Skip to main content

Uncomplicated Pyelonephritis

Uncomplicated Pyelonephritis

What is the urinary tract? — The urinary tract is the group of organs in the body that handle urine (figure 1). The urinary tract includes the:
Kidneys, 2 bean-shaped organs that filter the blood to make urine
Bladder, a balloon-shaped organ that stores urine
Ureters, 2 tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder
Urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body
What are urinary tract infections? — Urinary tract infections, also called "UTIs," are infections that affect either the bladder or the kidneys:
Bladder infections are more common than kidney infections. They happen when bacteria get into the urethra and travel up into the bladder. The medical term for bladder infection is "cystitis."
Kidney infections happen when the bacteria travel even higher, up into the kidneys. The medical term for kidney infection is "pyelonephritis."
Both bladder and kidney infections are more common in women than men.
What are the symptoms of a bladder infection? — The symptoms include:
Pain or a burning feeling when you urinate
The need to urinate often
The need to urinate suddenly or in a hurry
Blood in the urine
What are the symptoms of a kidney infection? — The symptoms of a kidney infection can include the symptoms of a bladder infection, but kidney infections can also cause:
Fever
Back pain
Nausea or vomiting
How do I find out if I have a urinary tract infection? — Call your doctor or nurse. Sometimes, he or she can tell if you have a urinary tract infection just by learning about your symptoms.
Your doctor or nurse might do a simple urine test. If he or she thinks you might have a kidney infection or is unsure what you have, he or she might also do a more involved urine test to check for bacteria.
How are urinary tract infections treated? — Most urinary tract infections are treated with antibiotic pills. These pills work by killing the germs that cause the infection.
If you have a bladder infection, you will probably need to take antibiotics for 3 to 7 days. If you have a kidney infection, you will probably need to take antibiotics for longer – maybe for up to 2 weeks. If you have a kidney infection, it's also possible you will need to be treated in the hospital.
Your symptoms should begin to improve within a day of starting antibiotics. But you should finish all the antibiotic pills you get. Otherwise your infection might come back.
If needed, you can also take a medicine to numb your bladder. This medicine eases the pain caused by urinary tract infections. It also reduces the need to urinate.
What if I get bladder infections a lot? — First, check with your doctor or nurse to make sure that you are really having bladder infections. The symptoms of bladder infection can be caused by other things. Your doctor or nurse will want to see if those problems might be causing your symptoms.
But if you are really dealing with repeated infections, there are things you can do to keep from getting more infections. These include:
Avoiding spermicides (sperm-killing creams) – Spermicide is a form of birth control. It seems to increase the risk of bladder infections in some women, especially when used with a diaphragm. If you use spermicide and get a lot of bladder infections, you might want to try switching to a different form of birth control.
Drinking more fluid – This can help prevent bladder infections.
Urinating right after sex – Some doctors think this helps, because it helps flush out germs that might get into the bladder during sex. There is no proof it works, but it also cannot hurt.
Vaginal estrogen – If you are a woman who has already been through menopause, your doctor might suggest this. Vaginal estrogen comes in a cream or a flexible ring that you put into your vagina. It can help prevent bladder infections.
Antibiotics – If you get a lot of bladder infections, and the above methods have not helped, your doctor might give you antibiotics to help prevent infection. But taking antibiotics has downsides, so doctors usually suggest trying other things first.
Can cranberry juice or other cranberry products prevent bladder infections? — The studies suggesting that cranberry products prevent bladder infections are not very good. Other studies suggest that cranberry products do not prevent bladder infections. But if you want to try cranberry products for this purpose, there is probably not much harm in doing so.
All topics are updated as new evidence becomes available and our peer review process is complete.
This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Mar 30, 2020.
Topic 15353 Version 12.0
Release: 28.2.2 - C28.105
© 2020 UpToDate, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

Name

Urinary Tract Infections in Adults

Body systems

Adult,Emergency Medicine,Genitourinary

The Basics

Written by the doctors and editors at UpToDate
What is the urinary tract? — The urinary tract is the group of organs in the body that handle urine (figure 1). The urinary tract includes the:
Kidneys, 2 bean-shaped organs that filter the blood to make urine
Bladder, a balloon-shaped organ that stores urine
Ureters, 2 tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder
Urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body
What are urinary tract infections? — Urinary tract infections, also called "UTIs," are infections that affect either the bladder or the kidneys:
Bladder infections are more common than kidney infections. They happen when bacteria get into the urethra and travel up into the bladder. The medical term for bladder infection is "cystitis."
Kidney infections happen when the bacteria travel even higher, up into the kidneys. The medical term for kidney infection is "pyelonephritis."
Both bladder and kidney infections are more common in women than men.
What are the symptoms of a bladder infection? — The symptoms include:
Pain or a burning feeling when you urinate
The need to urinate often
The need to urinate suddenly or in a hurry
Blood in the urine
What are the symptoms of a kidney infection? — The symptoms of a kidney infection can include the symptoms of a bladder infection, but kidney infections can also cause:
Fever
Back pain
Nausea or vomiting
How do I find out if I have a urinary tract infection? — Call your doctor or nurse. Sometimes, he or she can tell if you have a urinary tract infection just by learning about your symptoms.
Your doctor or nurse might do a simple urine test. If he or she thinks you might have a kidney infection or is unsure what you have, he or she might also do a more involved urine test to check for bacteria.
How are urinary tract infections treated? — Most urinary tract infections are treated with antibiotic pills. These pills work by killing the germs that cause the infection.
If you have a bladder infection, you will probably need to take antibiotics for 3 to 7 days. If you have a kidney infection, you will probably need to take antibiotics for longer – maybe for up to 2 weeks. If you have a kidney infection, it's also possible you will need to be treated in the hospital.
Your symptoms should begin to improve within a day of starting antibiotics. But you should finish all the antibiotic pills you get. Otherwise your infection might come back.
If needed, you can also take a medicine to numb your bladder. This medicine eases the pain caused by urinary tract infections. It also reduces the need to urinate.
What if I get bladder infections a lot? — First, check with your doctor or nurse to make sure that you are really having bladder infections. The symptoms of bladder infection can be caused by other things. Your doctor or nurse will want to see if those problems might be causing your symptoms.
But if you are really dealing with repeated infections, there are things you can do to keep from getting more infections. These include:
Avoiding spermicides (sperm-killing creams) – Spermicide is a form of birth control. It seems to increase the risk of bladder infections in some women, especially when used with a diaphragm. If you use spermicide and get a lot of bladder infections, you might want to try switching to a different form of birth control.
Drinking more fluid – This can help prevent bladder infections.
Urinating right after sex – Some doctors think this helps, because it helps flush out germs that might get into the bladder during sex. There is no proof it works, but it also cannot hurt.
Vaginal estrogen – If you are a woman who has already been through menopause, your doctor might suggest this. Vaginal estrogen comes in a cream or a flexible ring that you put into your vagina. It can help prevent bladder infections.
Antibiotics – If you get a lot of bladder infections, and the above methods have not helped, your doctor might give you antibiotics to help prevent infection. But taking antibiotics has downsides, so doctors usually suggest trying other things first.
Can cranberry juice or other cranberry products prevent bladder infections? — The studies suggesting that cranberry products prevent bladder infections are not very good. Other studies suggest that cranberry products do not prevent bladder infections. But if you want to try cranberry products for this purpose, there is probably not much harm in doing so.
All topics are updated as new evidence becomes available and our peer review process is complete.
This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Mar 30, 2020.
Topic 15353 Version 12.0
Release: 28.2.2 - C28.105
© 2020 UpToDate, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

What are other common names?

Acute Cystitis,Acute Pyelonephritis,Acute Upper Urinary Tract Infections,Acute Upper UTI,Adult Urinary Tract Infections,Adult UTI,Bladder Infections,Chronic Cystitis,Complicated Pyelonephritis,Complicated Urinary Tract Infections,Complicated UTI,Infectious Cystitis,Kidney Infections,Lower Cystitis,Lower Urinary Tract Infections,Lower UTI,Pyelonephritis,Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections,Recurrent UTI,Uncomplicated Pyelonephritis,Uncomplicated Urinary Tract Infections,Uncomplicated UTI,Upper Cystitis,UTI

Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer

This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. This is only a brief summary of general information. It does NOT include all information about conditions, illnesses, injuries, tests, procedures, treatments, therapies, discharge instructions or life-style choices that may apply to you. You must talk with your health care provider for complete information about your health and treatment options. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to accept your health care provider's advice, instructions or recommendations. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to provide advice that is right for you.The use of UpToDate content is governed by the UpToDate Terms of Use. ©2020 UpToDate, Inc. All rights reserved.

Copyright

© 2020 UpToDate, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

New! No Prescription? No problem.

Affordable Online Care is here! Answer a few questions about your concern and receive a treatment plan in as little as 15 minutes, from a board-certified provider, 100% online.

Learn more
Illustration of a prescription hand off from one mobile phone to another