reducing fever. For severe pain stronger painkillers may be needed, however Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen are not recommended for kidney infections as they could hamper the working of the kidneys.
  • Consume lots of fluids to prevent dehydration

In most cases the treatment can be taken at home, and you should contact a doctor if the symptoms do not improve after 24 hours. You may need to be admitted to a hospital if:

  • You are unable to take in any fluids due to extreme vomiting
  • The infection is severe
  • Symptoms do not settle within 24 hours after starting antibiotics
  • You are pregnant
  • You have other medical complications including an underlying kidney problem or diabetes

What are the possible complications?

Most people make a complete recovery with just antibiotics, however there can be some complications in a small number of cases. These include:

  • Sepsis due to the bacteria entering the bloodstream
  • Pregnant women could experience an early birth or have babies with lower birth weight
  • Kidney abscess
  • Permanent damage to kidney tissues

These complications are more likely if the infection is severe, or in people who already had some problems with their kidneys. People who have their immune system compromised due to chemotherapy or AIDS are also prone to developing complications. Pregnant women, elderly people and those with poorly controlled diabetes could also be at risk of developing complications.

An extremely rare complication is emphysematous pyelonephritis in which the kidney tissues are rapidly destroyed. This complication seems mostly to affect people who have poorly controlled diabetes.

Can kidney infection be prevented?

  • Treat constipation promptly
  • Seek medical advice for kidney stones
  • Ensure that your urine is tested regularly for infection during pregnancy

 

 

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