Pyelonephritis is infection of the kidney causes by the upward spread of a urinary tract infection. If it is severe, pyelonephritis may also be called urosepsis. The infection results in inflammation of the kidney, or nephritis. It is treated through antibiotics and treatment of underlying causes.
The main symptoms of pyelonephritis are painful urination and pain in the abdomen and lower back, where the kidneys are located. A doctor may tap the back over the kidneys to check whether the patient feels pain, a sign of kidney infection. Other symptoms may include fever, shivering, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and delirium.
Pyelonephritis is diagnosed by urine culture and, if necessary, blood culture. As a preliminary test, a doctor may check a patient's urine for nitrite and leukocytes or white blood cells, as these can indicate infection. If this test is positive, a full urine culture is usually performed. X-rays are necessary to diagnose kidney stones, which may be responsible for the infection. In the case of recurrent pyelonephritis, an ultrasound may be performed to check for polycystic kidneys or vesicoureteral reflux, in which urine flows from the bladder back into the ureter leading to the kidneys.
Most cases of pyelonephritis are caused by bowel bacteria entering the urethra. The condition is more likely to affect those with any medical issues involving the urinary tract or kidneys, including kidney stones, vesicoureteral reflux, catheterization, prostate disease, and pregnancy. Diabetes and immune disorders also increase the risk of developing pyelonephritis. Family history of urinary tract infections, numerous or new sexual partners, and spermicide use are also risk factors.
It is very important to seek treatment as soon as you notice the symptoms of a urinary tract infection in order to prevent pyelonephritis. If you experience painful or frequent urination, along with a feeling of pressure and pain in the pubic area, see a doctor immediately. Blood or pus in the urine can be signs of a more serious condition. A urinary tract infection that has not advanced to the kidneys can typically by cleared up easily with a course of oral antibiotics.
Pyelonephritis is treated with antibiotics, usually intravenously unless the case is mild. If a patient presents with a raised white blood cell count and high fever, he or she may be hospitalized and given intravenous fluids for hydration along with the antibiotics. Patients suffering from recurring pyelonephritis are treated for the underlying cause, if it can be determined. Increased fluid intake, along with cranberry and blueberry juice or supplements and probiotics, can help prevent urinary tract infections.