Kidney Infection Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

What Are Glomerulonephritis and Pyelonephritis

kidney infectionKidney infection dangers are real and serious because an untreated kidney infection can lead to kidney failure. Once your kidneys no longer function, the only way to stay alive is through kidney dialysis or kidney transplantation.

There are two main types of kidney infection: pyelonephritis and glomerulonephritis.

Although the actual infection is located in the kidney, a kidney infection often starts lower in the urinary tract - namely the bladder. Germs from the bladder migrate upward the ureters multiply when they reach the kidney. This usually happens in someone who has low resistance for some reason. 

An acute kidney infection begins with severe symptoms, but then ends quickly once it has run it's course.

However, a chronic kidney infection takes a while to develop, and gets worse as time passes. Kidney failure can ultimately result.


Acute glomerulonephritis involves an inflammation of the renal glomeruli of the kidneys. It appears to be an antigen-antibody reaction, and it results in damage in the glomerular capillaries of the kidney.

Acute glomerulonephritis typically occurs after a streptococcal infection of the respiratory tract. Sometimes a skin infection such as impetigo may precede it. A strep infection is the most common cause.

Chronic glomerulonephritis, on the other hand, progresses slowly. Characteristically, there's an inflammation of the glomeruli which causes sclerosis, scarring and finally, kidney failure. This type of kidney infection is particularly insidious because it develops over a long period of time in which no symptoms are present.

A wide variety of infections can trigger glomerulonephritis, including

  • pneumonia, 
  • hepatitis, 
  • measles, 
  • malaria, and 
  • syphilis. 

Sometimes, systemic problems or structural problems in the kidney will trigger chronic glomerulonephritis.

When glomerulonephritis continues for more than a year, it's generally considered to be chronic. A person with this type of kidney infection may live a normal life for 20-30 years without symptoms, but at some point the kidneys become damaged so much they won't function. A kidney transplant or kidney dialysis may then be necessary.


Pyelonephritis is an inflammation of one or both kidneys that can come in three forms: acute, relapsing or chronic. It can involve complications like high blood pressure (hypertension) and ultimately, kidney failure.

Pyelonephritis usually progresses very slowly, and patients sometimes don't notice symptoms or experience kidney dysfunction for more than 20 years after onset.

Most cases of pyelonephritis are the result of some kind of bacterial infection, often from one of many organisms that cause bladder infections. Certain conditions increase the likelihood of such an infection: urinary tract infections, tumors, stagnant urine due to backflow from the bladder, abnormal prostate growth, diabetes mellitus, kidney stones, trauma, scars from previous infections, or even pregnancy.

What are the symptoms of kidney infection?

Kidney infection signs and symptoms are often hard to diagnose, but may include:

  • back pain, 
  • fever or chills,  
  • nausea, 
  • cloudy, foul smelling urine,  
  • unusual, unexplained weakness and fatigue.  

Learn more about the dangers of kidney disease by clicking on the book cover below or

The Kidney Disease Solution

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