Kidney Infection in Adults

Last Editorial Review: 12/30/2008

What is a kidney infection (pyelonephritis)?

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

What causes a kidney infection?

Possible causes of 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

What are the symptoms of kidney infection?

Symptoms and signs include:

  • back, side, and groin pain;
  • pain or burning during urination;

How is kidney infection 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.

What is the treatment for kidney infection?

A kidney infection is treated with an appropriate antibiotic, and abnormalities may need to be surgically treated.

An untreated or recurrent kidney infection can lead to chronic pyelonephritis, scarring of the kidneys, and permanent kidney damage.

For More Information

American Foundation for Urologic Disease
1000 Corporate Boulevard Suite 410
Linthicum, MD 21090
Phone: 1-800-828-7866 or 410-689-3990
Email: [email protected]

SOURCE: National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse

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