Jeff Hirschberg, MD
Dr. Hirschberg completed his residency in Texas in 2009 and has been at Pali Momi Medical Center in Aiea, Hawaii since 2011. He’s passionate about his work and cares deeply about his patients, many of whom he is on a first name basis with. He believes the ease and comfort of WePrescribe will only improve medical care and the doctor-patient relationship.
Kidney Infection (Pyelonephritis)
Pyelonephritis refers to an infection in the kidneys. Most times, doctors treat kidney infections with antibiotics and painkillers. However, it could become a serious illness. To note, complications include severe kidney damage. Additionally, infection could spread through the body. We know this as sepsis. Kidney infection symptoms and treatment are as follows.
Causes of a kidney infection
Most times, bladder infections cause kidney infections. We also know this as cystitis. Specifically, bacteria travels up the ureter from the bladder to the kidney. However, not all kidney infections are from bladder infections. Kidney stones or other abnormalities of the kidney can cause a kidney infection too.
Typically, kidney infection affects one kidney. It can occur at any age. Also, it is more common in women as bladder infections are more common in women. The proximity of the urethra to the anus causes women to be at higher risk for developing a kidney infection. As a result, it easier for the bacteria to get from the bowels to the bladder in women. Furthermore, children, pregnant women and elderly people are more likely to suffer from kidney infections. We detail kidney infection symptoms and treatment below.
What are the symptoms of a kidney infection?
Symptoms of a kidney infection progress over a few hours and may include, for instance:
- Firstly, one may experience pain in a loin or flank.
- High fever along with shivering
- Nausea or vomiting
- Also, you could notice blood in the urine.
- Pain while urinating
- Lastly, a common symptom is frequent urination.
To note, all symptoms may not develop. Additionally, some people may only feel unwell or confused. Therefore, a urine test is often necessary to diagnose the condition. In brief, a urinalysis confirms infection if complains of symptoms.
Do I need any tests?
The simplest test is a dipstick urine test. This test involves testing a sample of your urine for bacteria that shows kidney infection. If bacteria is found, the sample will be sent for further analysis. This is to determine which exact bacteria is causing the infection, which will allow the doctor to prescribe the correct antibiotic. This helps with kidney infection symptoms and treatment.
A urine test may be the only test that is required, however, if you suffer from kidney stones you may be required to take an ultrasound scan. You may also need an ultrasound scan if some other kidney abnormality is suspected too.
What is the treatment for a kidney infection?
Treatment for kidney infection includes the following. For instance:
- Typically, doctors’ prescribe antibiotics once they suspect kidney infection. However, bacteria respond to different antibiotics. Furthermore, some bacteria are resistant to certain antibiotics. In these cases, doctors will change your antibiotics based on the urine test. Of note, usually doctors prescribe ciprofloxacin, co-amoxiclav or trimethoprim for a duration of 7-14 days.
- Additionally, paracetamol is prescribed for pain relief. Additionally, it reduces fever. For severe pain, painkillers may be needed. However, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen are not recommended for kidney infections. This is because they could hamper the working of the kidneys.
- Consume lots of fluids to prevent dehydration
In most cases, treatment can be done at home. Contact a doctor if the symptoms do not improve after 24 hours. You may need to be admitted to a hospital if you have the following. For instance:
- If you are unable to take in any fluids due to extreme vomiting.
- The infection is severe.
- Symptoms do not settle within 24 hours after starting antibiotics
- You are pregnant
- You have other medical complications, including an underlying kidney problem or diabetes.
What are possible complications?
Most people make a complete recovery with just antibiotics. However, there can be complications. These include, for instance:
- Sepsis- bacteria may enter the bloodstream and cause problem.
- Additionally, pregnant women may experience premature birth or have babies with lower birth weight.
- Kidney abscess
- Lastly, permanent damage to kidney tissues to ensue.
Of note, these complications are more likely if the infection is severe. Also, it’s more prevalent in those who with existing kidneys problems, too. In addition, people immunocompromised from chemotherapy or AIDS are also prone to developing complications. Lastly, pregnant women, elderly people, and those with poorly controlled diabetes could also be at risk of developing complications.
A rare complication is emphysematous pyelonephritis. This is when the kidney tissues are rapidly destroyed. This complication seems mostly to affect people who have poorly controlled diabetes.
How to prevent kidney infection?
- Firstly, treat constipation promptly.
- Secondly, seek medical advice for kidney stones.
- Finally, test your urine regularly for infection during pregnancy.
Have a pet that needs medical help? Telemedicine isn’t only for humans. Set up a telemedicine appointment for your pet using TelaPets and get quick help now!
Here are some of the conditions we treat:
Here’s what people are saying
North Shore, Oahu
"I thought the whole process was pretty cool. To be able do this all on the phone instead of wasting an hour or two to see my doctor and wait all that time to speak with my doctor for only 5 minutes. The best part was I didn't feel rushed either during the video consult. The doctor really took her time speaking with me and more so than my regular doctor would have the time to do so with me.
This was so convenient for me and my family, especially since we are traveling and this saved me a trip to Urgent Care, who knows how long that could have taken. I appreciate how prompt the doctor and the staff were with contacting me.
This was so great for my Dad to use as he is visiting from another country and he doesnt have health insurance. For something as simple as an earache, we didn't have to spend so much money on a quick doctor's visit. Plus the doctor was able to help my Dad sooner than our scheduled appointment!
"Everything was very helpful from the initial call down the getting my prescription. I wish I could take this service back home with me to Canada!"
The whole experience was super fast! That was thee fastest appointment I have ever had, especially for something as simple as a prescription refill. Plus I had to pick my son up for school.
The fact that I was able to do all of this without getting out of my bed. From the time I made my appointment to hearing my prescription is ready, its been less than 1 hour.
Video consult was my favorite part. I've never done a telemedicine visit before and it was cool. I can really see this being great for people with busy schedules, not to mention there is nothing like this in Hawaii yet.
"Convenience from the comfort of your own home. Some times it can be a hassle getting out of house when you're already not feeling well to see your doctor, or even just to get a refill. But this is a very convenient service."
"Just being able to do it at home and ON TIME was great, because I didn't have to spend the time to commute and spend time in the waiting room to MAYBE see my doctor at my scheduled appointment time. The doctor called me as soon on the dot of my appointment time."
Waimea, Big Island
The best part was definitely seeing the doctor on the video call. It is comforting as a patient that there is a real doctor on the other end laying eyes on me and the symptoms I could be having.
Kona, Big Island
"The doctor was great and took his time explaining my symptoms and treatment! Actually the whole experience was fantastic! I can't believe how efficient you guys are. It hasn't even been 30 minutes and I've already been contacted by pharmacy that my prescription is ready. This was great. I would definitely use this service again and highly recommend to others!"
We're trusted by local individuals and organizations.