Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD. Patient Handout

About Your Diagnosis

Pyelonephritis means infection of the kidney. This usually starts as a urinary tract infection (UTI). A UTI is an inflammation that occur when germs get into the urinary tract. These germs usually enter the the urinary tract through the urethra (tube that carries urine out of the body). These germs may then go up to the urinary bladder (the organ where urine is stored before it is passed out of the body) and sometimes to the kidney. When they go to the kidney, it is called pyelonephritis. Sometimes germs may reach the kidneys from the bloodstream. Infections of the kidney are less common; however, they are more serious. Repeated kidney infections may hurt the kidney and lead to scarring. Very rarely, when an individual has a block or other problem in the urinary tract, then infection may continue to damage the kidneys and cause what is called chronic pyelonephritis. This can cause kidney failure. Certain individuals have a greater risk of getting UTIs. These include:
• Women.
• Older individuals.
• Individuals with a tube called a catheter placed in the bladder to help drain urine.
• Individuals with diabetes.
• Individuals with blockage of their urinary tract with stones or an enlarged prostate gland.

Living With Your Diagnosis
You may have fever, feel sick to your stomach, and have pain in your back or side below the ribs. You will be treated with antibiotics. Your doctor will follow-up closely to ensure the infection has been cleared. In more complicated cases, the underlying cause such as obstruction or infection needs to be treated. Your doctor will see you periodically once you get better to ensure that the infection does not come back.

You are usually admitted to the hospital and treated with antibiotics given into your vein. The antibiotics are administered through your vein until you improve. They may then be switched to antibiotics in tablet form, which may need to be continued for 3–4 weeks. You will be given pain relief and fluids through your vein if you are dehydrated. If you have repeated UTIs, you may be treated with low doses of antibiotic daily for a period of 6 months or more to prevent infections.

The DOs
• Do tell your doctor if there is a history of kidney infections in your family. Certain tests can be done in infants to detect conditions that may result in future infections and kidney damage.
• Do drink plenty of water.
• Drinking large amounts of cranberry juice is sometimes advised because it makes the urine more acidic and slows the growth of germs.
• Do not put off going to the bathroom when you feel the need.
• Do go to the bathroom after having sex and observe clean hygiene.
• Do ask your doctor about any questions you may have regarding this condition.

The DON’Ts
• Don’t stop taking your medication before checking with your doctor.
• Don’t take over-the-counter medication unless you have checked with your doctor. Some of these medicines may not be safe with your kidney condition.
• Don’t take any herbal preparations that you may find at health food stores. Some of these preparations have been known to cause kidney disease.
• Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor any questions about your disease or its treatment that may concern you.

When to Call Your Doctor
Always call your doctor if you feel unwell. He may be able to assess whether you need to be seen right away or whether a change in medication is necessary.