What is a Kidney Infection Symptoms & Treatments?

A kidney infection is a painful, unpleasant type of urinary tract infection (UTI) that generally begins in the urethra or bladder and travels to one or both of your kidneys. Although painful at first, kidney infections can be treated with antibiotics in most cases. However, if left untreated, they can cause permanent kidney damage. If you find yourself asking, ‘how do I know if I have a kidney infection?’, then read our guide below to discover the symptoms and treatments.

Kidney infection symptoms

The signs and symptoms of a kidney infection can appear within a few hours of infection. You may feel a bit feverish, shivery and nauseous, with pain in the back or side being common. In addition, symptoms of a urinary tract infection, such as cystitis, are common. 
Kidney infection symptoms include:
1. The urge to urinate more than usual
2. Pain or a burning sensation when urinating
3. Smelly or cloudy urine colour
4. Blood in your urine
A lot of these symptoms cross over with the symptoms of interstitial cystitis, so make sure to read our in-depth guide for IC too before consulting with your doctor.
If you are worried about your urge to urinate resulting in little leaks, then be sure to look at TENA’s full range of incontinence products. We have incontinence products for men and women available in a range of sizes and fits and suitable for varying levels of incontinence.

Kidney infection causes

Kidney infections commonly occur when bacteria gets into the urethra (this carries the urine out of your body). This bacteria travels up to your bladder, which in turn causes cystitis, and then up towards the kidneys. 
Acute kidney infections can also develop without a bladder infection. Examples of this include if you suffer from kidney stones, diabetes or a weakened immune system. 
It’s worth noting that kidney infection symptoms in women occur far more than in men. This is due to a woman’s urethra being shorter, meaning it is easier for bacteria to reach the kidneys. Even more specifically, younger women are more at risk than older women as they tend to be more sexually active, increasing the risk of infection.

Diagnosing a kidney infection

To work out whether you have a kidney infection, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and recent medical history. 
Standard procedure for diagnosing a kidney infection involves carrying out a urine test to see whether you have a UTI. However, if you are male with a confirmed UTI, a GP will refer you straight to a urologist for further investigation. 

Kidney infection treatment

In terms of how to cure a kidney infection, most cases need immediate treatment with antibiotics to stop the infection from damaging the kidneys further or heading to the bloodstream. Painkillers can also provide some quick relief. 
If you have a weakened immune system or you are pregnant, you may be admitted to hospital and treated with antibiotics through a drip. This is because doctors need to take extra precautions if you are vulnerable to infection.
Most people who receive kidney infection treatment promptly will feel 100% after 2 weeks, however those with pre-existing conditions may take longer to recover. 
To prevent kidney infections in the future, make sure to drink lots of fluids, keep your genitals clean (especially after going to the bathroom) and urinate after having sex.
We hope you have found our guide on the signs and symptoms of kidney infections useful. If you are struggling with other bladder related issues, be sure to take a look at our full selection of articles. We cover everything from overactive bladder syndrome to neurogenic bladders.


For men who experience bladder leakage.

TENA Lifestyle Man sitting in park


For women who experience bladder leakage.

TENA Lifestyle woman trying on a dress