What You Need to Know About Kidney Infections

May 7th 2016

Without treatment, a kidney infection can cause permanent kidney damage, blood poisoning and pregnancy complications. When symptoms first arise, make an appointment with your general doctor, who may refer you to a urologist for diagnosis and treatment. Be prepared to answer questions about symptoms, personal information and medications, and ask your doctor about any questions you have regarding the infection.

Cause and Symptoms of a Kidney Infection

A UTI begins in the urethra or bladder when bacteria enters and multiplies, causing irritation. The UTI bacteria then moves to the kidneys. Symptoms include fever, flank or groin pain, frequent urination and the general urge to urinate, pain when urinating, blood in the urine, or urine that smells foul and appears cloudy.

Treatment of a Kidney Infection

Most kidney infection cases are simply treated with antibiotics, and symptoms clear up in a few days. Treatment is completed when the full antibiotic course is taken over one to two weeks. If a kidney infection is left unattended, hospitalization is often required for treatment. When symptoms first arise and before medical treatment, you can alleviate discomfort by applying heat to the abdomen, taking pain medications, and drinking a large amount of fluids. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as they are irritants to urination.

How to Prevent a Kidney Infection

Kidney infections are most common in women, as their urethras are shorter, so bacteria has a shorter distance to travel. Kidney stones and an enlarged prostate gland in men increase the risk of an infection. To prevent an infection, women should always urinate after intercourse and generally maintain hygiene around the area of the urethra, which includes avoiding the use of feminine products that contain perfumes. Proper hydration and frequent urination also help to prevent infection.


A kidney infection is a type of urinary tract infection. It is imperative to seek immediate medical attention, as an infection can permanently damage kidneys. Treatment often involves antibiotics and, in some cases, hospitalization.

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