A common kidney infection is pyelonephritis, a type of urinary tract infection that affects one or both kidneys. Your urinary tract is your body’s drainage system for removing wastes and extra water and includes your bladder, ureters, urethra and kidneys.
- Bacteria or viruses cause kidney infection, and the infection may begin in the bladder, move up into the kidneys or can be carried through the bloodstream from other parts of the body. When a urinary tract infection does not move into the kidneys, it is called cystitis.
- People who are most at risk for kidney infections, already have a bladder infection or have a structural or anatomic problem in the urinary tract that may block the flow of urine from the kidneys into the bladder.
- A kidney stone or an enlarged prostrate are two structural problems that can block the flow of urine to the bladder. This blockage can cause a back up, also known as reflux, into the kidneys. Pregnant women, people with diabetes or a weakened immune system are also at increased risk of this reflux.
- Like many infections, you may experience fever, chills, vomiting, and nausea. With a kidney infection there may also be back, side and groin pain and frequent, painful urination.
Most people with kidney infections do not experience complications if treated with antibiotics. However, in some rare cases, kidney infection can result in kidney scars which can lead to chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure and kidney failure. This is more common in people with kidney stones, repeated kidney infections or kidney disease from other causes. Infection in the kidneys can also spread into the bloodstream—a serious condition called sepsis.