Pyelonephritis kidney infection signs and symptoms

Pyelonephritis kidney infection signs and symptomsPyelonephritis is an infection of the kidneys, which are part of the urinary system that also includes the urethra, ureters, bladder, and prostate for men. The kidneys’ primary role is filtering the body’s waste products, regulating blood pressure, and maintaining a normal concentration of electrolytes in the body.

When an infection occurs in the kidneys, it is known as an upper urinary tract infection, or pyelonephritis. Here we will outline the signs and symptoms related to a kidney infection.

Signs and symptoms of a kidney infection


Diarrhea: Diarrhea is characterized by loose, watery stools often as a result of bacteria. There are two main types of diarrhea: acute and chronic. Acute diarrhea lasts for a few days as a response to an infection, whereas chronic diarrhea lasts for several weeks and is often associated with an intestinal disorder or condition, like celiac disease or Crohn’s disease.

Fever and uncontrollable shivering: Fever or chills is a common symptom of majority of infections associated with high bacterial count.

Nausea: Nausea, and maybe even vomiting, may occur as a result of a kidney infection. The infection itself may make you feel as if you are sick to your stomach. Nausea in a kidney infection may be a result of intense pain, dehydration, or the improper function of the kidneys.

Fatigue: You may feel fatigued or low energy as a result of your body fighting off an infection.

Back pain: Back pain, or flank pain, can result from a kidney infection close to where the kidneys are located. If the pain does not subside even after taking pain medications, speak to your doctor right away.

Bloody urine: If the kidney infection is severe, you may notice blood in your urine as a result of red blood cells mixing with urine. This is common if kidney function becomes disrupted and unable to filter properly.

Cloudy urine: Healthy urine is clear and light yellow in color. Unhealthy urine can be cloudy, hazy, or milky looking. This can occur for a number of different reasons, including sexually transmitted diseases, dehydration, infections, or diseases that affect other body systems along with the urinary tract. While cloudy urine in men does happen, women get it more often since their bodies lend itself to E. coli forming in the bladder.

Dysuria: Dysuria – also known as painful urination – is a condition that can be an early sign of a urinary tract infection. Dysuria leads to feeling pain, discomfort, or burning while urinating. It’s important to seek medical attention if you are experiencing dysuria, as there may be a number of different causes.

Frequent urination: If the kidney infection spreads to the urethra, you may also experience frequent urination. The urge persists even after you have emptied your bladder. This could be one of the early signs of a kidney infection.

Pain in the lower abdomen: Lower left abdominal pain may be related to a kidney infection, which not only causes abdominal pain, but pain while urinating as well.

Complications of kidney infections


If not properly or well treated, kidney infections can contribute to complications. Complications as a result of kidney infections include kidney abscess, blood poisoning, severe infection, kidney failure, high blood pressure, or premature labor or birth if you are pregnant.

By recognizing the signs and symptoms of a kidney infection, you can have greater success in reducing your risk of kidney infection complications along with getting back on your way to being healthy.

Related: Lower back pain and frequent urination: Causes and treatments

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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