Can a Kidney Infection Cause Back Pain?

Reviewed on 12/23/2020

What is kidney infection back pain?

If you are experiencing lower back pain along with frequent urination, blood in the urine, fever, or chills, you may have a kidney infection back pain.
If you are experiencing lower back pain along with frequent urination, blood in the urine, fever, or chills, you may have a kidney infection back pain.

Lower back pain or flank pain can result from kidney problems, but it could also be the result of any of the following:

Lifestyle choices can also contribute to lower back pain, including:

However, if you are experiencing lower back pain along with frequent urination, blood in the urine, fever, or chills, you may have a kidney infection back pain. This is a condition where the cause of the back pain is a kidney infection, also known as Pyelonephritis.

Under normal conditions, the urinary tract works as part of the system that cleans the blood. The kidneys are capable of filtering 150 quarts of water and waste from the blood each day. The filtering process produces one to two quarts of urine which are stored in the bladder until removed through urination.

The kidneys serve other functions as well. They balance electrolytes, regulate red blood cells, and maintain blood pressure

To avoid potentially serious complications, an infection of the kidneys should receive immediate medical attention.

Signs and symptoms of kidney infection

Common kidney infection symptoms include:

Symptoms can also vary by age. For instance, very young children may only have a high fever, while senior adults may not even show any of the typical signs. Instead, they may experience cognitive problems such as difficulty speaking and confused thinking.

Types of kidney infection

The kidneys can become infected by a virus or by a bacteria that typically lives in the bowel and migrates to the urinary tract. 

Causes of kidney infection

Normally, the urinary tract keeps out bacteria. On occasion, however, bacteria can enter the urethra and continue up into the bladder causing inflammation, urinary tract infection, and an infection of the kidneys.

It is also possible for blood to transmit a virus or bacteria to the kidneys from other parts of the body.

For around every 30 cases of urinary tract infection, one results in a kidney infection.

Urinary tract infections are more likely to occur in older people or those with other medical conditions such as:

Women have a shorter urethra than men, placing them at higher risk for developing a urinary tract infection. Approximately one out of five women experience a urinary tract infection at some point in their lives, and many will experience reinfection.

SLIDESHOW

Kidney Stones: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment See Slideshow

When to see a doctor for kidney infection

If your only symptom is lower back pain, in many cases it will go away on its own. However, if the pain continues longer than four weeks or gets worse and is accompanied by fever, chills, or other symptoms of kidney infection, you should see your doctor.

Kidney infections are serious and can lead to life-threatening sepsis. You should see your doctor immediately if you are experiencing rapid heart rate, chills, fever, or if you are having trouble thinking clearly. 

You may have to be hospitalized if you become extremely ill, cannot drink, or cannot swallow medicine. 

Other medical conditions that may result in hospitalization include:

Pregnant women showing symptoms should go to the doctor and be treated right away to avoid serious complications.


 

Diagnosing kidney infection

Lower back pain can have many causes and a correct diagnosis is required for proper treatment. In addition to reviewing your medical history, your doctor may give you a physical examination, take a urine sample, and conduct any of the following tests:

Treatments for kidney infection

Antibiotics are used to treat kidney infections, usually in the form of a pill taken orally over the course of several weeks. Bacteria may be resistant to some forms of antibiotics, so your doctor may need to take a blood and urine sample to determine which antibiotic to prescribe.

In severe cases, you may need to receive the antibiotics through an IV. 

If the infection returns, a second course of treatment up to six weeks may be required.

Kidney infections treated with antibiotics rarely result in complications.  

If your urinary tract is blocked by an enlarged prostate or kidney stones, you may need to undergo a procedure or have a surgery to clear the blockage.

QUESTION

The only purpose of the kidneys is to filter blood. See Answer

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References
Johns Hopkins: “Lower Back Pain: What Could It Be?"

Mount Sinai: “Flank pain."

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Definition & Facts of Kidney Infection (Pyelonephritis)."

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “What are the symptoms of kidney infections?"

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Treatment for Kidney Infection (Pyelonephritis)"

National Kidney Foundation: “Top 10 Things to Know About Urinary Tract Infections."

Rush University for Health: “Kidney Infection."

Urology Care Foundation: “Kidney (Renal) Infection – Pyelonephritis."

U.S. National Library of Medicine: Urinary tract infection – adults."

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