Last updated: February 21, 2017

Kidney Infection Symptoms

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Kidney infection symptoms: An overview


Image courtesy of: National Kidney & Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC)

Kidney infection symptoms depend upon the type and extent of infection. There are several different possible diagnosis in patients with kidney infection symptoms. The two kidneys have their own collecting tubes called ureters. Each of these tubes come down and empty urine in the urinary bladder. The urinary bladder then drain the urine out from a single tube called the urethra. It is the opening of the urethra where the urine comes out from. Kidney infection symptoms may come from infection in the kidneys themselves but kidney infection symptoms may come from the ureters, the bladder or the urethra. Kidney infection symptoms starting from these different anatomic locations may have slightly different presentation.

Kidney infection symptoms: Specific diagnosis and what they mean

It is better to get yourself familiar with a few medical terms to understand what they mean in describing kidney infection symptoms. Here are a few common ones:

1. Kidney infection symptoms and Acute Pyelonephritis:

Acute Pyelonephritis is a serious infection of the kidneys. In patients with kidney infection symptoms from acute pyelonephritis, the infection affect the kidneys themselves. The infection can start in the bladder and climb up to the kidneys. It can also start in the blood and go down to the kidneys in some patients with severe kidney infection symptoms. Patients with kidney infection symptoms from acute pyelonephritis appear sicker than other types of kidney infection, In addition to usual back pain and fever they may have severe generalized weakness, nausea, vomiting and dehydration. Many patients with kidney infection symptoms with a diagnosis of Acute Pyelonephritis need intravenous antibiotics and hospitalization.

2. Kidney infection symptoms and acute cystitis:

Symptoms from acute cystitis , strictly speaking, are not considered true kidney infection symptoms. It is the infection of the urinary bladder. As the bladder is connected to both the kidneys as I mentioned above, there is the risk of infection climbing up to the kidneys. Cystitis and pyelonephritis are both considered urinary trat infection and the symptoms of these infections may overlap with each other. Normally kidney infection symptoms from pure acute cystitis are less severe than kidney infection symptoms of acute pyelonephritis. They most have symptoms of the lower urinary tract infection such as pain and burning with urination. They may also have pain in the pelvic area slightly lower than the site of pain of pyelonephritis. But these kidney infection symptoms may overlap and other symptoms need to considered when deciding if the urinary tract infection is just cystitis or has progressed to acute pyelonephritis.

3. Kidney infection symptoms and acute urethritis:

Acute urethritis is the infection of the final part of the urinary tract. Urethra is the tube that connects the bladder to the outside world. Kidney infection symptoms from acute urethritis are considered lower urinary tract infection. Again these are not true kidney infection symptoms but are considered a part of the urinary tract infection. Urethritis usually causes pain and burning with urination but may have overlapping symptoms with cystitis. Patients with urethritis may have foul smelling discharge from the urethra. The exact symptoms depend upon the type of infection and the age and sex of the patient.

4. Kidney infection symptoms and renal abscess:

Kidney infection symptoms from renal abscess have symptoms similar to acute pyelonepritis but patients appear very sick and toxic. When kidney infection symptoms from acute pyelonephritis get worse, doctor worry about the formation of anscess in the kidneys. These abscess are a collection of pus and dead tissue walled off from the normal kidney tissue surrounding it. If patients with kidney infection symptoms do not get better with the appropriate antibiotics treatment, doctors order a CT scan of the abdomen. After the diagnosis is made, they need a surgical drainage of the abscess in addition to the standard treatment of acute pyelonephritis.

Kidney infection symptoms: Learn from the real patients

Like many other diseases discussed here, kidney infection symptoms depend upon how other organs and overall health of the patient contribute in the development of kidney infection symptoms in that particular patient. That is why you have to really understand the circumstances under which the patient developed the kidney infection symptoms to clearly understand how kidney infection symptoms develop in any particular patient. I have composed a series of articles based on my real patients who had kidney infection symptoms. When you read these stories and understand how kidney infection symptoms is diagnosed and treated in real life, you will have a clear idea about multiple types of kidney infections and how they present. Just reading a list of kidney infection symptoms in a textbook or a health website will not give you the whole picture that you get from reading real patient stories.

Here are some of the stories from my real patients: