Causes of kidney infection: Symptoms & risk factors

Anju Bisht

, Health A2Z


I bet most of you don’t know the causes of kidney infection and UTI infection are somewhat connected. Well, the connection is kidney infection (pyelonephritis) is a type of UTI ( urinary tract infection) that occurs in the urethra or bladder and then it moves upstream to your kidneys.


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The most common causes of kidney infection are bacteria or viruses that infect the lower urinary tract, usually your bladder. Know that untreated kidney infection poses health risks, such as it can cause permanent damage to your kidneys or the spread of bacteria to the bloodstream may lead to life-threatening infection.


There is a need to understand the causes of kidney infection to prevent such life-threatening complications. Continue reading to know more about kidney infection.


Symptoms of kidney infection


Before we move through the causes of kidney infection, lets first understand the symptoms of a kidney infection. The symptoms may vary by age, but the common signs of a kidney infection include:


  • High fever


  • Shivering and feeling of coldness


  • Back, side (flank) pain, discomfort in your upper abdomen or back and sides


  • Groin pain occurs where the inner, upper thigh and lower abdomen meet



  • Frequent urination, strong, and persistent urge to urinate


  • When urinating, there would be a burning sensation or pain


  • Nausea and vomiting


  • Urine with pus or blood


  • Urine that has a bad odor and is cloudy


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Causes of kidney infection



As mentioned previously that the most common causes of kidney infection are bacteria or viruses. Other causes include:

Starts from the bladder


According to NIDDK, scientists believe most kidney infections start as a bladder infection that moves upward to infect one or both of your kidneys.
Usually, bacteria enter your urinary tract through the urethra, then they multiply and travel to your kidneys. If the infection remains untreated can infect your kidneys.

Bacteria or viruses from other body parts


Technically, the blood carries bacteria or viruses from other body parts to your kidneys. Infection from bacteria elsewhere in your body can spread through your bloodstream to the kidneys. For instance, it is not usual, but when an artificial joint or heart valve becomes infected.


Kidney surgery


Rarely, the causes of kidney infection, an infection that results after kidney surgery.


Risk factors related to the causes of kidney infection


Apart from the causes of kidney diseases, various risk factors increase your risk of a kidney infection. Those risk factors are:


  • Due to shorter urethra in women, bacteria can easily travel from outside the body to the bladder. That makes women prone to get a kidney infection.



  • The blocked urinary tract can be added to the list of causes of kidney infection. The blockage can be anything that slows the flow of urine or hinder in emptying the bladder, such as kidney stone.


  • Medical conditions that weaken your immune systems can be counted as risk factors, such as diabetes and HIV


  • Sometimes damage to nerves around the bladder restrains the sensations of a bladder infection.


  • Certain conditions, such as vesicoureteral reflux, leads to small amounts of urine flow from your bladder back up into your ureters and kidneys that raises your risk of kidney infection



Lastly, you can reduce the risk of kidney infection by taking preventive measures. Measures like drinking plenty of fluid, urinate as soon as feels the need, empty the bladder after intercourse, and wiping carefully after urinating and after a bowel movement can prevent bacteria from spreading.


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