What are the Best Antibiotics for a Kidney Infection?

Meshell Powell

The kidneys are responsible for filtering waste materials from the body and forming urine. When bacteria enter the kidneys, usually through the tube known as the urethra that connects the bladder to the outside of the body, an infection may develop. Antibiotics are almost always used to treat these infections. Some available antibiotics for a kidney infection include fluoroquinolones, beta-lactam antibiotics, trimethoprim, and co-trimoxazole. Choosing the best antibiotics depends upon the severity and frequency of the infections as well as the overall health of the patient.

Side effects of antibiotics that are used to treat a kidney infection may include vomiting.
Side effects of antibiotics that are used to treat a kidney infection may include vomiting.

Fluoroquinolones are commonly used to treat a kidney infection. These medications are in a class known as broad-spectrum antibiotics. This means they may be used to treat a wide variety of infections, including kidney infections. This type of antibiotic is used primarily when there has been an ongoing history of kidney problems. A rash resembling measles may occur in some patients taking this type of antibiotic.

Pregnant women should not use trimethoprim.
Pregnant women should not use trimethoprim.

Beta-lactam antibiotics are among the most frequently used antibiotics for a kidney infection. This class includes penicillin and amoxicillin, among others. Potential side effects from this group of antibiotics include nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. There have also been reports of severe allergic reactions when taking these antibiotics. Any facial swelling or difficulty breathing or swallowing should be considered medical emergencies.

Several antibiodics can treat kidney infection.
Several antibiodics can treat kidney infection.

Trimethoprim is another choice when considering treatments for a kidney infection. This type of antibiotic is used almost exclusively for the purpose of treating kidney infections. This antibiotic is not considered to be safe for women who are pregnant, especially during the first trimester. Other medical disorders, such as certain blood disorders, may prevent this type of antibiotic from being an appropriate choice. It is important for the patient to make sure the prescribing healthcare provider has a complete and accurate medical history before beginning treatment with this type of antibiotic.

Fluoroquinolones are often prescribed to treat kidney and other bacterial infections.
Fluoroquinolones are often prescribed to treat kidney and other bacterial infections.

Co-trimoxazole antibiotics are also among the more popular antibiotics for a kidney infection. This is actually a combination of two different medications, sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim. Some patients have reported a variety of toxic effects when using this type of antibiotic. This has prompted several countries to ban the use of this type of medication. Medical professionals who prescribe co-trimoxazole antibiotics will typically monitor the patient closely during the course of treatment to ensure the health and safety of the patient.

Co-trimoxazole antibiotics are among the more popular antibiotics used to treat kidney infections.
Co-trimoxazole antibiotics are among the more popular antibiotics used to treat kidney infections.

Any medication has potential risks of negative side effects. For this reason, the patient should report any new symptoms to a medical professional right away. In many cases, the antibiotic can be changed to something that may work better for the individual patient.

An untreated bladder infection may lead to a kidney infection.
An untreated bladder infection may lead to a kidney infection.

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Discussion Comments


Don't take floroquinolone drugs! Look up "Quinolone Toxicity" and you'll find out why. It leaves "many" with horrific, permanent side-effects.

Penicillin would be a "much" safer choice. I personally avoid the doctor's visit and take oregano oil every two hours when I get a kidney infection -- knocks it out.


@StarJo - I wish I could tolerate amoxicillin, but I am sensitive to it. It makes me so nauseous that I can’t function, and I really can’t stand to take it long enough for it to beat the infection.

When I got my first kidney infection, I didn’t feel sick from the amoxicillin right away. Instead, I got a strange bitter taste in my mouth.

This made everything I ate or drank taste bad. Even water had a horrible taste.

After a couple of days of this, I became nauseous. I felt as if I needed to vomit, but I couldn’t. I had to call my doctor and beg him for some other treatment.


I have polycystic kidney disease, so I am prone to kidney infections. I have multiple cysts growing on each kidney, and they rupture from time to time, causing extreme pain.

The cysts can become infected, and the ensuing kidney infection causes soreness and difficulty getting comfortable in any position, sitting or standing. I have to take amoxicillin when I get an infection like this.

I’ve never had a kidney infection that amoxicillin couldn’t knock out. It’s good stuff, and it makes the soreness start to disappear in about a day.


@honeybees - I had a urinary tract infection turn into a kidney infection once. If I had gone to the doctor while it was still confined to my lower urinary tract, then I could have prevented this.

It started out with bladder cramps and super frequent urination. I thought it would go away on its own, so I waited over a week, and something worse happened.

I began to get a dull ache in my lower back, and one morning, I awoke and vomited just a few minutes after getting out of bed. I knew that I had to see my doctor then.

He gave me plain old penicillin. I was a little concerned, because nausea and vomiting were listed as possible side effects, and I already had these. However, instead of making them worse, the penicillin made me feel better.


@Mykol - It is my understanding that a kidney infection is usually a complication of a typical urinary tract infection. A urinary tract infection affects the lower part of the bladder and when it progresses to the upper part, you have a kidney infection.

I think this is why they are often referred to as the same thing, and it makes sense why symptoms and treatment are often the same.

If either of these infections are not taken care of, they can lead to serious complications. My sister had such a severe urinary tract infection that she had to be hospitalized.

The technical term for a kidney infection is pyelonephritis. The only reason I know this is because I was having some problems with blood in my urine and had to go through all kinds of kidney testing. This went along with a UTI infection, but they needed to determine the cause.


Is there a difference between urinary tract infection symptoms and kidney infection symptoms?

It seems like when talking about these infections they are often used interchangeably, and I wondered if they were the same thing?

I am very familiar with urinary tract infections as I have had many of them. It sounds like the symptoms and treatment are pretty much the same.

I have also read that women tend to get them more often than men because of the way our bodies are made. To my knowledge, my husband has never had a kidney or urinary tract infection.

There have been some years when I have one every few months. So far the same medication has always worked and cleared up the infection, but there have been times when my doctor is concerned I will build up a resistance to the antibiotic.


@andee - You are right about how uncomfortable a kidney infection can be. I have had this more than once and am getting pretty good at recognizing the symptoms of a kidney infection.

I always have the classic symptoms of back pain, a low grade fever and painful urination. This usually comes on suddenly and I know right away that I need some kind of antibiotic.

One thing I have noticed is that the antibiotic immediately helps me feel better. Usually I notice a difference in a few hours and that brings great relief.

Every time I have made an appointment with my doctor thinking I have a kidney infection, I have been right. I wish I could just call him up and he would prescribe a medication over the phone, but I always have to go in for an exam and give a urine sample.


When I was a young girl, I remember having a kidney infection. I don't remember much about this other than it was painful and the kidney infection treatment was with antibiotics.

This was in the form of a liquid that needed to be refrigerated and taken a couple times a day. I also remember how bad this tasted and was glad when my infection was cleared up and I didn't have to take it any more.

I think they have made some significant changes in antibiotics since then. At that time, I was too young to swallow tablets or capsules, so the liquid was the best way to go. When I think about it, I have never known any kind of liquid medication to taste good!

The most important thing is that it takes care of the infection as this can be very painful and uncomfortable.

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