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Kidney Infection [Adult, Female]

Illustration showing the outline of the body with the organs of the urinary system, including the kidneys, ureter, bladder, and urethra.

An infection of the kidney is also called "pyelonephritis". It usually starts as a bladder infection ("cystitis") which spreads to the kidneys. Pyelonephritis is more serious than a bladder infection. It can cause severe illness if not treated properly.

The usual symptoms include an aching pain in the back, side or lower abdomen. Other symptoms may include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, an urge to urinate and a burning sensation when passing urine.

Home Care:

  1. Stay home from work or school. Rest in bed until your fever breaks and you are feeling better.

  2. Drink lots of fluid (at least 6-8 glasses a day, unless you must restrict fluids for other medical reasons). This will force the medicine into your urinary system and flush the bacteria out of your body.

  3. Avoid sexual intercourse until you have finished all of your medicine and your symptoms have gone away.

  4. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods which may irritate the kidney and bladder.

  5. You may use acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) to control pain, unless another pain medicine was prescribed. [NOTE: If you have chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or GI bleeding, talk with your doctor before using these medicines.]

Follow Up

with your doctor or as advised by our staff for a repeat urine test in 10 days. This will ensure that your infection is fully cleared.

[NOTE: If you had an X-ray or CT scan, it will be reviewed by a specialist. You will be notified of any new findings that may affect your care.]

Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following occur:

  • Fever over 100.4°F (38.0°C) after 48 hours of treatment

  • No improvement by the third day of treatment

  • Increasing back or abdominal pain

  • Repeated vomiting or inability to take oral medicine

  • Weakness, dizziness or fainting


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