Skip to Content

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.



You may need any of the following:

  • Antibiotics will treat your infection.
  • Prescription pain medicine can help decrease your pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take this medicine.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your PHP if you think your medicine is not helping or you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Drink liquids as directed:

Ask your PHP how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.

Urinate as soon as you feel the urge:

This will help flush bacteria from your urinary system. Do not wait or hold your urine for too long.

Clean your perineal (genital) 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 for infection. Urinate within 15 minutes after you have sex.

Follow up with your PHP as directed:

Bring a list of any questions you have so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Contact your PHP 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.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have a fever and shaking chills.
  • You cannot stop vomiting.
  • You have severe pain in your abdomen, lower back, or sides.

© 2015 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 A.D.A.M., Inc. 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.