Causes of a Serious Kidney Problem – The Kidney Infection

A kidney infection can be one of the most serious types of a kidney problem that requires professional medical attention. Treating a kidney infection typically includes antibiotics and a stay in the hospital. When it isn’t treated correctly, a kidney infection can cause long term damage to your kidneys. It is capable of spreading through the bloodstream, which can be life-threatening.

Although the actual infection is located in the kidney, it often begins in lower in the urinary tract — especially the bladder. Germs from the bladder migrate upward in the ureters and begin to multiply when they reach the kidneys.

Kidney infections often happen to individuals whose immune system has been compromised, either by an illness or some other cause like stress and fatigue.


Generally speaking, there are two common classifications of kidney infections, and they result from a number of possible kidney problems.

The medical names for the two most common types of a kidney infection are pyelonephritis and glomerulonephritis.


Kidney infections may also be acute or chronic in nature.

When you have an acute infection, the symptoms generally come on quickly and can be severe. But the infection runs its course and is over soon. But a chronic infection develops slowly, with few symptoms, and gets worse as time passes. Kidney failure can eventually occur.



Acute glomerulonephritis involves an inflammation of the renal glomeruli of the kidneys. Glomeruli are the blood vessels that actually filter the bloodstream to produce urine. A respiratory streptococcal infection is a typical cause of acute glomerulonephritis. Sometimes acute glomerulonephritis may follow a skin problem like impetigo.

Chronic glomerulonephritis, however, often takes a long, long time before you even know you have it – and by then it can be extremely dangerous. A glomerulonephritis case that extends beyond one year is generally considered to be chronic.


In general, inflammation takes place in the glomeruli, which causes sclerosis, scarring and finally, kidney failure.

Infections elsewhere in the body often precede glomerulonephritis, including the following:


* pneumonia,

* hepatitis,

* measles,

* malaria, and

* syphilis.


It can also be triggered by problems in the structure of the kidneys or systems within the kidneys.

Someone with this type of kidney infection can live normally for decades without knowing there’s a problem growing. But eventually, glomerulonephritis reaches a point in which the kidneys no longer carry out their functions.

When this happens, the only alternatives are a kidney transplant or kidney dialysis.


What Are the Causes of Pyelonephritis?


Pyelonephritis is an inflammation of one or both kidneys that can be chronic or acute. It is one of the most common forms of kidney infections. Some patients get this infection more once – possibly even several times. Recurrences are likely to happen to patients who afflicted with some form of obstruction in their urinary system.

But most of the time, pyelonephritis results from some type of bacterial infection, often from one of many types of germs that trigger a bladder infection


A wide range of conditions increase the likelihood of such an infection:

urinary tract infections, tumors, stagnant urine due to back flow from the bladder, abnormal prostate growth, diabetes mellitus, kidney stones, trauma, and scars from previous infections. Pregnant women are also more likely to get pyelonephritis.

Pyelonephritis can involve complications like high blood pressure (hypertension) and ultimately, kidney failure.


Chronic pyelonephritis, like glomerulonephritis, usually progresses very slowly. Patients sometimes don’t have any idea they have it, and they experience no signs of kidney dysfunction for two decades or more after it starts.

The best treatment for pyelonephritis is to eliminate the cause: either kill the bacteria or somehow remove the obstruction, if there is one.


For more information on topics related to this article, click on Kidney Infection Causes [] and Kidney Problem []. George McKenzie is a retired TV anchor, medical reporter and radio talk show host.

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