A kidney infection, also known as pyelonephritis, occurs when a urinary tract infection (UTI) spreads to the upper urinary system, which includes the kidneys and ureters. The kidneys’ primary function is to filter blood, which yields urine. This bacterial infection normally affects only one kidney.
Kidney infections occur in 1-3% of women per year. Women are more susceptible to kidney infections compared to men because their urethra is shorter. Also, a woman’s urethra is closer to the anus, which allows bacteria to easily travel from the bowel up the urethra.
There are a variety of causes of kidney infections in women:
The symptoms of a kidney infection begins with painful and frequent urination, which is due to the presence of a UTI. Once the kidney is infected, a woman can experience a fever or chills, nausea and vomiting, back or flank pain, blood in the urine, painful urination, and increased urge to urinate.
A kidney infection is easier to treat when it is diagnosed in its early stages. A urologist will prescribe a round of antibiotics for 7-14 days, depending on its severity. For acute pain and fever, painkillers may be prescribed. Over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen are not recommended as they may affect kidney function during the healing process. Hospitalization may be required if severe symptoms persist or if the infection is challenging to eliminate.
The urologists at Academic Urology and Urogynecology of Arizona specialize in the various conditions within women’s urology, including kidney infections. Kidney infections can be an uncomfortable condition to experience, but our urologists’ knowledge and experience come together to help you recover in a quick and painless manner. Call us today to schedule an appointment or to learn more about our state-of-the-art facilities located throughout Arizona.