Kidney infection - What treatments work for kidney infections?
BMJ Group Medical Reference
The usual treatment for a kidney infection is a drug called an antibiotic. There are lots of different antibiotics.
Antibiotics work by killing bacteria. They can be given as tablets or a drip into a vein (also called an intravenous infusion or IV). Most people take a course of tablets at home.
If you have a more severe kidney infection, you may need to go into hospital. You'll probably be put on an antibiotic drip and you may have tablets as well.
There are lots of different antibiotics. The ones that have been tested for kidney infections all seem to work about as well as each other. However, some types of bacteria have become resistant to some antibiotics. This means that these drugs no longer kill some kinds of bacteria.
If you're pregnant, a kidney infection can cause you to go into labour too soon. You'll probably need treatment in hospital.
There hasn't been much research on which painkillers work best for people with kidney infections. Drugs like ibuprofen (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs) aren't usually recommended because they can have harmful effects on your kidneys. To read more, see Painkillers for people with a kidney infection. Your doctor may recommend paracetamol instead.
We've looked at the best research and given a rating for each treatment according to how well it works. Most of the research looks at kidney infections in women who aren't pregnant, so that's what we talk about here. But the same treatments are used for men with kidney infections.
The research also looks mainly at women with uncomplicated kidney infections. An uncomplicated infection occurs when a person with a normal urinary tract and a healthy immune system gets infected with a common type of bacteria. To read more, see Types of kidney infection.
Treatments for kidney infections
Treatments that are likely to work
Treatments that need further study
Bacteria are tiny organisms. There are lots of different types. Some are harmful and can cause disease. But some bacteria live in your body without causing any harm.
Your immune system is made up of the parts of your body that fight infection. When bacteria or viruses get into your body, it's your immune system that kills them. Antibodies and white blood cells are part of your immune system. They travel in your blood and attack bacteria, viruses and other things that could damage your body.
When a medicine or a fluid, such as blood, is fed directly into a vein, it's called an intravenous infusion (or IV). To give you an intravenous infusion, a nurse, technician or a doctor places a narrow plastic tube into a vein (usually in your arm) using a needle. The needle is then removed and the fluid is infused (or dripped) through the tube into the vein.
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