Pyelonephritis

Kidney infection

It is usually one kidney that develops the infection and it is more common in women than men

About kidney infections

Most kidney infections develop as a complication of cystitis (bladder infection). Bacteria causing cystitis can travel up to infect a kidney. The bacteria are usually those which live in the bowel. Some kidney infections develop without a bladder infection. This is due to other problems in the kidney such as stones or an abnormality of the kidney.

Need to know

  • Symptoms of pyelonephritis icon plus

    Symptoms of pyelonephritis may include:

    • pain in the side of the abdomen or back area over the kidney (loin pain)
    • high temperature (38 degrees centigrade), with shivering
    • feeling nauseous, vomiting and/or diarrhoea
    • blood in your urine (haematuria)
    • pain on urinating and frequency
    • urinary tract infections
    • urinary frequency or urgency
  • Screening and diagnosis icon plus

    Your consultant or GP will ask about your symptoms and recent medical history. They will carry out a urine test to see if you have a urinary tract infection (UTI). If you are a man with a confirmed infection, your consultant will refer you straight to our urology department for further investigation. Urological investigations include:

    • MRI scan
    • contrast-enhanced computer demography (CECT)

    If your consultant is concerned that you may have an obstruction (such as a kidney stone that is stuck in the ureter) or a structural abnormality in your urinary system, other tests may be ordered, such as a CT (computed tomography) scan or ultrasound.

  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    Treatment options include:

    • increasing fluid intake to prevent dehydration
    • antibiotics, to clear the infection
    • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers*

    *These will not be recommended unless absolutely necessary as they can cause an increased risk of problems with the kidney function during a kidney infection.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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