What causes pyelonephritis?

Pyelonephritis results from an infection, generally bacterial, of the kidneys. Oftentimes, this infection spreads from the urinary tract to the bladder and progresses to the kidneys. Left untreated, it can lead to permanent damage. In very serious cases, the infection can spread to the bloodstream (sepsis).

What are the risk factors for pyelonephritis?

A number of factors increase the risk of developing pyelonephritis. Not all people with risk factors will get pyelonephritis. Risk factors include:

  • Diabetes (chronic disease that affects your body’s ability to use sugar for energy)
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Fecal incontinence (inability to control stools)
  • Hospitalization
  • Immobility
  • Immunocompromised health status
  • Kidney stones
  • Narrow urethra
  • Older age
  • Pregnancy
  • Previous bout of pyelonephritis
  • Problems voiding the bladder
  • Recent urinary tract infection
  • Surgery
  • Urinary catheter

Reducing your risk of pyelonephritis

The best prevention for pyelonephritis is obtaining prompt treatment for any urinary tract infection. You may also be able to lower your risk of pyelonephritis by:

  • Avoiding alcohol and caffeine
  • Avoiding tight-fitting pants
  • Avoiding undergarments made from synthetic materials
  • Avoiding use of scented products around the genital area
  • Bathing the opening of the urethra thoroughly and regularly
  • Drinking cranberry juice (unless you have kidney stones)
  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Seeing your doctor to treat urinary tract infections
  • Taking showers instead of baths
  • Urinating before and after sexual intercourse
  • Wiping from front to back after a bowel movement


What is pyelonephritis?

Pyelonephritis is a kidney infection. It is usually bacterial in origin and stems from an infection in another part of the urinary tract, such as the bladder. Pyelonephritis can occur in anyone, although it is more likely to occur in women.

Symptoms of pyelonephritis include pain or burning during urination, an urgent need to urinate, Read more about pyelonephritisintroduction


What are the symptoms of pyelonephritis?

Symptoms of pyelonephritis occur due to infection of the kidneys and include pain, problems with urination, and other symptoms of general infection.

Common symptoms of pyelonephritis

You may experience pyelonephritis symptoms daily or only occasionally. Any of these symptoms can be severe:


How is pyelonephritis treated?

Pyelonephritis is generally treated with antibiotics. In addition to antibiotics, fluid therapy and medications to control pain and nausea may be used to treat symptoms of pyelonephritis.

Medications for pyelonephritis

Generally, oral antibiotic regimens are recommended for clearing uncomplicated pye... Read more about pyelonephritistreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Kidneys and the Urinary System

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