What is acute pyelonephritis?
Acute pyelonephritis is a kidney infection caused by bacteria. The infection may start lower in the urinary tract, such as in your bladder. The infection then travels up the urinary tract to one or both kidneys.
What increases my risk of acute pyelonephritis?
You may be at higher risk of infection if you are pregnant or have diabetes, kidney stones, or cancer. This is because your immune system may not be able to fight the infection. You may also be at higher risk if you have a urinary catheter. Women can get a kidney infection if bacteria enter the urethra after sex.
What are the signs and symptoms of acute pyelonephritis?
- Fever and chills
- Overall tiredness and general discomfort
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain in your abdomen, lower back, or sides
- Pain or burning when you urinate
- Urge to urinate often but only urinate a little at a time
- Unable to urinate
- Bloody or cloudy urine
How is acute pyelonephritis diagnosed?
Your caregiver will ask about your symptoms and examine you. You may need to give a urine sample to test for bacteria.
How is acute pyelonephritis treated?
- Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
- Medicines to treat pain or a fever: You may use over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to decrease pain or lower a fever. These medicines can be bought without a doctor's order. Read the label carefully. These medicines can cause stomach bleeding if they are not taken correctly.
How can I manage my acute pyelonephritis?
- Rest: You may need more rest as you heal.
- Drink liquids as directed: Adults should drink between 9 and 13 eight-ounce cups of liquid every day. Ask what amount is best for you. For most people, good liquids to drink are water, juice, and milk.
- Urinate often: Urinate as soon as you feel the need. Do not wait or hold your urine for too long. This will help flush bacteria from your urinary system.
- Care for your perineal area: Clean your perineal area every day with soap and water. Wipe from front to back after you urinate or have a bowel movement. Wear cotton underwear. Fabrics such as nylon and polyester can stay damp. This can increase your risk of infection. Urinate within 15 minutes after you have sex. Women should avoid sexual positions that irritate or hurt the urethra or bladder.
What are the risks of acute pyelonephritis?
Acute pyelonephritis may cause long-term kidney damage or kidney failure. The infection could spread to your other organs or blood. This can be life-threatening. You can get high blood pressure if the infection is not treated. You could also get a kidney abscess (pus-filled pocket).
When should I contact my caregiver?
Contact your caregiver if:
- You have a fever after you take antibiotics for 2 days.
- You have pain when you urinate, even after treatment.
- Your signs and symptoms return.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
When should I seek immediate help?
Seek immediate help or call 911 if:
- You have a fever and shaking chills.
- You cannot stop throwing up.
- You have severe pain in your abdomen, lower back, or sides.
You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of the Blausen Databases or Truven Health Analytics.
The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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