Home Kidneys and urinary systemInfections of the urinary tract Pyelonephritis: causes, symptoms and treatment

Pyelonephritis: causes, symptoms and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Pyelonephritis refers to an infection originating in the urinary tract, particularly in the urethra or bladder. Subsequently, it moves to the kidneys, impairing the normal function of these organs. It is essential to treat it as soon as possible to avoid the complications it can lead to and prevent it from causing lifelong kidney damage. It is a consequence of repetitive cystitis, kidney stones, or structural alterations in the kidneys or urinary tract, among other conditions. And although it is not very common, it is a disease that can lead to chronic, so it is advisable to act quickly and put yourself in the hands of a specialist. At FastlyHeal, we explain in detail what they are the causes, symptoms and treatment of pyelonephritis.

Causes of pyelonephritis

Pyelonephritis is a kidney infection that commonly occurs when the ureters move the microorganisms or bacteria from the fecal flora. These ducts connect the kidneys to the bladder and begin to multiply. The organisms that tend to cause this type of infection are bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Klebsiella spp, and Proteus spp, and of these, E.coli is the most frequent, causing more than 80% of cases. Although it rarely happens, the bacteria can also spread to the kidneys through the bloodstream.

Here are the factors that can increase the risk of developing pyelonephritis and in which cases you are more prone to developing it:

  • Female gender: Women are at higher risk for kidney infection. This is because their urethra is shorter than men’s, so bacteria can travel to the bladder much more quickly. In addition, in the female body, the urethra is very close to the vagina and anus, facilitating the entry of microorganisms into the bladder. Once in it, it is possible to reach the kidneys.
  • Being pregnant: During pregnancy, especially in the last trimester, excessive pressure on the urethra can increase the risk of pyelonephritis. Therefore, it is essential to have timely urine checks during pregnancy and receive the appropriate treatment if necessary.
  • Family history: People who have direct relatives who usually suffer from urinary infections are more likely to suffer from this disease.
  • Obstruction in the urinary tract: Any condition that prevents the bladder from emptying or the flow of urine from being obstructed can increase the risk of developing a kidney infection. It can be, for example, the presence of kidney stones, abnormalities in the urinary tract, or an enlarged prostate in the case of men.
  • Vesicoureteral reflux is a condition that causes urine to return to the ureters in small amounts, that is, to flow in the opposite direction than usual. This causes people who suffer from it to have urinary infections repeatedly.
  • Urinary catheter: Catheters used to drain urine can increase the chance of developing a kidney infection when used for a long time.
  • Weakened immune system: Cancer or AIDS patients have a weaker immune system, and pyelonephritis can present more severely.

Types and Symptoms of pyelonephritis

It should be noted that there are two different types of pyelonephritis, and, based on this, we can talk about some symptoms or others.

Pyelonephritis aguda

In this case, the infection occurs suddenly and intensely, and the symptoms that may be experienced are the following:

  • Unilateral or bilateral lumbar pain.
  • High fever of more than 38º and chills.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches.
  • Weakness and general malaise.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pain and burning when urinating.
  • Urinate more frequently
  • The urine is of abnormal color, with the presence of blood and with a more pungent odor.
  • Older adults may also experience mental disturbances or a state of confusion.

Chronic pyelonephritis

It is a prolonged kidney infection that cannot be quickly resolved, as it is observed in those who suffer damage to the kidneys due to suffering from stones, repetitive acute diseases, or other conditions such as anatomical abnormalities, which make them more prone to developing this type of infections.

It can be asymptomatic for an extended period or cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, fever, weight loss, malaise, and blood in the urine. It severely compromises the function of the kidneys, which in the long term could lead to kidney failure.

Pyelonephritis treatment

Treatment of acute pyelonephritis

As it is an infectious disease, treatment is based on the administration of oral antibiotic drugs. It is essential to strictly follow the doctor’s instructions regarding the appropriate dose and duration of such therapy, as this will vary from case to case. In general, uncomplicated pyelonephritis usually has a treatment of 14 days, but this duration can increase up to 21 days if it occurs more severely.

Pyelonephritis is a disease that can lead to hospital admission of the patient when there are complications such as sepsis (inflammatory response of the body to a severe infection), chronic kidney failure, very intense pain, abundant blood in the urine, as well as if the affected person suffers some type of significant disease, cannot continue oral treatment or does not progress after finishing antibiotic treatment. In this case, antibiotics can be administered intravenously, and their duration will depend on the condition of the patient and the severity of the infection.

Treatment of chronic pyelonephritis

When pyelonephritis is chronic, long-term antibiotic treatment may be necessary, and, in addition, careful medical monitoring of the disease is essential. Usually, frequent or chronic kidney infections result from other medical problems such as structural abnormalities, so the doctor may recommend a visit with other specialists to treat the underlying causes or even surgical intervention. In addition to this, the patient will be offered some dietary and lifestyle guidelines to avoid future urinary infections.

Other recommendations for treating kidney infection

In addition to the essential antibiotic medical treatment, patients suffering from a kidney infection of this type should adopt measures such as the following, as these will help them recover more quickly and promote their well-being:

  • Rest when the symptoms are present in an intense way and the pain is muscular.
  • Increase your intake of healthy fluids by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Consult with the doctor if it is possible to take medications indicated to lower fever and relieve pain and other symptoms that appear.
  • Maintaining good genital hygiene, wiping from front to back when urinating, and constantly urinating after sex can significantly reduce the risk of UTIs.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Pyelonephritis: causes, symptoms and treatment , we recommend that you enter our Kidneys and urinary system category .

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