Kidney infection (pyelonephritis) is a serious form of urinary tract infection (UTI) originating from the urethra or bladder and travels into the kidneys. It is important to know the warning signs of the infection and seek medical care before complications. UTI can lead to serious health problems if left untreated.
Your kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located in the right and left side in the posterior part of your abdominal cavity, below your rib cage. Each is equipped with an excretory canal called ureter, which descends vertically in your region retroperitoneal (anatomical space behind your abdominal cavity), then in the pelvis to go into your bladder. The roles of the kidneys are important in your body; they are responsible for many vital functions including secreting urine.
However, they may be affected by many disorders such as malformations (ectopic Kidney, congenital hydronephrosis, Horseshoe kidney, etc.) or infection.
Kidney infection, also called Pyelonephritis, is a bacterial infection of the renal pelvis (canal into which urine is discharged before passing into the ureter) or the interstitial tissue of a kidney, or rarely both. This infection can be acute or chronic:
Acute kidney infection – this medical condition is due to a bacterial infection causing sudden inflammation of the pelvis (pyelitis) and the functional tissue of the kidney (nephrons). Acute pyelonephritis is a type of urinary tract infection caused by bacteria originating from the bladder. Bacterial species most commonly responsible for this disorder are enterobacteria family: scherichia coli, proteus mirabilis, and klebsiella pneumonia.
Chronic kidney infection – this is a serious form of urinary tract infection, which unlike acute pyelonephritis, can affect both kidneys, and lead to kidney failure. It is due to abnormalities or recurrent bacterial infection in the urinary tract. Sometimes, it can be the result of a Vesicoureteral reflux (VUR), abnormal flow of urine from the bladder back into the ureters
Kidney Infection Causes and Risk Factors
Kidney infection is usually caused by overgrowth of bacteria (Escherichia coli for example) in the urinary tract. It can be due to complications of certain diseases, such as urolithiasis (presence of stones in the kidney, bladder, and/or urethra). Although rare, certain congenital malformations of the urinary tract can lead to kidney infection. Congenital diseases known to be responsible for causing the infection are hydronephrosis (distention and dilation of the renal pelvis) or Vesicoureteral reflux (VUR). It is also suggested that chronic constipation can contribute in the development of kidney infection.
There is a rare form of kidney infection called idiopathic pyelonephritis. The causes of this condition are unknown to scientists.
Kidney Infection Symptoms
First, your may experience mictional disorders similar to those of cystitis:
- Urine retention (ischuria)
- Burning or Painful sensation during urination (dysuria)
- Frequent nighttime urination (nocturia)
- Frequent daytime urination (pollakiuria)
- Discoloration of urine with a strong odor (cloudy urine)
- Presence of pus or blood in your urine (hematuria)
Then the disease presents more serious signs:
- Shaking chills
- Exhaustion or general fatigue
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pain in the joints and muscles,
- Moderate fever of 39 to 40 ° C associated with night sweats
Infants may experience:
- Decreased or loss appetite
- Bed-wetting (enuresis)
How kidney infection is diagnosed?
The diagnosis is based at first on a physical exam followed by clinical exams:
Physical examination – palpation can reveal sensitivity, which may indicate kidney inflammation.
Urine test – if the infection is caused by bacteria, a bacteriological examination of urine can be sufficient to detect and isolate the bacteria responsible for the infection.
Other exams – In cases where the infection is related to urolithiasis or anatomical abnormalities, ultrasonography, intravenous urography, and renal scan are done to confirm the diagnosis.
Kidney Infection Treatment
Acute kidney infection can be managed by antibiotics taken orally for a few days. The treatment of chronic infection consists mainly of intravenous or intramuscularly antibiotherapy for 2 or 3 weeks. The duration of the treatment depends greatly on the severity of the symptoms and the type of bacteria causing the infection. If your infection is less severe, in two or three days, your body temperature should become normal, pain should disappear, and urine should regain its normal pale yellow color.
In case of anatomical defect of the urinary tract, surgical treatment may be necessary to correct the anomaly. In addition, if the ureter is blocked by stones, surgery may be necessary to relieve the obstruction.
Kidney Infection Prevention
The recurrences are common. The prevention is based on the treatment of lower urinary tract infections (cystitis) and all preventive measures:
- Drink plenty of fluids to help your body get rid of the bacteria
- Drink lot of cranberry juice
- If possible, urinate immediately after sexual intercourse
- Avoid holding back when you feel the need to urinate
- Taking a shower instead of tub bath
- After bowel movement or urinating, wiping from front to back (women)
- Practice a good vaginal hygiene
- Avoid using feminine products in your genital area.