Pyelonephritis or Kidney Infection (Adult Male)

An infection of one or both kidneys is called pyelonephritis. It usually happens when bacteria (or rarely, viruses, fungi, or other disease-causing organisms) get into the kidneys. The bacteria (or other disease-causing organisms) can enter the kidneys from the bladder or blood traveling from other parts of the body to cause pyelonephritis. A kidney infection can become serious. It can cause severe illness, scarring of the kidneys, or kidney failure if not treated properly. 

Common causes include:

  • Not keeping the genital area clean and dry, which promotes the growth of bacteria

  • Wearing tight pants or underwear, which allows moisture to build up in the genital area, helping bacteria grow

  • Holding urine for long periods of time

  • Dehydration

Kidney infections can cause symptoms similar to bladder infections. The infection can cause one or more of these symptoms:

  • Pain or burning when urinating

  • Having to urinate more often than usual

  • Blood in urine (pink or red)

  • Belly pain or discomfort, usually in the lower abdomen

  • Pain in the side or back

  • Pain above the pubic bone

  • Fever or chills

  • Vomiting

  • Loss of appetite

Treatment is oral antibiotics, or in more severe cases, intramuscular or intravenous (IV) antibiotics. These are started right away. Treatment helps prevent a more serious kidney infection.

Medicines

Medicines can help in the treatment of kidney infection:

  • Take antibiotics until they are used up, even if you feel better. It's important to finish them to make sure the infection is gone.

  • Unless another medicine was given, you can use over-the-counter medicines for pain, fever, or discomfort. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease, talk with your healthcare provider before taking these medicines. Also tell your provider if you've ever had a stomach ulcer of gastrointestinal bleeding, or are taking blood thinners.

Home care

These guidelines can help you care for yourself at home:

  • Stay home from work or school. Rest in bed until your fever breaks and you are feeling better, or as advised by your healthcare provider.

  • Drink lots of fluid unless you must restrict fluids for other medical reasons. This will force the medicine into your urinary system and help flush the bacteria out of your body. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should drink.

  • Don't have sex until you have finished all of your medicine and your symptoms are gone.

  • Don't have caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods. These foods may irritate the kidneys and bladder.

  • Wear loose-fitting clothes and cotton underwear.

Prevention

These self-care steps can help prevent future infections:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and flush out the bladder. Do this unless you must restrict your fluids for other health reasons, or your healthcare provider told you not to.

  • Wash your hands after using the bathroom.

  • Clean your penis regularly. If you aren't circumcised, pull back the foreskin when cleaning.

  • Urinate more often. Don't try to hold urine in for a long time.

  • Don't wear tight-fitting pants or underwear.

  • Improve your diet and prevent constipation. Eat more fresh fruit, vegetables, and fiber. Eat less junk and fatty foods. Constipation can increase your chance of getting a urinary tract infection. Talk with your healthcare provider if you have trouble with bowel movements.

  • Urinate right after sex to flush out the bladder.

  • Don't follow high-risk sexual behaviors.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. You may need more testing to make sure the infection is getting better. Close follow-up and further testing is very important to find the cause and to prevent future infections.

If a urine culture was done, you will be told if your treatment needs to be changed. If directed, you can call to find out the results.

If you had an X-ray, CT scan, or another diagnostic test, you will be told of any new findings that may affect your care.

Call 911

Call 911 if any of the following occur:

  • Trouble breathing

  • Fainting or loss of consciousness

  • Rapid or very slow heart rate

  • Weakness, dizziness, or fainting

  • Trouble arousing or confusion

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of the following occur:

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Not feeling better within 1 to 2 days after starting antibiotics

  • Any symptom that continues after 3 days of treatment

  • Increasing pain in the stomach, back, side, or groin area

  • Repeated vomiting

  • Not able to take prescribed medicine due to nausea or another reason

  • Bloody, dark-colored, or foul smelling urine

  • Trouble urinating or decreased urine output

  • No urine for 8 hours, no tears when crying, sunken eyes, or dry mouth

  • New symptoms or symptoms get worse

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