Kidney Infection: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

A kidney infection (pyelonephritis) is a type of urinary tract infection, or UTI. Most UTIs are bladder infections. Kidney infections tend to make people much sicker than bladder infections do. A kidney infection is also more serious because it can cause lasting damage if it is not treated quickly.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your antibiotics as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Drink plenty of water, enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water. This may help wash out bacteria that are causing the infection. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • Urinate often. Try to empty your bladder each time.
  • To relieve pain, take a hot shower or lay a heating pad (set on low) over your lower belly. Never go to sleep with a heating pad in place. Put a thin cloth between the heating pad and your skin.

To help prevent kidney infections

  • Drink plenty of water each day. This helps you urinate often, which clears bacteria from your system. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • Include cranberry juice in your diet.
  • Urinate when you have the urge. Do not hold your urine for a long time. Urinate before you go to sleep.
  • If you have symptoms of a bladder infection, such as burning when you urinate or having to urinate often, call your doctor or nurse call line so you can treat the problem before it gets worse. If you do not treat a bladder infection quickly, it can spread to the kidney.
  • Men should keep the tip of the penis clean.

If you are a woman, keep these ideas in mind:

  • Urinate right after you have sex.
  • Change sanitary pads often. Avoid douches, feminine hygiene sprays, and other feminine hygiene products that have deodorants.
  • After going to the washroom, wipe from front to back.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have increasing pain in your back just below the rib cage. This is called flank pain.
  • You have a new or higher fever and chills.
  • You are vomiting or nauseated.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Symptoms, such as burning when you urinate, get worse or get better but then come back.
  • You are not getting better after 2 days.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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Current as of: November 20, 2015