Our kidneys are a pair of organs which serve the purpose of filtering our blood, removing excess waste and water in the form of urine. They’re positioned on either side of our spine in the retroperitoneal space, which is a term used to refer to the area between our posterior abdominal wall and parietal peritoneum (or, simply put, mid-to-lower back).
The kidneys, which are about the size of a fist, are protected by our ribs, as well as layers of muscle and fat. At rest, our kidneys receive about 25% of our cardiac output.
We can, of course, develop infections in our kidneys (pyelonephritis). Kidney infections are a type of urinary tract infection (UTI); they usually begin in the bladder or urethra before they migrate to one (or perhaps even both) of your kidneys.
If you develop a kidney infection, you need to seek medical attention as soon as possible. This is because if they aren’t treated adequately, you can sustain permanent damage to your kidneys or the bacteria can spread to your bloodstream, leading to an infection that may well be life-threatening. Treatment for a kidney infection usually involves antibiotics and may require a hospital stay as well.
Signs you have a kidney infection could include:
- Frequent urination
- A strong, persistent urge to urinate
- Abdominal pain
- Pain in your side, back, or groin
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- A burning sensation or pain while urinating
- Urine that smells bad
- Cloudy urine
- Pus in your urine
- Hematuria (blood in your urine)
The Mayo Clinic recommends that you see a doctor if you notice any of the above symptoms, or if you’re receiving treatment for a UTI and your symptoms haven’t improved.