Pyelonephritis (kidney infection) caused by E.coli bacteria can increase risk of kidney damage, sepsis

Pyelonephritis (kidney infection) caused by E.coli bacteria can increase risk of kidney damage, sepsis

Pyelonephritis (kidney infection) caused by E. coli bacteria can increase the risk of kidney damage and sepsis. Pyelonephritis is a type of urinary tract infection (UTI) typically caused by E. coli bacteria. The bacteria can spread from the bladder or the urethra to either one or both of the kidneys.


Serious complications can arise if a kidney infection is not treated promptly like kidney damage and sepsis (blood poisoning).

There are two main types of kidney infections: Uncomplicated kidney infection and complicated kidney infection. Uncomplicated kidney infection is when a person is healthy and the risk of complications is highly unlikely. In complicated kidney infections  a person is more likely to suffer from complications possibly due to a co-existing medical condition or illness.

Kidney infection causes

As mentioned kidney infections can be caused by the bacteria E. coli. Other causes of kidney infections include:

  • Weakened immune systems
  • Pathogens spreading through the urethra to the kidneys
  • Poor toilet hygiene such as using toilet paper used to wipe the anus
  • Female physiology because female urethras are shorter
  • Urinary catheter
  • Kidney stones
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Sexually active females

Pyelonephritis (kidney infection) symptoms

 Symptoms of a kidney infection include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Uncontrollable shivering
  • Vomiting
  • Back pain
  • Pain in the groin
  • Pain in the side
  • Symptoms worsen when urinating

If a bladder infection coincides with a kidney infection symptoms may also include:

Pyelonephritis (kidney infection) diagnosis and treatment


There are a slew of tests which a doctor can perform in order to properly diagnose a kidney infection including:

  • Urinanalysis
  • Urine culture
  • Ultrasound
  • CT scan
  • X-ray imaging of the bladder and urethra when full and when urinating
  • Digital rectal examination
  • Dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) scintigraphy

Kidney infections are commonly treated with antibiotics over the course of several weeks. Antibiotic treatment may first target common forms of bacteria but once urine culture comes back from the lab your doctor can prescribe more specific antibiotics based on the bacteria which is causing the infection.

If patients are severely ill intravenous fluids and hospital stays may be recommended along with antibiotic treatment in order to speed up recovery.

Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.


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