Skip to content

Information and Resources

Kidney Infections: Symptoms and Treatments

Font Size
A
A
A

Most urinary tract infections (UTIs) involve only the bladder and urethra (the lower urinary system). Pyelonephritis results when a UTI progresses to involve the upper urinary system (the kidneys and ureters).

The kidneys filter the blood to produce urine. Two tubes called the ureters carry urine from the kidneys down to the bladder. Urine travels from the bladder out of the body through the urethra.

Recommended Related to

Urethritis

Urethritis is inflammation of the urethra. That's the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body. Pain with urination is the main symptom of urethritis. Urethritis is commonly due to infection by bacteria. It can typically be cured with antibiotics.

Read the Urethritis article > >

Most cases of pyelonephritis are complications of common bladder infections. Bacteria enter the body from the skin around the urethra. They then travel up the urethra to the bladder.

Sometimes, bacteria escape the bladder and urethra, traveling up the ureters to one or both kidneys. 

Pyelonephritis is a potentially serious kidney infection that can spread to the blood, causing severe illness. Fortunately, pyelonephritis is almost always curable with antibiotics.

The urethra is much shorter in women than in men, which is one reason why women are more vulnerable to UTIs and pyelonephritis.

Symptoms of Pyelonephritis

At least half of women have experienced the discomfort with urination caused by a urinary tract infection: painful, urgent, or frequent urination.

Pyelonephritis may start with similar symptoms. However, once the infection has spread to the kidney, signs of more severe illness usually result. They include:

  • Back pain or flank pain
  • Fever (usually present) or chills
  • Feeling sick (malaise)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion (especially in the elderly)

Pyelonephritis may cause noticeable changes in the urine, such as:

  • Blood in the urine (hematuria)
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  • Pain when urinating
  • Increased frequency or urgency of urination

 

1 | 2 | 3

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

feet
Solutions for 19 types.
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
pregnancy test and calendar
Helping you get pregnant.
man rubbing painful knee
A visual guide.
lone star tick
How to identify that bite.
woman standing behind curtains
How it affects you.
brain scan with soda
Tips to avoid complications.
row of colored highlighter pens
Tips for living better.
human lungs
Symptoms, causes, treatments.
woman dreaming
What Do Your Dreams Say About You?
two male hands
Test your knowledge.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.