Pyelonephritis is the infection of kidney, mostly followed by a urinary tract infection which makes its way from urethra towards kidney. Sudden and severe kidney infection is known as acute pyelonephritis and repeated and persistent attacks may lead to chronic pyelonephritis.
Pyelonephritis is common in women as they have a smaller urethra hence more prone to infection.
Cause of the infection is mostly a bacteria known as E.coli. Bacteria enter the body through the urethra and begin to multiply and spread up to the bladder. From there, the bacteria travel through the ureters to the kidneys and causes infection.
Symptoms – Symptoms usually appear within 2 days of infection
- Fever greater than 102 degrees F
- Flank pain, pain in abdomen
- Burning during urination
- Cloudy urine
- Pus/blood in urine
- Increased frequency of urination
- Vomiting, nausea, fatigue
Any issue interrupting with normal flow of urine, can lead to greater risk of kidney infection.
- Women have shorter urethra hence are more prone to urinary tract infection hence pyelonephritis
- older adults
- anyone with chronic kidney stones or other kidney or bladder conditions
- people with suppressed immune systems, such as people with diabetes, HIV/AIDS, or cancer
- people with vesicoureteral reflux (a condition where small amounts of urine back up from the bladder into the ureters and kidneys)
- Urinary tract surgery
A thorough physical examination will be done by the physician. He will order urine routine and culture test to look for infection in urine and type of bacteria causing it. An ultrasound abdomen may be ordered too. For people who don’t respond to treatment within 72 hours, a CT scan (with or without injectable dye) may be ordered.
Antibiotics are the first course of action against acute pyelonephritis. However, the type of antibiotic your doctor chooses depends on whether or not the bacteria can be identified. If not, a broad-spectrum antibiotic is used. The antibiotics advised are levofloxacin, ciprofloxacin, co trimoxazole and augmentin.
In few cases hospital admission may be required. Antibiotic may be given intravenously. Length of stay depends on severity and response to treatment. While in the hospital, monitoring of your blood is done to track the infection
In cases of recurrent kidney infections, surgery may be necessary to remove any obstructions or to correct any structural problems in the kidneys.
Acute pyelonephritis can lead to chronic kidney disease and kidney may be permanently damaged. Also infection can lead to abscess and finally infection reaching bloodstream known as sepsis, a life threatening condition, which requires prompt treatment.
Follow these tips to prevent urinary tract and kidney infections.
- Drink plenty of fluids to increase urination and remove bacteria from the urethra.
- Urinate after sexual intercourse to help flush out bacteria.
- Always wipe from front to back during cleaning of the area as anal region may have germs which can spread towards the urinary tract.
- Avoid using products that can irritate the urethra, such as douches or sprays.
As soon as the symptoms start, see a physician to confirm the diagnosis and start of treatment at the earliest as untreated kidney infections can lead to serious complications.
Dr Prerna Gaur