13 Signs and Symptoms You Might Have a Kidney Infection from 13 Signs and Symptoms You Might Have a Kidney Infection

13 Signs and Symptoms You Might Have a Kidney Infection

A kidney infection originates from the bladder (cystitis) or the urethra (urethritis). The bacteria can travel through the ureter, which is what connects the kidney to the bladder, and infect the organ. The Inflammation of the kidney due to a bacterial infection is called pyelonephritis. If the infection in the bladder or urethra is treated in time, the bacteria should not go up to the kidneys; but if ignored for 2-3 days or more and the patient has a fever, the microbes probably ended up in the kidney resulting in pyelonephritis, Dr. Prince Mohan, M.D., medical director of transplant nephrology, Geisinger Health System, says.

Lower back pain

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Flank pain is very common in patients with a kidney infection. It occurs in the form of a dull discomfort that comes and goes. Patients feel pressure, throbbing pain, or discomfort just under the ribs and above the pelvis. It is not uncommon for kidney flank pain to be more severe on one side of the body.

High temperature

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Fevers are common when an infection is present. Patients can be running high temperatures soaring above 100-degrees Fahrenheit. The bacteria are attaching themselves to the walls of the kidneys, causing the symptoms. The fever doesn’t usually come until the infection has moved to the kidneys; so if you experience a sudden and unexplained rise in temperature, see a doctor right away.

Chills

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The chills usually come with the fever. Chills are caused by rapid muscle contraction and relaxation. They are the body's way of producing heat when it feels cold, which is why they are often a signal an increase in the body's core temperature is coming, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Frequent urge to urinate

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This is a very common sign, and it’s one of the first symptoms that something is not right. “You will have painful urination and feel an urgency to go right away,” Dr. Mohan says. Pubic pain is not uncommon. All of these are associated with a bladder infection. The fever comes when the bacteria has moved up to the kidneys, he adds.

Feeling very weak

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Patients generally feel very weak because they are running a high fever, Dr. Mohan says. The body is reacting to the infection by trying to eliminate it, he adds. The body is putting all of its energy into treating the problem, which leaves you tired and sleepy. Get some rest because the body needs it to fight off the bacteria.

Diarrhea

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The urinary tract intrudes straight on the digestive tract where the bladder is in contact with the lower parts of the colon and rectum. As a result, an inflammatory process in the bladder will directly affect them, according to Live Strong. One possible explanation is that the heat resulting from the inflammatory process. The effect is increased secretions and motility in the intestines, leading to diarrhea.

Discomfort in the sides

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This is due to inflammation, Dr. Mohan says. The kidneys are covered with a capsule and it becomes engorged if there is an infection. “The nerves of the capsule become activated and cause pain,” Dr. Mohan adds.  Some patients have complained of sharp pain just below the ribs where the kidneys sit. Sometime that uncomfortable feeling moves to the lower abdomen. That kind of pain is sometimes followed by tenderness.

Nausea

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Once the kidney becomes infected, it leads to an inflammatory response which leads to nausea, Dr. Mohan says. Dehydration can be another reason why you feel nauseous.  It is common since the body is working to eliminate, or “flush,” the bacteria by you having to go to the bathroom often.

Bloody urine

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This can be very scary and must be investigated by a doctor. Bloody urine can be a symptom when a person also has a corresponding bladder infection (cystitis or urethritis). The kidneys allow blood cells to leak into urine due to the infection.

Flu-like symptoms

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Fever, headache, nausea, and muscle aches – you may think you have the flu or a stomach bug. An easy way to differentiate between the two is if you have no accompanying sore throat, stuffy nose, or a cough. Also, unlike the flu or cold, the symptoms won’t abate.

Pain in the groin

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Sometimes pain from an internal organ is felt away from the site of the internal organ. The kidneys can be a little like this, so that pain in the kidney can be felt all the way from the back down to the groin, or in the testicles in men, according to the National Kidney Federation.

Vomiting

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Patients who are vomiting will need IV antibiotics, Dr. Mohan says. Pills won’t do the job because you’re not keeping anything in. The main job of the kidneys is toxin elimination. Vomiting may occur as a way to eliminate waste products from the body if kidneys aren’t able to do that effectively of fast enough.  

Lack of appetite

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This is a general side effect of nit feeling well, Dr. Mohan says. If you’re in pain, nauseous and under the weather, you generally don’t feel like eating much, he adds. Mild nausea and vomiting can also lead to lack of appetite and even weight loss.