Why kidney infections need prompt treatment
A kidney infection (pyelonephritis) is a painful and unpleasant illness caused by bacteria travelling from your bladder into one or both of your kidneys.
It’s more serious than cystitis, a common infection of the bladder that makes urinating painful.
If treated promptly, a kidney infection doesn’t cause serious harm, but will make you feel very unwell. If a kidney infection isn’t treated, it can get worse and cause permanent kidney damage.
Symptoms of a kidney infection often come on within a few hours. You can feel feverish, shivery, sick and have a pain in your back or side.
Most kidney infections need prompt treatment with antibiotics to stop the infection from damaging the kidneys or spreading to the bloodstream. You may also need painkillers.
If you’re especially vulnerable to the effects of an infection – for example, if you have a pre-existing health condition or are pregnant, you may be admitted to hospital and treated with antibiotics through an intravenous drip.
After taking antibiotics, you should feel completely better after about two weeks.
In rare cases, a kidney infection can cause further problems. These include blood poisoning (sepsis) and a build-up of pus in the kidney called an abscess.