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Understanding Kidney Infections

Germs cause kidney infections

Download the full article here!

What are kidneys?

You have two kidneys.

Your kidneys clean your blood.

Your kidneys also make urine to get rid of things your body does not need.

Infections happen when germs get inside your body and make you sick.

Germs are tiny living things that cause infections.

Sometimes germs make us sick.

If germs get into your kidneys, you can develop a kidney infection and become sick.

You may have a kidney infection if you:

  • Feel pain in your back or side
  • Need to go to the bathroom more than usual
  • Feel pain or burning when using the bathroom
  • Have urine that is cloudy or bloody or smells strong
  • Feel warm (have a fever)
  • Feel tired

Tell someone immediately if you:

  • Feel pain when you urinate
  • Feel very hot (have a high fever)
  • Are vomiting
  • Feel like you will vomit
  • Feel confused

Anyone can get a kidney infection, but you are at extra risk if:

  • You use a catheter (a tube that helps urine leave your body)
  • You get a lot of another kind of infection called a urinary tract infection (also called UTIs)

*Learn more about UTIs.

You are also at extra risk of getting a kidney infection if you:

  • Are a woman
  • Are a woman who is pregnant
  • Have cancer, diabetes, or are HIV positive
  • Have an enlarged prostate or kidney stones

If you are feeling sick, call the doctor.

Tell the doctor what you are feeling in your body (your symptoms).

*Try your best to explain exactly how you feel – this will help you get the best treatment!

Follow the doctor’s advice about what to do.

You may need to see the doctor for an examination.

Your doctor will take a urine sample and test it for any infection.

You may need to give a blood sample.

Sometimes the doctor may use an x-ray to look inside your body.

Your doctor will tell you what to do to get better.

The doctor may prescribe you medicine.

*You can learn how to take your medicine properly here.

Let your doctor know about any other medications you are taking.

Make sure you understand all of the doctor’s instructions before you leave.

There are other things you can do to help yourself feel better!

  • Drink lots of water.
  • Urinate often to flush out any infection.
  • Use a heating pad to ease any stomach pain.
  • Rest.

If you have a serious kidney infection, you may need to stay in the hospital.

  • The medicine may need to be put directly into your blood through an IV (intravenous tube).

What can I do to prevent kidney infections?

  • The best way to prevent kidney infections is to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). Learn more here!
  • If you do get a UTI, make sure to get treatment quickly to prevent germs from spreading to your kidneys.

Where can I learn more about kidney infections?

National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse
Medline Plus – Kidney Diseases
Mayo Clinic – Kidney Infection
You can also learn more by talking to your doctor!

Last updated on Thu, 06/10/2010 - 16:01