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Pyelonephritis (Kidney Infection) in Adults


What is pyelonephritis?

Pyelonephritis is a kidney infection, usually from bacteria that have spread from the bladder.

What causes pyelonephritis?

Possible causes of kidney infection include the following:

  • infections in the bladder
  • use of a catheter to drain urine from the bladder
  • use of a cystoscope to examine the bladder and urethra
  • surgery on the urinary tract
  • conditions such as prostate enlargement and kidney stones that prevent the efficient flow of urine from the bladder
  • defects or abnormalities in the urinary tract that block the flow of urine

What are the symptoms of pyelonephritis?

Symptoms include the following:

  • back, side, and groin pain
  • urgent, frequent urination
  • pain or burning during urination
  • fever
  • nausea and vomiting
  • pus and blood in the urine

What are the complications of pyelonephritis?

Severe or recurrent infections may cause permanent kidney damage and lead to chronic kidney disease.
In rare cases, infection in the kidney may spread to the bloodstream. Infection of the bloodstream is a serious condition called sepsis. Acute renal failure, a temporary condition in which the kidneys stop working, can also result.

How is pyelonephritis diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made with a urine test to identify bacteria and formations of white blood cells, called casts, shaped like tubes in the kidneys. If an infection cannot be easily cured, x rays might be done to look for abnormalities in the kidneys, ureters, and bladder.

How is pyelonephritis treated?

A kidney infection is treated with an appropriate antibiotic taken for several weeks. Anatomic abnormalities may need to be surgically treated.
Severely ill patients with kidney infections may be hospitalized until they can take fluids and needed drugs on their own."

Various drugs are available to relieve the pain of a kidney infection. A heating pad may also help.
The U.S. Government does not endorse or favor any specific commercial product or company. Trade, proprietary, or company names appearing in this document are used only because they are considered necessary in the context of the information provided. If a product is not mentioned, the omission does not mean or imply that the product is unsatisfactory.

The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse collects resource information on kidney and urologic diseases for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Reference Collection. This database provides titles, abstracts, and availability information for health information and health education resources. The NIDDK Reference Collection is a service of the National Institutes of Health.

To provide you with the most up-to-date resources, information specialists at the clearinghouse created an automatic search of the NIDDK Reference Collection. To obtain this information, you may view the results of the automatic search on Pyelonephritis.

If you wish to perform your own search of the database, you may access and search the NIDDK Reference Collection database online.

This publication may contain information about medications used to treat a health condition. When this publication was prepared, the NIDDK included the most current information available.

Occasionally, new information about medication is released. For updates or for questions about any medications, please contact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration at 1–888–INFO–FDA (463–6332), a toll-free call, or visit their website at www.fda.gov. Consult your doctor for more information.


National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse

3 Information Way
Bethesda, MD 20892–3580
Phone: 1–800–891–5390
Fax: 703–738–4929
Email: nkudic@info.niddk.nih.gov
Internet: www.kidney.niddk.nih.gov/

The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC) is a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The NIDDK is part of the National Institutes of Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Established in 1987, the Clearinghouse provides information about diseases of the kidneys and urologic system to people with kidney and urologic disorders and to their families, health care professionals, and the public. The NKUDIC answers inquiries, develops and distributes publications, and works closely with professional and patient organizations and Government agencies to coordinate resources about kidney and urologic diseases.

Publications produced by the Clearinghouse are carefully reviewed by both NIDDK scientists and outside experts.

This publication is not copyrighted. The Clearinghouse encourages users of this publication to duplicate and distribute as many copies as desired.


NIH Publication No. 07–4628
June 2007

 

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