Pyelonephritis: Definition, Symptoms And Treatment
Pyelonephritis: Definition, Symptoms And Treatment

Pyelonephritis: Definition, Symptoms And Treatment

Pyelonephritis is a urinary tract infection affecting the kidneys. It is most often a result of untreated cystitis. What are its symptoms and treatment?

What Is Pyelonephritis? 

Acute pyelonephritis is a bacterial urinary tract infection affecting the kidneys. It often follows acute untreated cystitis. The main infectious agent of the disease is the bacterium Escherichia Coli. Pyelonephritis affects women much more than men, especially those who are pregnant or over the age of 55 years. 

Symptoms Of Pyelonephritis 

The first symptom of acute pyelonephritis is a high fever (39-40 °) appearing suddenly. It is accompanied by chills, cold sweats and a state of general fatigue. The infected person also feels pain in the lumbar fossa (lower back pain), usually on one side only. It can also spread to the genitals.

Pyelonephritis has characteristic signs of cystitis:

- frequent urge to urinate

- pain or burning sensation during urination

- presence of blood in the urine

In addition, signs of digestive disorders may occur:

- diarrhoea

- nausea

- vomiting

In the course of the evolution of acute pyelonephritis, hypertension and / or anaemia may also be observed. In young children, acute pyelonephritis may, in addition to the above symptoms, be manifested in urine with unusual colour or odour, weight loss or untimely mood changes.

Causes Of Pyelonephritis

Escherichia coli is the primary cause of pyelonephritis (85% of cases). The infectious agent may also be of the enterococci or staphylococcus family. The people most at risk of contracting the infection are those with a urinary or genital tract abnormality (urinary tract malformation, vesiculoureteral reflux, obstructive urinary syndromes) and people with chronic metabolic disease, like diabetes or HIV.

Treatment Of Pyelonephritis

Pyelonephritis is an infection that should be taken very seriously. As soon as symptoms appear, a doctor should be consulted. A urine analysis and sometimes a blood test will be taken. An ultrasound of the kidney and bladder can also be ordered, especially in case of recurrent or chronic pyelonephritis, to highlight the cause of the disease. The treatment of pyelonephritis is antibiotic therapy. An antibiogram can test the effectiveness of antibiotics on the pathogen in order to find the most effective option. It is also advisable to take a period of rest and drink a lot of fluids. If signs indicate a possible complication, surgery may be performed. If an obstacle prevents the normal flow of urine, drainage of the urinary tract will need to be done urgently.

By Stacey Williams
Last edited

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